Monday, January 25, 2010

Dear Blog,

I had food poisoning. It was so bad, I couldn't even blog. And then I found five dollars. Except that I didn't, I only wish I did.

The way I got it was fascinating--complete user error. When you are cooking dried kidney beans, here are the steps you should follow:
1. Go back to the store and buy some canned kidney beans.
2. Open cans.

Dried kidney beans are a nutritious staple food. But if you don't cook them enough, or if you have the foolhardiness to taste them before they are fully cooked, you are in for a world of hurt. Don't believe me? Check it:

The long and short of it: raw kidney beans contain high levels of a poison that binds to your intestines to prevent absorption (of nutrients or anything else, for that matter). When you heat the beans to about 80C (not quite boiling), the poison's strength is multiplied. Undercooked beans are even more toxic than raw ones. This sounds like a big pot of crazy, but these are TRUE FACTS. I must have had 3 undercooked beans, tops...I missed 3 days of work and am still not really eating normally.

Canned beans, however, have been cooked and cooked and cooked again. They are safe to eat right out of the can (as long as you don't get dented cans), but you can also put them in your recipes.

In case you are wondering, the chili turned out fine (delicious, actually), and the undercooked beans currently residing in my freezer will have the hell cooked out of them before I attempt to eat them in the future.

Don't say I never learned ya nothin'.


Dan said...


Melanie said...

Yeah, it was like that.

Heather said...

Wow. Good to know!

KateR said...

I am so glad this happened, because if it hadn't, I wouldn't have this entertaining story to read, and you might not fit in your skinny paint-covered jeans again.

Melanie said...

There's a bright side to everything! Once I can get back in the gym, I'll be unstoppable!

Anonymous said...

Melanie! This sucks - and I had no idea of the risks associated with kidney beans.

I will however, point out that most dented cans are perfectly safe to eat. Only worry about cans that are punctured (you may be able to tell when opening it if it was punctured or not - if it was punctured you won't be breaking a seal) or bulging.

Your brother,

Any bulging can - even it's just bulging a little - however, should immediately be thrown out. If the dent is particularly large it might be hard to tell if it's "bulging" or not, so the paranoid might throw it out - but small dents? I wouldn't worry about it.

I'm glad you're getting better, and hope it's all upward from here.

Melanie said...

Hey hey, more wisdom! I try to avoid cans that are dented near the top or bottom edges, as it is more likely that a seal would have been compromised if the can was hit in those areas.

Avoiding all dented cans, though, may be more of a quality issue than a safety one. A banged up can may signal that the food inside is all mashed up...and presentation may count, depending on what sort of food it is!