Cooked Bean Dishes

Is there anything I can add to cooked bean dishes to eliminate or reduce the gas problem they seem to produce? I've tried adding ground mustard, but it doesn't help. —M.S.,Kingston, Washington

Dried beans contain fiber and complex sugars that can cause intestinal gas. If you add dried beans to your diet, there's a good chance you will experience some gas. Gradually increasing your consumption of beans will give your system a chance to adjust. I could not find anything to substantiate the claim that ground mustard can prevent gas, but here are a few tips that might help:

  • If you prepare bean dishes with canned beans, be sure to drain the liquid and rinse the beans thoroughly.
  • If you start with dried beans, use the quick hot-soak method instead of the long cold soak. Hot soaking helps dissolve some of the gas-causing sugars, making the beans easier to digest. Place beans in a Dutch oven or soup kettle; add water to cover by 2 inches, and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. The longer soak time will allow more complex sugars to dissolve.
  • To check if the beans have soaked long enough, cut one soaked bean in half. If the center is opaque, your beans need to soak longer.
  • After the beans have soaked, drain and discard the water. Cooking the beans with fresh water instead of the soaking water will also help reduce gas.
  • If all else fails, go to your local drugstore for an over-the-counter product that will help your body digest the complex sugars in beans.