Capacity-Building Projects

Pulse Canada Foodservice

In this project for Pulse Canada, Prairie Research Kitchen surveyed a wide range of available information about the eating quality of dry beans to develop useful definitions and cooking guidelines for the foodservice industry.

A preliminary market intelligence survey informed us that more members of the foodservice industry would be willing to take up dry beans as an ingredient if they had access to consistent, reliable information about product origins, general cooking quality, food applications available for each bean class, and the differences in quality between canned and dry varieties of each bean class.

Many respondents also indicated that having staff trained in bean cooking would increase bean uptake across the industry. For instance, we learned from culinary professionals who teach that few have enough time to properly teach bean cooking in their courses or programs.

We also conducted quality testing, comparing Canadian dry beans to a well-regarded, high-quality heirloom bean control used in the US. The results indicate that Canadian beans don’t greatly differ in quality from US beans. However, we did note quality variations between Canadian suppliers, which suggests that some – particularly those supplying beans to the foodservice industry – may benefit from training in best storage practices to ensure the high quality.

Based on the input we received from the market intelligence survey, PRK also developed several applications to highlight Canadian bean quality in the foodservice space. These applications can be developed further to produce bean ingredients available directly from foodservice suppliers, or they can be prepared on site, from scratch, at foodservice establishments.

Dry Bean Quality Defined

Based on feedback from foodservice partners during this project, PRK developed a definition of cooked bean quality for foodservice applications:

In general, a high-quality, perfectly cooked bean would match a 3 on the scale. It would have a creamy texture without being mushy or soft. It would be fully intact and not split, burst, or broken.

Of course, what is considered an optimally cooked bean may vary by application, so we also included a scale describing the “level of doneness” based on bite and texture. This scale may serve as a useful training tool for classrooms or foodservice industry, or future research projects.

ScaleDescription of Cooked Bean Bite and Texture
1UndercookedThe bean is difficult or impossible to chew and the cotyledon feels hard.
2Slightly UndercookedThe bean can be chewed but has a grainy texture, and the cotyledon feels slightly hard. The bean breaks down into distinct pieces with chewing.
3Optimum CookedThe bean is creamy with no grittiness or grainy mouthfeel, and the cotyledon has some bite and firmness with initial chew.
4Slightly OvercookedThere is very little resistance to chewing. The bean is losing cohesion but is still mostly intact. The cotyledon feels mushy.
5OvercookedGrains are burst and waterlogged, and the bean is easily chewed or pressed into a mush between thumb and index finger.

Meat-Bean Blends and End Use Applications

The ground beef and cooked bean blends developed by PRK for applications in this project followed a ratio of 75 per cent ground beef to 25 per cent cooked bean.

We determined this ratio after conducting texture profile analysis (TPA), a process that mimics the effect of chewing on the texture of a food product. Our researchers observed that hardness and shear force values dropped dramatically from 100 per cent raw beef patties to those with 25 per cent bean – especially with navy beans, though not as drastically with black beans.

This suggests that bean and beef blends may not have the structural requirements they need to form viable patties without the aid of other functional ingredients.

Our researchers did, however, identify three applications in which the meat-bean blend adds value and nutritional benefits that make them suitable for foodservice applications, including applications where the blend:

  • is contained in a dough or wrapper
  • is added to high moisture cooking applications such as meat sauces
  • is combined with binding ingredients such as eggs and breadcrumbs that hold ingredients together

In high moisture applications, for example, the raw blend thickens the sauce while adding nutritional value (fibre and plant-based protein) and decreasing food costs in large volume recipes.