the magical fruit
August 26, 2021 11:11 AM   Subscribe

What herb or spice do you add to legumes to minimize the farts?

I know about throwing out the soak water. I know it takes time for one's gut to grow up a crop of microbiota that can process the beans. I know about FODMAPs.

What I want to hear from you is what you add to your beans to reduce flatulence. Examples include: fennel, ginger, epazote. But only if you add it to your beans to reduce farts.
posted by aniola to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The only thing that works for me is eating beans a couple times a week so food moves through rapidly.
posted by theora55 at 11:16 AM on August 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's not an herb or spice, but we add the sea vegetable kombu to our beans to reduce farts! It's stored on the shelf and reconstituted for use. Similar to an herb or spice in that way.
posted by happy_cat at 11:22 AM on August 26, 2021 [15 favorites]

Best answer: I soak mine overnight with a piece of kombu, then throw that out with the soaking water. I have no idea if this actually helps, I've read it does.

I will also add a little miso, especially to hummus.
posted by rocketman at 11:23 AM on August 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Kombu and or Bay Leaves. You only need a small thumb sized piece of kombu, as it is very flavorful and will expand while cooking.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 12:07 PM on August 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

People in Mexico and Guatemala use epazote herb to reduce gas.
posted by kschang at 12:30 PM on August 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Beano® contains the same anti-flatulence enzyme found in Kombu and some other foods, Alpha-galactosidase. That Wikipedia link describes a bit about it and names some other supplements. But I usually prefer kombu in my dried beans, bc it's delicious.

I'll also second the notion that the more beans you eat per week/month/year, the less of a problem it is (for most of us, obv some people will be sensitive no matter what). The same is true for gluten, and many other foods that are sometimes given a bad rap. Your digestive system has a memory, and due to all the neurons and what they can do (learning, training), this system is sometimes even called your "second brain". There's also the issue that your gut flora will change balance depending on your diet, and be better equipped to handle certain foods when you eat them regularly.
posted by SaltySalticid at 12:33 PM on August 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

Sorry not really an answer but I'm a big fan of lentils. I find them easier to digest compared to other legumes. I've experimented with various beans throughout my 14 years of vegetarianism and I find that my gut personally just has a harder time digesting black beans, pinto beans, and others if I eat a decent amount.
posted by mundo at 1:16 PM on August 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: It can be a little tricky to source, however asafoetida is a traditional herb with claims made to being beneficial to digestion. As a plus it also adds an interesting savory, almost umami flavour to dishes.
posted by Packed Lunch at 1:26 PM on August 26, 2021

Best answer: We usually put epazote, fresh or dried, in beans, but never in lentils. Lentils aren't farty at all...? I think epazote smells and tastes good, especially if you can find fresh. Sometimes we freeze the fresh stuff for later, since our neighborhood Mexican grocery doesn't always have it.
posted by fritley at 1:56 PM on August 26, 2021

Best answer: vinegar.

Also: if you get asafoetida, plan ahead for how to store it so that you don't end up smelling it in your cabinet two years later.
posted by amtho at 5:46 PM on August 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We use kombu too!
posted by stellaluna at 6:29 PM on August 26, 2021

Best answer: Savoury (both the annual and perennial kinds) is a traditional add-to-beans herb in Germany. This article says it has the effect you're looking for. They also write that it's used mostly in green beans but that's perhaps only because various kinds of green beans are more commonly used in German cooking. Unless I cook beans according to other traditions, I always add savoury to my beans. I also like the taste, namely.
posted by Namlit at 11:25 PM on August 26, 2021

The gas-producing stuff in beans, galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS), is pretty water soluble.

Therefore: Soak at least overnight, up to 24 hours, in lots of water and discard/change water at least twice.

Cook in lots of water also, and then discard the cooking water as well.

And as mentioned upthread, prefer lentils and some other small-sized beans (mung beans, e.g.). Sometimes chickpeas are OK. Different types of beans and definitely better/worse.

You can also buy canned beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc and discard the liquid - might be even better as there is more chance for the GOS to leach out while they are sitting in the can in liquid for weeks/months.

I know that's not really something you add to beans per se (well, I guess you're adding lots of water!) but that is how I go from not being able to eat beans to being able to eat them.
posted by flug at 1:16 AM on August 27, 2021

Whenever I eat legumes I take some digestive tablets which contain alpha-galactosidase (plus a variety of other enzymes and herbal extracts; I couldn't find one just for beans). I can't say that this entirely eliminates flatulence, but it does seem to reduce it. It's possible that a higher dose of just the A-G would work better, but I have yet to find this in my country.

Discarding soaking water, cooking water, etc., may be 100% old wives' tales; I haven't noticed this making a difference. I do prefer to presoak beans because it makes big beans cook much more quickly, and I discard soaking water because I see this as an extension of rinsing, but I no longer discard cooking water -- too much loss of perfectly good legume flavour and nutrients. I cook split (i.e. skinless) peas and lentils from dry without discarding anything.
posted by confluency at 4:17 AM on August 27, 2021

Some research I've been doing suggests that a piece of kombu also might help with this. You cook the beans with a 4-inch piece of kombu and then discard it; kombu has the enzymes which break down the oligosaccharides that cause digestive issues. Kombu also can boost the umami in a pot of beans and can tenderize them a bit, so maybe they cook a little quicker.

This research was prompted by my finally getting an invite to join the mail-order subscription box at Rancho Gordo so I'll be trying a lot of things here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:39 AM on September 3, 2021

And now I see that Kombu has already been suggested, but at least I can offer scientific support.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:40 AM on September 3, 2021

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