Preparing Mayacoba and Snow Cap Beans

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Like all beans, mayocoba and snow cap beans should be pre-soaked before being boiled in fresh water for ten minutes and then cooked slowly until tender. Following this cooking method is important – all beans (but particularly kidney beans), contain toxins which may concentrate in the soaking water and which are only destroyed in the beans themselves through being held at 100°C for 10 minutes.

The USDA has developed a quick-soak method that reduces the soaking time to an hour: Add rinsed and picked through beans to boiling water. Return to a boil and boil for two minutes. Remove from the heat and soak for one hour.

Salt toughens the skin of beans – adding it at the beginning results in tough beans; adding at the end can result in mushy and under seasoned beans; adding it partway through the cooking process ensures that the beans will be tender and still hold together, and that they will be properly seasoned. Mexicans almost always add epazote when cooking beans – not only is the unique flavour and fragrance of epazote complementary, the herb prevents flatulence. In Asia, kombu (kelp) is used for the same reasons.

Mayocoba beans are an heirloom variety which is now widely cultivated in Mexico but still generally unknown elsewhere. They are increasingly popular due to their thin skin, lovely creamy taste and texture – and because they are easier to digest than other beans.

Snow cap beans retain their striking colours and patterns when cooked and have a pleasant potato-like texture.