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Dried Beans – to soak or not to soak, that is the question

I’ve decided 2007 is the year of the bean where I get to know different types. I’m starting with yellow canary beans ... some Mexican, some Peruvian.

Anyway, should dried beans be soaked? This site doesn’t seem to think so saying ...

“Some say soak your beans, don't do it, cook them hard and fast, you get better taste”
http://huichol-art.com/chavies/Beans....

Do you just use enough water to cover the beans if you cook without soaking?

If you do soak beans, is there such a thing as over-soaking? I found this chart for the minimum times of soaking various beans, but no maximum times.
http://missvickie.com/howto/beans/bea...

Found an old Chowhound thread with a little about over-soaking ... leads to fermentation. It also suggests beans don’t need to be soaked at all.
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/298684

I was thinking of either cooking up the beans right now or (as of noon) soaking the beans to cook about 1 day from now.

There are suggestions for quick soaking ... bring beans in water to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove from stove (I assume). Leave in water for 2-3 hours then cook until tender. So if I do this does that mean when I cook later on that I bring the beans back to a boil and simmer until tender?

Also, does the soaking pot matter? Does it matter if I just put them in a mason jar or do I need a larger bowl for more exposure to water?

The Mexican beans I have came in bulk ... so no instructions. The Puruvian beans just have a recipe for Frijoles Criollos which says basically after cooking some onions & garlic in 2 oz of oil, add beans oregano, salt, pepper & tomato paste and cook for 45 minutes. Doesn’t have measurements other than the oil. Doesn’t say anything anywhere on the package for cooking the beans.

That being said, with all my beans this year I just want to cook them plain first to get the basic flavor/texture.

So ... to soak or not? Maybe this should also be the year of the cooking class for me too.

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  1. I say soak overnight and rinse....know that most legumes will expand 3X so make sure you leave room in the container...rumor has it that an overnight soak will also help release the gaseous enzymes...

    Also, cooking dried beans is certainly doable but much care/attention is needed to make sure they don't burn as they'll absorb much more water than soaked beans...

    1. I'm a fan of the quick soak - boil, turn off heat and let them sit with the lid on for an hour. Drain, cover with fresh water, boil hard for 10 min, skim off any scum, then add aromatics and simmer till done.

      According to Deborah Madison, soaking shortens cooking time, allows beans that are dry or immature to float to the surface where they can be skimmed off, and removes some of the complex sugar that causes indigestion. She goes on to say that while beneficial, soaking CAN be skipped - particularly if you are using a pressure cooker.

      As far as a "overnight" soak, most beans absorb all the water they will within 4 hours.

      Make sure to cover your beans with lots of water when soaking (at least 4 times the volume of your beans).

      And of course, lentils don't need to soak at all.

      1. I used to soak, but not anymore. When we were doing Bayless for Cookbook of the Month I was reading a lot about Mexican cooking, not only because I knew nothing about it but because I thought the directions and explanations in his Everyday cookbook just weren't as good as in his previous books and in other books on Mexican and Southwest cooking. Anyway, can't quote the source, but one of the authorities I was reading said, essentially, why soak the beans and throw out all the flavor that's leached into the soaking water. Made sense to me. Haven't soaked since. I rinse them, cover with about 2 inches of water, keep the water at that level throughout the cooking, and cook at the barest simmer (so the beans don't burst)for about 3 hours. I've done this with both pintos and black beans and have been very pleased with the results.

        3 Replies
        1. re: JoanN

          This makes total sense. Thanks for this, I will heed your advice. I also use a pressure cooker many times for beans, especially ones with ham hocks.

          1. re: personalcheffie

            I think that the soak to some extent is needed, with some beans. Black beans are tough to get soft, for example. But, soaking with or without a boil, and for long or shot times (long without a boil will lead to fermentation), is not a big deal. I prefer a cold soak with a bean that softens easily, like a lentil, and a boil with a harder bean like the black.

            Throwing out the water is throwing of flavor. So, I wash them well, before I soak, then soak and keep the water for when I cook the beans.

            1. re: Captain

              I have never soaked lentils. I have always thrown out the soaking water, so I won't do that anymore. Have always washed well and picked over.

        2. I can't detect any difference between soaked and unsoaked beans. So I soak, to save money on fuel. And I don't throw out the soaking water, I cook the beans in it.

          1. I have been told that the soaking water contains most of the indigestible "gas-causing" elements of the beans, and should be discarded.

            1 Reply
            1. re: wayne keyser

              It is true, according to Harold McGee, that the soaking water contains the gaseous elements in the beans. But if you throw it out, you're also throwing out significant vitamins and minerals. Long, slow cooking will break down those elements and make them digistable.

            2. You're probably all bored to death with my saying this, but I have lived in Mexico for nearly 26 years.

              I do not know a single Mexican cook who soaks beans.

              Naturally, YMMV.

              3 Replies
              1. re: cristina

                Never bored, cristina ... tried the first batch unsoaked. They were fine. I'm soaking some tonight to see if the taste/texture is any different. I will tell you that those beans from Peru taste like ... beans.

                Unsoaked beans DO absorb lots of water as noted.

                1. re: cristina

                  Just curious-- do many of them use pressure cookers?

                  1. re: JGrey

                    Yes, many Mexican housewives use pressure cookers for beans. Many more still use the traditional covered clay pot, which imparts a flavor that a pressure cooker cannot.

                2. as a sidebar, the more frequently you eat beans, the less reactive your system will be to the potential gassy after-effects.

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: Snackish

                      Nor in my case either (also blushing)

                  1. I soak if I'm cooking pintos or I'm going to be pressed for time. Lentils, as someone mentioned, don't need soaking. My mom gets these Anasazi beans that are like pintos but cook a lot faster. I don't soak them. With those beans I can decide at 5 that I want beans for supper and have them happily done and on the table, along with cornbread and whatever else I want, within an hour and a half. Can't do that with pintos!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: revsharkie

                      I pretty much agree with you. I don't have time. Sometimes I have used the quick soak method which seemed to work. I usually soak all day and then cook when I get home. No pressure cooker either so I have never had any complaints, but I have tried a long all day event and honestly no difference for me, but I wasn't comparing side by side.

                      I also have done crock pot as chef chicklet mentioned. Works very well. I'm sure nutrionally and flavor wise there are better ways, but I have been happy with them the times I make them.

                    2. Interesting thread on this here:

                      http://www.cookingforengineers.com/fo...

                      Very last post says the reason I'd heard-- soaking leaches out the phytic acid, which is an anti-nutrient (blocks absorption of lots of other stuff). The America's Test Kitchen pH level tests were informative, also.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: JGrey

                        Phytic acid should actually be good for you...

                        "Phytic acid may be considered a phytonutrient, providing an antioxidant effect. Phytic acid's mineral binding properties may also prevent colon cancer by reducing oxidative stress in the lumen of the intestinal tract. Researchers now believe phytic acid, found in the fiber of legumes and grains, is the major ingredient responsible for preventing colon cancer and other cancers.

                        In vitro studies using a cell culture model have suggested phytic acid may have a neuroprotective effect by chelating iron. Similar types of cell-culture studies have found phytic acid significantly decreased apoptotic cell death induced by 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium. Phytic acid, at least in rodents, is known to cross the blood–brain barrier, and so, there is a strong possibility that neuroprotection occurs in vivo as well.

                        Phytic acid's chelating effect may serve to prevent, inhibit, or even cure some cancers by depriving those cells of the minerals (especially iron) they need to reproduce. The deprivation of essential minerals like iron would, much like other systemic treatments for cancers, also have negative effects on noncancerous cells.

                        A randomized, controlled trial in breast cancer patients showed no effect on chemotherapy-induced anemia or tumor markers, but the patients reported subjectively feeling better.

                        Phytic acid is one of few chelating therapies used for uranium removal.

                        It has been shown to be a required cofactor for YopJ, a toxin from Yersinia pestis. It is also a required cofactor for the related toxin AvrA from Salmonella typhimurium as well as Clostridium difficile Toxin A and Toxin B.

                        As a food additive, phytic acid is used as a preservative, as E391."

                        1. re: fosgailte

                          Nope. Wrong. Phytates (phytic acid) bind to metal ions, preventing the absorption of certain minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. That is not a healthy diet.

                          1. re: pdxsk8nfool

                            Soak beans and grains overnight starting with warm water 8-12 hours to increase your iron absorption. It reduces phytic acid according to many including: http://www.ironrichfood.org/

                            The dry beans started with when cooked to desired tenderness after soaking turn out yummy.

                      2. One of my Mexican friends here in Patzcuaro turned us on to Peruano (Peruvian) beans. Much better than pinto. We are at 7800 feet, so I combine a short pre-soak with the pressure cooker and have fantastic beans in about 1 hour. I bring the beans up to a boil, cover and let them sit on the stove (heat off) for about 10 minutes. I then rinse and start again in the pressure cooker with fresh water. After the pressure cooker goes its magic, I adjust seasoning and mash some of the beans against the side of the pot to make a thicker broth.

                        1. I am a U.S.A citizen living in Mexico for 6 years and have observed many Mexicans cooking in restaurants and at home. No one soaks beans, either quick method or overnight. I agree with an earlier poster, that the more your eat legunes, the more used to their possible "effects". Another consideration is the freshness of the dried beans. If you live in a city with a Latino community, try buying your beans in bulk. They will be as fresh as are possible, and certainly fresher than those in the 1# bags at the supermarket.
                          Never boil hard, simmer at a slow pace, with a couple of cloves of whole garlic, that can be removed later. Never salt until completely cooked, as salt tends to make the skins tough.

                          1. I, too, have just started exploring the wonders of the dried bean and have been having great success. My favorite way to prepare them is in the crock-pot using the recipe from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless as a jumping off point. Basically, I put the beans (unsoaked) in the crock-pot and cover them with more than an inch or so of boiling water. I usually throw in some garlic, onion, and maybe a chipotle pepper. Then 3-4 hours on high or 6 or more hours on low (depending on the type of bean) and I've a got a really flavorful pot of beans ready to go - couldn't be easier!

                            I found the recipe as it's written in Mexican Everyday to have too much water for my taste (more like bean soup than beans in a thick bean-y sauce) so I start with enough water to cover plus and inch or so and then check it after a few hours to see if it needs more water.

                            18 Replies
                            1. re: lunamint

                              Hmmmm - I think I'm going to try your technique. Interesting. Pouring in boiling water - I hadn't run across that for crock pot beans before.

                              1. re: audreyhtx1

                                If the beans need extra water, do not add in cold water. You must add in only hot water, or the beans will turn black and taste kinda funny. You can also read my post at the bottom of all the post for more info.

                                1. re: audreyhtx1

                                  Today I tried it. I put half the cold water in with the non-soaked pinto beans, and then slowly poured in the rest of the water just off the boil. [I was just trying to avoid sudden temp changes for the crockery] The resulting water was pretty darn hot.

                                  I set my timer for 6 hours on high, based on Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday (Rick brings the beans to a boil on the stovetop and then pours into a crockpot and adds the other ingredients and cooks for hours), thinking it would take longer perhaps since I didn't boil the beans in the water first.

                                  I returned home after 4.5 hours, and the pinto beans were already quite soft, splitting and more than done. Broth already creamy. So 4 hours was probably all that was needed with the hot water.

                                  No more soaking for me! And I don't even think I'll bother starting with the hot water. I don't mind if it takes a bit longer. In fact, I could have used the extra hour or two because I still need to add the sautee the veggies and meat to turn them into Frijoles Charros.

                                  BTW - for 1 pound of beans, 6 to 7 cups of water is plenty for my 3 1/2 quart oval crock pot.

                                  1. re: audreyhtx1

                                    You should NEVER USE THE WATER YOU SOAKED THE BEANS IN - this water contains the phytic acid whch soaking is intended to remove. Educate yourself on this phytic acid, it binds the minerals in the soup, and the minerals in your body, it is extremely dangerous to growing children, as it can cause mental retardation in extreme cases, small stature and anemia. In adults, it can cause osteoporosis. Soak all beans, nuts, seeds, and grains (barley, oats, wheat, etc.) overnight before using them.

                                    1. re: Adrianne43

                                      what happens to phytic acid if beans are just cooked from dried?

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        I don't know the answer to your question, but you might possibly benefit by Googling WHFoods.com about phytic acid. I just did that and plenty of links are returned. I checked a couple, actually 3, WHFoods pages that mention this acid, for both beans and grains, but none of these mention anything about cooking beans without some pre-soaking and the editor of the website explains two methods for pre-soaking. One is to rinse the beans, put them in a pot, add 2 to 3 cups water for every cup of beans, bring to a boil, boil for 2 minutes, take off of the burner, let sit for a while, dump out that initial water, rinse the beans again (may as well also rinse pot), put the beans back in the pot, add enough water to have at least 1 inch of water above the beans, bring to a boil, immediately lower to simmer, and then simmer for maybe 45 minutes for lima beans, 60 to 90 minutes for black, kidney, pinto, Garbanzo (aka chickpeas), .... The other method is the LONG pre-soaking method and I'm not interested in doing that, so I use the faster 2-minute boil, ..., method. That way, it takes no more than a half of a day to cook the beans.
                                        I trust the WHFoods editor about this, for he's always leaning in the direction of caution, safety, fullest nutrition, ....

                                      2. re: Adrianne43

                                        Please re-educate yourself - Only soaking in an acid medium, lactic acid fermentation, and sprouting will be more beneficial than simply cooking the food which will reduce the phytic acid (http://www.fao.org/agris/search/displ...)
                                        Contrary , one study correlated decreased risk factors for osteoporosis (López-González AA, Grases F, Roca P, Mari B, Vicente-Herrero MT, Costa-Bauzá A (December 2008). "Phytate (myo-inositol hexaphosphate) and risk factors for osteoporosis". Journal of Medicinal Food 11 (4): 747–52. doi:10.1089/jmf.2008.0087. PMID 19053869)

                                  2. re: lunamint

                                    The other day I did black beans on the stove top without soaking. They came out great! The only problem was that I had to keep adding water. That was a pain. They were done in about 3 hours. Longer than the book said. I think I was following one of Roberto Santibañez books.

                                    So, because I found that adding water was a pain, I decided to return to my trusty crockpot and try Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday recommendations for crockpot beans.

                                    Those results are posted in a reply above.

                                    1. re: audreyhtx1

                                      I recently made black beans and soaked them but it's one bean I don't like to use a fast cooking method like a pressure cooker which I routinely use for garbanzos.

                                      I often don't like to soak black beans because I want to infuse as much flavor into the dish as I can with the longer cooking time. When making Cuban black beans I always start with onions, garlic, green pepper, bay leaves, salt and pepper and olive oil. When cooking for a longer time the veg cooks down to nothing. I make a separate sofrito to add near the end of cooking to again enhance flavor and to give some texture and visual interest. I like to finish my black beans with a hit of red wine vinegar and a dash of fresh ground cumin.

                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                        I finally didn't soak the black beans because Roberto Santibañez in his Rosa's Mexican Table cookbook warns that soaking them causes off flavors due fermentation. That finally got me to "kick the habit". And yep - best black beans I ever made. Best color too.

                                        Love the sofrito added at the end! Even in the locally ubiquitous Frijoles Charros, they add the seasoned meat and vegetables near the end, sauteeing first then adding to the pot (or vice versa). I live in TX along the Mexican border - known as "The Valley" and became determined to learn how to make this lovely bean soup/side dish.

                                        1. re: audreyhtx1

                                          Thanks for the validation. Yes when I've seen the purple color being poured off black beans after soaking I think that could be in my pot.

                                          1. re: audreyhtx1

                                            You should be more concerned with your health and the health of your family than the "off flavor" -- If you do not soak the beans, it causes the phytic acid in the beans to bind the minerals in your soup, which can cause osteoporosis, anemia, weakening of the bones and in excessive cases mental retardation. There is phytic acid in beans, nuts, seeds and grains -- all need to be soaked over night before using them, or the phytic acid will build up in your system and leach the calcium out of your bones

                                            1. re: Adrianne43

                                              I would say most people in the US don't rely soly on beans and grains for calcium

                                              While not soaking beans can lead to mineral reduction it's a far cry to leading to mental retardation

                                              1. re: Adrianne43

                                                Again Adrianne43 - Please re-educate yourself. Eventhough it can contribute to mineral deficiencies in people whose diets rely on these foods for their mineral intake, simply soaking in water will not remove the phytic acid like you are thinking. You must soak in an acid medium not plain H2O. Furthermore, most phylic acid is removed just by cooking the foods. I can sight until I'm blue-in-the-face, but until you do more studies I suggest that you start a probiotic regiem if you are concerned about your digestion and nutrient absorption health. - Have a great day!

                                                1. re: WineMaker747

                                                  It's true that most of the phytic acids in grain, seed, and legume coverings are broken down by long-term cooking (several hours). One notable exception is soya beans. The phytic acid in soya beans doesn't reduce noticeably from soaking or long-term cooking. It takes long-term fermentation (6+ months) to reduce the phytates and other significant anti-nutritive components in soya beans. They should never be eaten in any quantity if not fermented. Historically, they never have been.

                                                  1. re: pdxsk8nfool

                                                    +1, Soybeans are only high in iron if they are fermented. Soybeans contain an inhibitor called phytic acid that keeps your body from absorbing iron. Common forms of soybeans such as soy milk and tofu are not fermented and, thereby, are not iron rich.

                                            2. re: scubadoo97

                                              sounds perfect, scubadoo.

                                              i grew up with cuban black bean soup like yours, and love it.

                                              in a caribbean cookbook (levi roots') i just recently saw a swirl-in addition for the soup -- a pretty roasted red pepper crema. it really was nice. it would be neat to do the swirl, then sprinkle micro-diced red and green bell peppers and onion or shallot. love the vinegar…always! cheers.

                                              here is a little story on levi roots and a couple of recipes from the cookbook. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                The red pepper crema and diced pepper garnish sound excellent. Have to give that a try

                                        2. Actually, Goya beans are generally very fresh, and they have easily decipherable date codes, though you do have to look closely for them, they're in small type sort of randomly wherever the printing head hit the bag on the back. The format is right on their own website: first three digits are the day of the year, the next 2 the year, the others the packing plant ID. (I think these are on their canned beans, too.) In NYC anyway, pretty much any regular food store in existence carries them, in some neighborhoods, in variety that would surprise many people.

                                          Bulk can be worth it (or 5lb Goya bags) but it's usually not a lot cheaper and then, you either have to use them or end up eating beans that got old sitting on your shelf rather than the store's. No point in that in that to save maybe $.25-.50/lb.

                                          1. I love beans, any color any shape from any country. I have done both methods, only because I have forgotten to soak the beans overnight and have been rushed to cook the beans for that day.

                                            I like to make beans that are more like a bean stew. I do clean them, pick them over and cook them in water they soak in.

                                            Black beans say for a salad I prefer firm, but will puree when making a black beam soup with bacon, lime, crema and cilantro.

                                            I've talked with several "close" friends and we find that not all beans, affect our digestive system the same way. Some say that they have no problem with the red bean, but the black bean ,their favorite, well, that is another story.

                                            Has anyone heard to add a tablespoon of vinegar to the beans while cooking? Or is that an old wives tale?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: chef chicklet

                                              I have better luck using the crockpot for beans also.

                                            2. Thanks all.

                                              I just suck at cooking. I just don't have the patience ... even for something like beans ... burnt two batches ... though I did get into the smokey flavor of the burnt beans and the crispy pieces ... sort of veggie carnitas.

                                              Cant tell you about the nutrients lost, but there wasn't much flavor difference between soaked over-night and unsoaked. It was more of a matter of cooking time as someone else noted.

                                              The soaked beans took less time to cook ... about 1/3 the time.

                                              There MIGHT be a flavor difference but I'm not sure if it had to do with how long I cooked each batch.

                                              I found the longer the beans cooked, the more water they absorbed and the flavor started to get lost.

                                              No kidding about the beans expanding when soaked overnight. I was thinking the soaked beans were a little more watery ... but again ... might have cooked them too long.

                                              The last batch (unsoaked) I tried while they were a little underdone. They were amazingly tasty ... sweet and nutty. When they became softer there was no sweetness left. Maybe the sugar in the bean converted to starch in the cooking process?

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: rworange

                                                If you want an absolutely foolproof method of cooking beans, use a slow cooker with a built-in timer. Before you leave for work in the morning, dump the beans in the crock with plenty of water (a smoked turkey wing / ham hock / etc. would also be welcome) set the machine to cook on low for 6 hours, and leave. You'll come home to a cheap, healthy, tasty meal.

                                                As to soaking, it's very helpful if your beans are stale. But it's generally preferable just to use good beans in the first place.

                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                  I did small picnic ham, sliced onions and garlic, dried rosemary and bay, white beans and then chopped up the ham and added it to some wilted spinach and ham. I sauteed the spinach in olive oil with some fresh thin sliced angle cut celery and thin mushrooms. Then a side of the beans and topped the beans with some of the diced ham and some grated gruyere. I still had to make the spinach and shred the ham but I used a bag of baby spinach and presliced criminis from the farmers market. It still took 15 minutes till dinner and so good

                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                    In my old crockpot, when I tried to cook beans on low, they ended up hard and uncooked. I have to use high to get the job done.

                                                    1. re: Sharuf

                                                      Ditto similar experiences.

                                                      Yesterday, before heading out for an afternoon of soccer matches, I started a batch of yellow split pea and returned to a very pleasant aroma throughout the house. When I check on the batch, the soup had thickened and a majority of the peas were completely dissolved. Given that I didn't have any leftovers, I'm guessing the soup was fine... This was my first attempt at split pea in quite a while; were the yellow peas supposed to dissolve like that? I don't remember the "split pea soups I'd made in the past producing similar results (although, I'll admit my memory isn't as resilient or trustworthy as it once was.)

                                                      1. re: Sharuf

                                                        I do soak mine first and once I did get a batch of apparently stale beans. They never got soft. But everyother time they come out great. But I do soak mine first.

                                                        1. re: Sharuf

                                                          As far as I can tell, the "low" setting on recently-made crockpots is pretty close to the "high" setting on older ones. One theory that's been espoused here is that the manufacturers upped the temperatures out of concern that food might spend too long in the "danger zone." But your overall point is well-taken - the recipe may need to be adjusted to account for variations among crock pots, beans, etc.

                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                            It is hard, I have only had 2 in 25 years. My smaller version and my larger oval one. This one has low, med low, med, med high and high. Mine low is pretty much the same. However, different brands I have heard are much different. My friends smaller one low didn't cook his ribs (even though he had a smaller amount that I made. They should of cooked similar. 6 hours of medium and his were not close. 4 hours on medium and mine were done. Also other friends who have tried it and the same. Results can really vary according to your crock.

                                                            And I agree with maybe with health concerns they upped it. Who knows.

                                                            1. re: kchurchill5

                                                              Marvelous double-entendre talk K. How am I to know if it's a crock, or not?

                                                    2. This may be 'controversial' but I soak beans overnight in Chicken Broth. My rule of thumb with cooking is why use water when I can use chicken broth? With rice, with soups, with almost anything (Well, not a cake). I let the beans soak overnight in chicken broth, rise them thoroughly, then cook according to whatever recipe I am using. If someone is a vegetarian, I say, use vegetable broth. It just adds even more flavor.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Tom P

                                                        I would advise against leaving broth out overnight. It is a very favorable environment for the breeding of bacteria.

                                                        1. re: antepiedmont

                                                          You're right about the bacteria, but once the beans are brought to a boil and then simmered for an hour or more the bacteria will die.

                                                      2. IMO---

                                                        There is only 1 main advantage for soaking beans. It helps clean them.

                                                        Saves time?

                                                        No, its an additional step and ones bad in math, seldom adds the soaking time into the cooking time. Proportionaly preposterous!

                                                        Cook-M-&-Git-R-Done! :-D

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: RShea78

                                                          What is the additional step? When you soak you just wait a few hours between two steps in unsoaked beans. The savings are in cooking time and fuel - not time elapsed from the first thought of cooking beans.

                                                          1. re: noahbirnel

                                                            Ok, here is a random reciepe for GN beans.

                                                            ""Preparation, uses, and tips

                                                            Before cooking, soak the beans for 8 hours and pressure cook for 20 minutes, __or__ simmer on the stove for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. After cooking with savory spices, Great Northern beans can be puréed into a delicious soup, sauce, or pâté. 1 cup of dried Great Northern beans yields approximately 2 1/2 cups of cooked beans.""

                                                            You have 8:20 (Eight hours and twenty minutes) invested in the first scenario OR the 10 hours total in the last. Choice given is to pressure cook or simmer the soaked beans.

                                                            Mine would be to simmer for 5 to 6 hours and serve. Also, any slow cooked bean seems be greatly enhance in flavor, with additional simmering.

                                                            I do not think soaking the beans helps retain the good flavor and at room temp soaks there is food borne bacteria risks. Cooking doesn't cook out all harmful bacteria.

                                                            > > The savings are in cooking time and fuel < <

                                                            That is where I disagree. Time is in the labors of the meal. From the beginning to the end...

                                                            -----

                                                            1. re: RShea78

                                                              just a neurotic correction...cooking DOES kill all harmful bacteria, but doesn't destroy all toxins that said bacteria produced while they were living.

                                                        2. For Mexican or otherwise creamy or long-cooked beans, I don't see any reason to soak. However, if you're cooking dried cannelinis you absolutely need to soak, and the reason is for consistency. If you don't soak beans that you aren't turning to mush, i.e. using for salad, and you cook them you will find that by the time some are cooked through others are still way underdone. I'm not sure why beans are this inconsistent but I've done this experiment at home. (Actually it wasn't an experiment, twice I needed cannelini bean salad for a potluck and I didn't soak and they were a nightmare.)

                                                          For a quick soak I start the beans in plenty of cold water, bring up to a boil, boil for one minute, turn off the heat, and let them come down to room temp. Strain, add fresh cold water, bring up to a gentle simmer, and simmer until tender, strain and cool.

                                                          This is for cannelinis only (or any other bean you wish to keep whole, like garbanzos)

                                                          1. I always soak my black or garbanzo beans overnight. Yes, I add one tablespoon of vinegar per 1 lb bag of black beans. This adds great flavor.

                                                            As far as Mexican Pinto beans go, my abuelita (grandma) and the rest of my family never pre-soak.

                                                            Some beans are quite tough and will require overnight soaking. Avoiding this will increase the cooking time significantly.

                                                            1. I have learned that the older (meaning shelf life) the beans are, the more need for an overnight soak. It is important to find a source at your local farmers market who can sell you bulk beans. I only buy lentils at the supermarket.

                                                              Also it depends on what type of bean. I learned recently of a simple Kritan (Cretan) recipe which does not require an overnight soak, although half way through the cooking time, you drain the beans, wash and start with fresh water again. The man who gave me this recipe said this way the beans won't turn that ugly gray color. Sure enough I made perfect beans, the recipe calls for draining the beans, serve on a small plate add thinly sliced onion on top a little parsley drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Simple and perfect dish. Oh and you salt in the last part of cooking the beans.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: E.Kolliopoulos

                                                                That sounds good. What kind of bean does that recipe call for?

                                                                1. re: fooddude37

                                                                  Dear Fooddude,
                                                                  So sorry I failed to mention that, as it is vital!!! Black eyed peas. This is classic Cretan fare. The meal always starts off with bread rusks and olives, then a plate of really great potatoes baked, cut open then drizzled with very good quality olive oil (Sitia .03 if you can get it), dried oregano, salt and pepper (the point here is to have excellent potatoes, I learned what a potato is supposed to taste like when we moved here.)the thin skinned golden potatoes are in my memory what would be best if I were in the states. Then we might have snails, eggs cooked in Staka, pasta boiled in goat broth (my favorite)mountain greens with lemon and olive oil, and some herb I have never in my life had with just lemon and vinegar.

                                                                  It all sounds so simple, but every time we go to this taverna, I cannot believe how good it is. It helps the owner plays the mandolina, oudi and whatever instrument he happens to have hanging on the walls.

                                                                  Also, another similar bean dish is with canolini beans mixed with arugula topped with red onions and drizzle of Olive oil and lemon. excellent.

                                                              2. I thought for years that I hated dried beans. Turns out it is pre-soaked dried beans that I hate. I never soak beans anymore, and to my taste, the flavour is much much better.

                                                                Russ Parsons discusses this in depth in his book "How to Read a French Fry" - well worth a read for its overall simple introduction to kitchen science. His conclusion is that soaking beans can minorly shorten the cooking time (10-15 minutes in his experiments), at the possible expense of taste (if you discard the soaking water), and does nothing to reduce the level of gas causing compounds.

                                                                1. One more voice here!
                                                                  There are many different families of beans so you can't speak in absolutes when it comes to cooking them. Also freshness is a key to how long they will take to cook.
                                                                  Phaseolus vulgaris don't really need to be soaked but I think they have a nicer texture when they are.
                                                                  I tend to soak 4 hours and I keep the soaking water. The bean broth is tastier if you don't use too much water and one advantage to soaking is you can judge the water better.
                                                                  The Quick Soak method makes no sense to me. If you are soaking them in hot water, you might as well be cooking them.
                                                                  I have found Russ Parson's method of not soaking and "baking" in the oven inconsistent.

                                                                  1. Of course you soak beans. And, I would advise you to discount any post that says otherwise. The creation of unwanted intestinal gas (unless you enjoy passing gas, and ruining everyone else's day), begins with the arrival of small chains of carbohydrates (called oligosaccharides) into the large intestine. People cannot digest these molecules efficiently, but bacteria residing at the end of the gut do and produce gas as a byproduct. Overnight soaking removes 28% of the "gas-causing" material in beans, and the quick soak, amazingly, removes 42.5% of the gas-causing material. Does presoaking affect the taste and texture of the bean? Not withstanding the posts I've read here, in my opinion, there is no noticeable difference. Do your guests thank you the next day, because they are not creating a fire hazard in their bedroom that night, by passing gas (LOL)? In my experience the answer would be yes.

                                                                    My source for the percentages of intestinal gas production comes from "Cooks Illustrated", a wonderful magazine.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: dhedges53

                                                                      'Removes', or 'destroys'? Are we talking soak, drain, add new water, and cook? Or soak and cook?

                                                                      1. re: noahbirnel

                                                                        Although I'm not a chemist, I would guess that soaking "removes" the oligosaccharides. So, I would soak, drain, and add new water.

                                                                        1. re: dhedges53

                                                                          Other "experts" disagree.
                                                                          I know in Mexico they never soak and I've never experienced a problem there.

                                                                    2. I don't soak, and I use a preasure cooker. I guess I like it fast.

                                                                      1. I soaked some white kidney beans apparently not long enough (2 hours), then tossed them in a soup with chicken broth and salt. Cooked for nearly 3 hours, thinking they would soften up. But they never did completely...I guess the salt prevents that. Is it still OK to eat these beans?

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: lizamelia

                                                                          It's been shown that salt does not lead to hard beans. Acid on the other hand does keep beans from softening and old beans will never soften.

                                                                        2. Daisy Cooks with Daisy Martinez this a.m.: no soaking for any bean except garbanzos. she cooked "dried white navy beans" from dry to done in two hours. A revelation.
                                                                          This is not from today's show, but shows her technique --- here with black bean soup:
                                                                          http://www.daisycooks.com/pages/recip...

                                                                          ps she adds no salt until they are cooked.

                                                                          ps her sofrito addition looks PERFECT for flavoring here!

                                                                          1. i do the "quick method" soak. rinse and cover with water. bring to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes, then take off the heat and leave covered for approx 1-2 hrs (vs 8 or overnight). then cook for about an hour or so depending on the bean.

                                                                            dont add seasoning until they're cooked through...salt/sodium will stop the softening process.

                                                                            1. I listen to Rick Bayless and don't soak. Pork fat, onion, rinsed beans, boil until tender, then add salt and cook 15 minutes more.

                                                                              1. I've been working my way through the various vintage 2007 dried beans sold by Tierra Vegetables in Santa Rosa these past two months. I've either cooked them directly or used the quick soak (boil briefly, toss water, add fresh water to cook) method. Since they're so fresh, the direct cook method is fine and they're tender in 30 minutes or less usually. The quick soak gives a more consistent result with fewer hard pellets and the beans seem less gassy to me, so that's what I use. For soups that I'll be simmering for an hour or more, I just toss the dried beans in the pot.

                                                                                1. You already got your answer but I landed on this site and thought you might enjoy it, too.

                                                                                  http://missvickie.com/howto/beans/how...

                                                                                  I liked having a majority of the beans listed with recommended soaking times. Just remember the term "field dust" and you'll know that soaking isn't just for releasing those oligosaccharides.

                                                                                  1. I always soak (overnight or fast version) red beans. Was taught at a very young age that soaking them would remove some of the gas....don't know if it's true or not, but I continue to soak red beans and black beans.

                                                                                    1. It has been said that old beans will never soften. This apparently happened to me many years ago. I had to throw those pintos out.
                                                                                      For those who say "hard and fast": I'm not buying it. Why do they suggest a "fast" method of soaking or a "long" method of soaking if you don't need to soak them at all? I'm gonna go try a small batch of (my fresh), pintos by going into an immediate slow simmer, but I don't think I'll be eating my words, or my beans.

                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Scargod

                                                                                        I've been cooking beans for years without soaking and over the last few years I have been salting at the onset of cooking. No problems yet. I find the soak an unnecessary step. Sure it will save some cooking time but you still need to deal with the soaking time so I don't see the benefit.

                                                                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                          When I cook them, I soak overnight and put them in a slow cooker the next morning. I'm fast asleep while they're soaking, so it's not lost time. I've always salted with kosher salt and never had a problem.

                                                                                          1. re: bayoucook

                                                                                            I sometimes will add some bacon fine diced, a couple of bay, a little stock and a fine diced onion (if the recipe calls for it, otherwise I just add whole bacon and a halfed onion just for flavor. Usually works great. Perfect every time.

                                                                                            I make a recipe with 5 different beans, all soaked and then put in the crock, onion, bacon, seasoning, broth and then a mix of worcestershire, ketchup, garlic, some leftover ground cooked turkey or beef or sausage and few other things and then cook. They come out thick, seasoned, great for a BBQ. So easy.

                                                                                            1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                              that combo sounds good. do you mix your own beans?
                                                                                              have you done your dish with the 10-bean combo?

                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                I have done many beans. I'm not sure ten, but I usually get a bunch ... I know that sounds odd, but I get what looks good and just add as I go. I have my standard 4 or 5 but then sometimes I may a few leftovers and add them to so now it becomes 7 or 8. They are not BBQ but flavorful. I'll try to find the recipe and send. And yes, mix my own. A local co op east of us has dried beans and I like to get them from them. I get a mix of whatever that way. But sometimes, just the grocery store. When I use 1/2 of a bag many times I add the rest to a big baggie I have. My left over bean mix. It can be a lot of fun because I never know what all is in there. This and that. Can make a great bean dish.

                                                                                                Also the beans I usually use turkey sausage or even ham, lighter than ground beef. but I've used it all. Nothing wrong with a mix. Use what you enjoy. I even used shredded chicken once and it was great.

                                                                                                I'll try to forward the recipe. Great BBQ or just a big mix for you at home.

                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                  Found it ...

                                                                                                  1 lb of your favorite sausage or you can use ground beef or turkey but I prefer sausage or even a mix of a spicy sausage
                                                                                                  and then some ground turkey. Cook first
                                                                                                  8 slices of bacon diced
                                                                                                  1 large chopped onion
                                                                                                  3 ribs of celery diced fine
                                                                                                  2 cups each soaked beans or 1 cup dry (7 kinds) I like black, pinto, navy, dark and light kidney, butter, and lima.
                                                                                                  But use your favorites
                                                                                                  1/2 cup ketchup
                                                                                                  5 tablespoons brown sugar, adjust according to how sweet you like it
                                                                                                  2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
                                                                                                  3 tablespoons minced garlic
                                                                                                  1 bay leaf
                                                                                                  1 teaspoon of all purpose seasoning
                                                                                                  salt and pepper to taste and vegetable broth
                                                                                                  I usually start with 1 can and use about 1 cup, homemade is even better. You can always use more if necessary.

                                                                                                  I soak the beans over night, then rinse in the morning and add to the crock pot. Add the bacon, sausage, onion celery and mix well. Then add the broth, ketchup, worcestershire, all other seasoning and mix. Turn on low for about 8 hours or high for about 4

                                                                                                  Great flavor. I love using some left over sausage or ground meat for this. I have used many combos and they all are good. Ground ham left over also is also great in this.

                                                                                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                    thanks k. let me ask, though, to me that looks like almost enough enough beans for nearly twice the amount of "seasonings." i mean, 14 cups of soaked beans to 1/2 C ketchup?

                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                      You can add more is you want. I do between 5-7 beans but I don't like alot of sauce so I tend to go light. By all means start with that and you can add more. Sometimes beans have too much sauce so I go on the light side. Definitely add more if you want

                                                                                                      1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                        i'd like to make that dish this weekend. we love beans. the last beans i made were chick peas with spinach and chicken (like an indian style), and before that butter beans (big limas) and a smoked hamhock.

                                                                                                        we cover the world. ;-).
                                                                                                        <ot, but that made me think of this.... http://www.charlesandhudson.com/archi... >

                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                          This depends on the bean. I'm a beaner, I should know. If you think that beans should always be soaked, then vitamins are being knocked out. If you think you should not soak beans, then according to you, "other nutrients" are being blocked; so, what you are saying is, beans are not so good for you. They come packed with so many nutrients, that they are good at packing a punch, which means: whether you soak or not, they will be beneficial. Fiber (B)ecomes. Protiens (E)ven. Vitamins (A)non... with Aminos opposite of (N)one. Molecularly enhanced by our (S)un! BEANS! Soak them, don't soak them, they will always be good for you, and taste GREAT!!! Just make sure to clean them true... yet, if you don't, the boiling water will do that too!!!!

                                                                                        2. Soaking, sprouting and fermenting are all traditional processes of treating beans (and other legumes and grains) for a reason. They break down toxins and anti-nutrients like lectins and phytic acid.

                                                                                          Left untreated, these compounds have various unpleasant effects. For one, they bind to nutrients in your food that you'd like to absorb, like iron and calcium, making them useless to you. Might as well get those nutrients that are the benefit of eating beans, right?

                                                                                          Also, lectins can interfere with the body's management of leptin, the hormone that signals fullness, and with insulin.

                                                                                          Why would plants have toxic compounds in their seeds? Think about it: it's in a plant's interest not to have the seed consumed if consumption destroys the seed. Toxins deter animals from consuming the seed. Only with effective treatment does the seed become good food, as our ancestors consistently figured out across cultures. This is why grains and beans are treated, traditionally at least, in every culture in which they appear.

                                                                                          Interestingly, pressure cookers also seem to break down phytic acid to some extent. Perhaps the best combination is soaking + pressure cooking?

                                                                                          Debs
                                                                                          www.seattlelocalfood.com

                                                                                          1. After reading many previous threads on this subject, I recently stopped soaking. I make a pot of beans at least once per week and they always turn out perfectly. I just toss in a quartered onion, maybe a bit of garlic and sometimes a piece of celery. Also, I have hard water so I use bottled water to cook my beans or they won't soften up at all.

                                                                                            1. "To soak or not to soak", that is the question! Still, freshness seems to be key to success, especially if you don't soak. It seems to me that fresh, dried beans are not wrinkled, or not as wrinkled as old beans. Kinda like I'm getting...
                                                                                              How long will a well-kept dried bean stay fresh; say, if it's kept in an air-tight container? Are no wrinkles a tell-tale sign of freshness?

                                                                                              1. We eat a lot of beans, and I usually soak to save time. Because I've been using Nigella Lawson's method of soaking overnight with a baking soda and flour slurry, the cooking time drops to 25-50 minutes, depending on the bean type, so I can just pop them in the pot when I get home from work and have good beans ready for dinner. But Monday night, I was lazy and soaked black beans without the soda slurry, and they took over an hour to cook last night!!! I was so mad at myself for skipping that step, but I admit that I'd kind of wondered whether it even made a difference. Definitive answer: yes.

                                                                                                Oh - and I will say that when I'm doing something special that really highlights the delicacy of the bean (like white beans and garlic), I will go without a soak. But for the everyday bean burritos or chickpea stew or bake beans, I can detect no difference in flavor or texture between the soaked and unsoaked beans. Can others?

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: RosemaryHoney

                                                                                                  What is the baking soda and flour slurry? We've had some substantial trouble getting good cooked beans, so are looking to experiment.

                                                                                                  1. re: evergreengirl

                                                                                                    I found the "recipe" here, so you can search for the original post, but what I do is mix 1tsp baking soda, 1T salt and 1T flour with just enough water to make a thin, smooth paste. Then I put my beans in a bowl with a bunch of water (not much of a measurer...) and add the paste. Mix well, let sit overnight or into next day. Rinse before you cook them...cooking time will be about 40 minutes for chickpeas, and they'll have a perfect creamy, yet firm texture.

                                                                                                    I too had trouble with cooking beans, particularly chickpeas, but this worked like magic - I couldn't believe it. No idea why you add the flour, though...

                                                                                                  1. Also remember not to add in cold water to your pinto beans, while they are boiling, because it will make them turn black and taste a little off. If you want to add in extra water while they are cooking (because the water is getting low and they aren't ready yet), don't forget to add in hot water (or broth) only! Also, if they happen to burn at the bottom, do not mix them around, or add in water, untill you carefully spoon out the top, unburned layers of beans, and put them out into a new (hot watered) pot, or they will taste really burnt all over, or be humados, as they say in Spanish. :) Experience from my mother's kitchen.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Mario A.C.

                                                                                                      What's the science behind them turning black from the addition of cold water?

                                                                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                        I'll do some research, but I'm almost sure it has to do with some kind of shock.

                                                                                                    2. How about: It depends.

                                                                                                      If you live someplace where dried beans are frequently cooked (NOLA, Mexico, etc) then your beans are probably fresh enough so that soaking wouldn't make much of a difference in texture or cooking time. Southern cooks who insist that soaking is unnecessary are correct---when it comes to their own local beans.

                                                                                                      Older beans (which are more common up north) will sometimes take hours and hours to cook, and perhaps never get really tender, unless you give them a head start with an overnight soaking.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. Soak overnight. Rinse. Cover in fresh water and cook about two hours until done the way you like. Eat a few to test every 15 minutes. This works for most dry beans including: red, pinto, navy, garbanzo, ...

                                                                                                        I do not add salt or acid like tomato sauce until done the way like. It is said by some that adding either will effect texture as well as keep beans tough. Not sure if believe, while follow to be safe just in case.

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: smaki

                                                                                                          Acid yes salt no. I salt and beans come out fine and seasoned

                                                                                                          1. re: smaki

                                                                                                            acids should only be added once beans have softened in cooking. salt is fine from the get-go.

                                                                                                          2. FWIW, this week I made the best batch of Boston style baked beans in my life--soaked refrigerated for a day and a half, tossed the water and rinsed, and proceeded with the recipe.

                                                                                                            Each to their own, I'm not messing with my success! :)

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: KSlink

                                                                                                              Can do it much quicker than that. I can be done in a half day, total. That might not always be what's most convenient for a person, for it would depend on a person's schedule. But, if it fits with the person's schedule, then cooking of beans can be done in half a day, a little over 4 hours. Otoh, you said baked beans and I'm not sure that this 4 to 5hr process would work for this. It does when boiling the beans to cook them though. Yet, I will imagine that the quick pre-soak part of the process would work for either baking or boiling beans to cook them, afterwards. This part of the process takes only 2 minutes, once the water begins to boil. You can read about it at WHFoods.com, where the editor speaks of the quick pre-soak and the long pre-soak methods, both. I always use the quick pre-soak, for this takes just a few minutes and doesn't require any refrigerator space, except after you've finished the cooking process, if you cook enough to have to store away your beans in refrigeration. I think most people would want to cook enough to have to store some away, for the quick pre-soak takes only 2 minutes once boiling point is reached, but the cooking part of the process takes 1 to 1.5 hours for kidney, pinto, black, ... beans, and about 45 minutes for lima beans. Given the total amount of time that this takes, I'd always cook enough for several meals or portions; and if it's only for me, which it usually is, then a good amount is going to be in need of refrigeration. Then we can just take out the pre-cooked beans and warm them up, or eat them cold.
                                                                                                              Anyway, the quick pre-soak method might be something you could benefit from, so I suggest going to WHFoods.com pages for beans. Each bean has a page dedicated to/for it, and this is accessed through the index entitled WHFoods List, or something very close to that. Visitors will find the link in many, but not all pages at the website. It's definitely found in the home page and I think also pages about the different foods that the website provides plenty of information about.

                                                                                                            2. This has nothing to do with cooking time, or the gassiness of the beans. This is about nutrition.
                                                                                                              I found a great article on line which explains this in fine detail -- it is westonaprice.org Check out this article called Living with phytic acid.

                                                                                                              It says that Beans, rice, nuts, corn, and seeds contain phytic acid. When you eat these, the "arms" of the acid attach to the minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc) in your body - robbing your body of minerals and Vitamin D, resulting in osteoporosis, anemia, tooth cavities, and in growing children, mal-formed jaws ,cavities, small stature and weak bones. Phytase is an enzyme that neutralizes phytic acid - but humans do not produce enough phytase to safely consume high-phytate foods, so it is important to remove as much phytic acid as possible prior to cooking.

                                                                                                              You can remove phytic acid by sprouting grains, soaking and germinating grains. He lists several methods, and explains the benefits of each. All beans contain phytic acid the best way to reduce phytates is sprout them for several days, then cook. Soaking beans at room temperature for 12 hours reduces phytates only about 8-20%.

                                                                                                              Brown rice is particularly high in phytates, Sour the rice at 90 degrees for 16 hours to 24 hours using a starter - (when you soak the rice save 10% of the soak water in a jar in the refrigerator, rinse the rice and cook in clean water -- next time you make rice, add the saved soak water - and replace it with 10% of the soak water from this batch - eventually, the rice will be about 96% free of phytic acid). Alternatively, you can soak the rice 8 hours in hot water plus some lemon juice or vinegar in a tightly closed mason jar - the rice will stay warm with the heat it generates. Drain, rinse and cook.

                                                                                                              Nuts should be soaked for 18 hours, then dehydrated at low temperature or an oven on low until dried.

                                                                                                              What I found to be particularly important is that commercial cereal makers and bakeies do not prepare grains properly, which makes it unwise to feed your children prepared cereals which will rob their small bodies of important minerals. Commercial bread can also be high in phytic acid. A small wheat roll from a bakery may severly inhibit zinc absorption.

                                                                                                              Some things which you may have thought were particularly nutritious, can actually contain excessive phytic acid, such as wheat bran, raw sunflower seeds, and nut butters. It seems our ancestors were well aware of the wisdom of properly preparing nuts, beans and grains for cooking -- an art we have lost.

                                                                                                              1. Here are some good resources. To learn about various legumes and a total of 100 foods, including nutritional value per x quantity, health benefits, description, history of consumption and cultivation (when cultivation is involved), selecting and storage tips, prepartion and cooking tips, recipe tips, plus health issues concerns, WHFoods.com is a very good resource that I regularly use. The editor provides the information that's needed to safely select, store, cook, and then store cooked foods, always leaning towards the safest recommendations. The same pages also provide some recipe tips, but there's also a separate page for recipes.

                                                                                                                To get the pages about each food, people just need to select the WHFoods List link on the left-hand-side of the home and many other pages. The link is in the Eating Healthy category of links and that's the first category of links on the LHS of the page.

                                                                                                                For knowing which dried beans are good and which should be discarded, using visual inspection before any soaking or pre-soaking, hence prior to cooking, I just came across a couple of very good and simple guidelines.

                                                                                                                http://www.ehow.com/how_8187630_beans...

                                                                                                                http://www.ehow.com/how_5809539_dried...

                                                                                                                Cooking beans:

                                                                                                                I use the quick method explained at WHFoods.com. First, make sure to remove rocks, any debris material, found among the dried beans; inspect to remove wrinkled and damaged beans, and I guess any that don't have a nice sheen on the skin; rinse and then put the rinsed beans in a pot of adequate size, add 3 cups water for every cup of beans, boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat and let sit for 2 hours. Then, dump that water, rinse the beans well, may as well also rinse the inside of the pot, put the beans back in the pot, again add 3 cups, minimally 2, of water, enough to have 1 to 2 inches of water above the beans, bring this to a boil and immediately lower to a simmer. WHFoods.com says that black, kidney, pinto, navy, ... beans, as well as Garbanzo beans, aka chickpeas, take 1 to 1.5 hours to be sufficiently cooked, while Lima (white) beans take about 45 minutes.

                                                                                                                I've used that guideline before and it worked out excellently, but you really want to watch the time. My Lima beans were a little overcooked, became too soft. They were still edible, but not as pleasant to eat, though if you're going to purée them, then I guess a [little] overcooking surely won't matter. So what I'll do this weekend (today) is to start checking the beans beginning around 10 minutes before the cooking times that WHFoods.com specifies, because of not liking my beans too soft. They need to be tender, but with a certain firmness.

                                                                                                                Today, I'm cooking Kidney, Pinto and Lima beans; was going to include Black beans, but can't find my jar of them, for some strange reason. The first time I cooked them, it was one variety at a time, but I want to save time, this time, so am going to try kidney and pinto together. If it works out, then it'll be a good time-saver. And if I could find my black beans, then I would've cooked them along with the kindey and pinto beans, as well, though am not sure if this would work out as well as I'd like. Although the three beans have similar cooking times, the black beans are smaller and maybe they'd be done before the kidney and pinto beans, which are of about equal size(s). But, I'd give this a try and if the black beans worked out well when cooked in the same pot as the kidney and pinto beans, then it would be a very good time-saver. Otherwise, I'd cook them in a separate pot, the next time I cook dried beans.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: mikecorbeil

                                                                                                                  I just started not soaking my beans - I can tell a difference as far gas goes so far....I like not soaking them becuase it gives the ham hock a longer time to infuse.

                                                                                                                  One question - don't mexican's often add epazote to degass their beans?

                                                                                                                  1. re: sparky403

                                                                                                                    That couldn't happen with my beans, for no meat is cooked with them. I cook them pure and lean. If I want meat with the beans, then the meat is separately cooked. This permits more versatile use of the beans and, I suppose anyway, simplifies the cooking process.

                                                                                                                    I can want beans with eggs and without meat, so the beans are already cooked, I cook the eggs, cook some potatoes, rice, whatever, or warm it up, if there's already some in the fridge, toast a couple pieces of bread, ..., and enjoy breakfast. Later in the day, I might only want beans, rice and, f.e., some cheese, without meat. This wouldn't be doable if the beans are cooked with meat.

                                                                                                                    There's nothing wrong with cooking them with meat. It's how my relatives always cooked baked beans, with some lard and ham. But I prefer the purer approach and it permits truly having full taste of the beans. If I wanted to make a ragout sort of dish and wanted meat in it, then the meat could be cooked along with the beans and other vegetables; but, I haven't yet done this. It would surely be very good. Yum yum. Yet, I'd prefer to cook up a mixed vegetable ragout and the meat separately. Afterwards, once it's all cooked and I'm ready to eat, I would combine the two.

                                                                                                                    I now gave myself another recipe idea; but, we want to be careful, for some vegetables cook faster and at lower temperatures than others, and it's better to avoid overcooking anything. A mostly vegetable ragout with some meat would be nice. I basically have that right now on the stove, but without meat in the ragout. The chicken is in a sauté pan, separate from the ragout of vegies. I pile up the vegetable ragout on my plate and then add some meat. It would be good either way, but I'm not a chef, not a cook scientist, so it's simpler to cook the meats separately, for me.

                                                                                                                    Chicken, Guineafowl, which I thought to be getting today, but didn't at Friends of the Earth's Marché de Solidarité, beef, veal, venison, lamb, ham, ..., or fish, along with a nutritional vegetable ragout (quite a mix, too), is good. I'm not a chef and just cook while trying to avoid over-cooking. But I prefer to not cook the meat and beans together. Beans along with other vegetables are fine, for then you can have a pure vegetarian or vegan meal, if you want that and I sometimes do. I don't eat meat 3 meals a day, so ..... I also use different spices for meats and fish, so this is another reason for cooking these separately. Another reason is that it's not easy to make a sandwich using a ragout.

                                                                                                                    Living alone, it's easy to cook much more than is required for a single meal. I have a full pot, large pot, on the stove right now; full of vegetable ragout, lima, pinto, kidney beans, green lentils, carrots, ruttabega, barley, green peppers, onion, garlic, and other spices; all vegetables and spices. This is going to last me over a week. In a sauté pan, I cooked half of a chicken yesterday and the breast remains to be consumed. The chicken was cooked with different spicies, rosemary and a few others, definitely including ground black pepper, onions, garlic and some ginger. The vegetable ragout has turmeric/curcuma, fenugrek, ginger powder, corriander, ground black pepper, red chili flakes, garlic, and onion for spices. We could add rosemary to that mix, but I don't. There'd be cumin in the vegetable ragout, and probably with the chicken, but I've run out of cumin and need to get more.

                                                                                                                    I read several years ago that people in India can consume meats mainly because they cook at low temperature for a long time and with over 20 different spices, but I wonder what they could all be. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I nevertheless imagine that some spices don't go well with some others, and this is one reason why I cook some things separately.

                                                                                                                    I'm not a chef. I'm a hacker cook, say.

                                                                                                                2. I soak Mayacoba (Peruano) beans overnight. Then I pour off the soak water, rinse, and add to boiling water. I cook one pound of beans in enough water to keep covered and one tbsp of salt. That's all. I add water if needed during the process. Simmer 90 minutes.

                                                                                                                  The main reason for soaking (for me) is money/environment. Less cooking equals smaller carbon footprint equals cheaper.

                                                                                                                  This produces about a weeks worth of delicious savory beans which can be used any number of ways. If soaking removes flavor, I haven't tasted the difference.

                                                                                                                  My favorite serving is simply the beans reheated (with maybe some added water to add to the broth) and garnished with a couple of shakes of ground chipotle peppers and a bit of grated cotija cheese. It could hardly be simpler. I've had guests say, "What is this recipe!?!?!"

                                                                                                                  1. i pulled this page up from Google - i'm about to cook up black beans and wanted to know how long to soak them. well, well, well I learned and will offer some of my ""un-tested yet"" ideas.

                                                                                                                    ferment is mentioned several times as a 'bad thing' .... as far as I have learned 'sprouted' is always better for the body. keep the wash water???...hmmmm - if I allow them to sprout - I gain - not lose the good stuff.

                                                                                                                    now throw all that into a crook-pot on 'high' - I don't know why people are worrying about the soak water when they plan to cook everything at high temp.

                                                                                                                    I'm about to try cooking beans - using my temp controlled crook-pot - if I recall - if I stay around 120 deg... all should be good

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: cook2live

                                                                                                                      Nope, all will be less than good. There's a reason that soaking beans and discarding the water has been a standard practice in traditional diets for millenia. It's good for you.

                                                                                                                      The soaking not only removes some of the indigestible sugars that cause gas in many people, it has much more important health benefits. It removes the bulk of the phytic acid and tryspin inhibitors present in the surface of the beans. These are the components that inhibit your body's ability to absorb a bunch of different vitamins and minerals and protein. Yep, that's right, the more bean water you consume, the more you reduce your body's ability to absorb protein from all of the food you eat.

                                                                                                                      Interestingly the soaking and slow cooking method works great on pretty much all beans with one notable exception: soybeans. Soybeans have hugely higher quantities of phytic acid and tryspin inhibitors than any other bean and they are not reduced by soaking or even by cooking for many, many hours. The only way that's been discovered to reduce these components in soy is by fermenting them for at least 6 months. This is good to keep in mind and applies fully to soy protein products, soy oil and even, to a slightly lesser extent, tofu and edamame.

                                                                                                                      1. re: pdxsk8nfool

                                                                                                                        The concept of phytic acid robbing the body of minerals is a myth. See http://www.drcarney.com/topics/item/2...

                                                                                                                        1. re: Ninafel

                                                                                                                          It's not a myth,some people simply overstate or understate the issue. Even the article you linked clearly states:

                                                                                                                          "phytic acid binds a small percentage of minerals in our diets"

                                                                                                                          Therefore it is only wise to follow traditional cooking methods and keep your phytic acid intake at low levels. I can't count how many time in just my life that traditional food preparation methods hundreds or thousands of years old were discovered to have scientific merit.

                                                                                                                          Regardless, the soaking portion of the cooking process also leeches out trypsin inhibitors (except in soy) which is a substance that prevents your digestion from absorbing protein efficiently.