All you ever wanted to know about cluster beans

Description
The cluster bean, or guar bean as it is more popularly known, is an annual crop, that is, it can be grown all throughout the year. It is a leguminous crop, and thus highly beneficial for the soil. The cluster beans can be consumed as a whole, but it is more often made into the popular guar gum. Cluster beans are one of the best sources of this guar gum.

The younger vegetables are used for cooking purposes, while the older varieties are used to make guar gum. The older crops have more mature pods, which makes it easier to dry them and crush them into a fine powdery form. Guar gum is very commonly used for commercial purposes. It is used very popularly as a thickening agent, in food items like ice creams or pudding. They have a low calorific value, and also have a large number of medicinal benefits like the regulation of your blood sugar levels, and lowering the cholesterol level of your body.

The cluster beans grow best in a climate which has a bright sunshine, accompanied by flashing spans of rainfall. The period of rainfall should be quite frequent. The soil should be well-irrigated too. However, it is an extremely versatile plant, and can even grow in semi-arid climates because of its drought resistant properties. However, you should keep in mind that there is not too much rainfall, as this result in the plant becoming too leafy in structure. This reduces both the number of pods as well as the number of seeds in each pod. The harvesting season is mainly from July to October. It is grown in many parts of India and Pakistan, and also in Australia and the higher plains in Texas.

Buying tips
When you are going to the market to buy the cluster beans, make sure that the beans are not too ripe. They should be soft and tender. The more mature it will be the harder and less tasty it will become. This is because it becomes woodier as it grows old. Make sure that the beans do not have any dark spots or stains on it, as it is an indication of the beans being old.

If you are buying the canned beans, then you should make sure that the store has a good reputation, and also the container should be airtight and sealed.

Culinary Usage
Before being put to use, the beans are generally stringed. This is a process where you have to hold one end of the bean, and pull it towards the other end, when you can see that the outer skin comes out. You have to do the same with the other end too. After the bean is stringed, then it can be used in a variety of ways. It can be steamed or boiled, or used as a whole or cut into longitudinal pieces. However, the most common use is chopping it into small pieces or slightly larger ones with the aid of a knife, depending on the requirements of the recipe. Some of the common culinary usages are:

  1. Before being chopped or stringed, the cluster beans are often boiled first. They need to be boiled carefully, as over-boiling them would result in the beans losing their tenderness, and they would become flabby. They lose their unique flavor. They should be boiled in salt water for around a couple of minutes, and then drained properly.
  2. The cluster beans are mostly cooked just like the broad beans. They are first washed properly, and then stringed and boiled and chopped into small pieces. It is often tempered with a little amount of oil, along with some other spices according to the taste of the user. This goes along well with coconut, especially the scraped coconut.
  3. The pods of the cluster bean are widely used in many vegetable preparations, and form an integral part of many Indian recipes. They can be used in a variety of ways, like being steamed or fried.

Storage
After you have bought fresh cluster beans from the market, and want to store it and have it after a few days, then in order to keep them healthy, you should take care while storing it. Like most vegetables, the cluster beans lose their flavor and freshness within a few days after being bought. Thus, they should be consumed as soon as possible. They should be wrapped in a plastic bag or a towel, or sealed in an airtight container and then refrigerated. Make sure that the beans are completely dry when you store them.

Medicinal values
Cluster beans have a high nutrient profile, and consequently have a lot of health benefits. Some of them are summarized below:

  1. It has a rich content of dietary fiber. This helps in reducing the cholesterol levels in your body. It also helps in the smooth functioning of the digestive system, and cleans up your digestive tract.
  2. They are highly rich in carbohydrate and protein, supplying you with a large amount of energy.
  3. It is very useful for obese patients, and those who are trying to lose some weight.
  4. It is also said to be useful for treating diabetic patients.
  5. It has a rich content of vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Folate. They have a large number of medicinal benefits of their own. Vitamin C makes your bones and teeth stronger, while Vitamin K plays an important role in the development of the fetus in the womb.
  6. Guar gum has a large number of industrial applications.

Where to buy cluster beans in US
In USA, cluster beans are mostly grown in the higher plains of Texas.

Nutritional and Dietary information
The main nutrient contents of cluster beans are:

  1. Energy, about 16Kcal in 100 g of beans.
  2. Moisture about 85%.
  3. Fats, proteins and dietary fibers.
  4. 11% Carbohydrate.
  5. Minerals like Potassium, Calcium and Iron.
  6. Vitamins including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Vitamin K.

From all the above facts, you must be astonished at the large number of medicinal benefits, which you had never imagined before. Make sure that you include vegetables in your regular diet, for a longer and healthier life.

Nutrition Facts
Servings Size 100gm
Calories from Fat 1%
Sodium 5%
Total Carbohydrate 26%
Dietary Fiber 309%
Protein 9%
Calcium 29%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because it has not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

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Comments

  1. Can you grow clusterbeans indoors?

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