Saturday, April 2, 2011

Soaking and Cooking Beans

Beans, Beans, Beans!  I've tried many a time to cook beans.  Most of the time I would give myself a big F.  Don't even get me started on the time I wasn't paying attention and I let the water cook out and my house smelled like garbage for a couple of days.  I had to put the pan OUTSIDE to soak for days because the smell was so intense.  Needless to say when I told my husband I was trying beans again he was a little...concerned.  I am HAPPY to report I tried it 2 ways and both worked!  Who knew the directions were so important!

I found these websites helpful when I researched how to do it right:

Most beans require a pre-soak before you can cook them.  I tried 2 different methods: overnight and quick soak.

Measure out your beans.  Rinse with water.  Next add 3 times as much water (ie 1 cup of beans, add 3 cups of water).  Put in your fridge overnight (8 to 10 hours).  I added HOT water from my tap.

Before I went to bed

The next morning when I was ready to cook

Measure your beans and rinse them with water.   Add the rinsed beans to a pot and add 3 times as much cold water as measured beans.  Bring the beans to a boil.  Take off heat and let soak 1-2 hours.  (I found that 90 minutes worked for me).

Now that you have soaked your beans you are ready to cook them.  There are a variety of ways: stove-top, crock pot, and pressure cooking.  I have only tried stove-top thus far and it has worked great.

For stove-top method drain off the soaking water from the beans.  I learned at class last month that this will help reduce the, um, "musicality" of the beans. Add beans and fresh water (same amount that you did pre-soaked measurement) to a pot.  Bring it to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer.  When the beans came from the overnight-fridge method I found that it took almost 2 hours of simmering but after the quick soaking method it took only 1 hour and 15 minutes for the beans to be soft.

Cooked Pinto Beans

Here are some tips and info I learned in my research and experimenting. 
  • Don't add salt or acidic products (like vinegar or tomatoes) to your water when soaking and cooking beans.  This can cause the skins to toughen and your beans will have a hard time softening, if they ever do.
  • High-altitudes may experience longer cooking times to soften beans.
  • As beans get older they get harder to soften. 
  • You can grind beans into flour.  Use the flour to make great bean dips or a thickener for soups, sauces, etc.
  • Beans have many health benefits! The soluble fiber in beans help lower cholesterol.  Beans are high in protein, vitamins and minerals.  Beans can help with weight loss because they are low in fat and high in fiber and protein.
  • Cooked beans can stay in your fridge for a couple of days (or try freezing them too).
  • When I cooked pinto beans I found that 1 cup dry measurement came to about 2 and 1/2 cups cooked beans.
  • It is recommended that we eat 3 cups of beans per week!
  • Cooked white beans can be substituted as your oil/fat ingredients in recipes like cookies.  Try making a batch of brownies using cooked black beans instead of vegetable oil. 
1 cup dry pinto beans, 2 and 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans
Try making a delicious pot of Bean and Ham Soup or these yummy Veggie Burritos.  What method or recipe do you like best when making beans?

Happy Eating!


Rachel said...

Pressure cooker. No need to soak. I have an electric pressure cooker. I cook say, small white beans, on high pressure, for 35mins with slow release... and have totally soft cooked beans in about an hour total time. :D

kenlowder said...

I prefer to soak mine overnight. OI put them in a covered pot and just leave them on the stove. They have always come out great. I usually cook them on the stove or in a crock pot if i'm taking them in for the crew at work. NEVER heard a complaint from the nurses that i work with.


Dana said...

I recently "discovered" how to cook beans in the pressure cooker. I will never do it any other way now! After they have been soaked...You can either soak overnight.... OR quick soak by putting in a pan of water & bring to a boil. Take OFF heat...let set for one hour. THEN~ (This is where the REAL savings of time is).... put some water in the pressure cooker, add hard beans that you soaked... turn on high, when the pressure cooker nozzle starts jiggling & letting off steam, set timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes,Take off heat. One kind of bean may take less or a little more ... I mostly cook pinto, or kidney beans.

Anonymous said...

Glad to have the proportions for soaking and the amount of beans that 1 cup dried beans will make. What is a general rule of thumb for water-to-beans for cooking them if you've soaked them and if you haven't? We like a good amount of 'soup' with our beans.

Cookin' Cousins said...

Thanks for your question and comment. A general rule of thumb is 3 times the water (example: 1 cup beans to 3 cups water). Soaking beans is recommended. If you choose not to soak, I would still do a 1:3 ratio and as the day progresses you can add more water if desired.
Thank you