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Tough Beans...what did I do wrong and can it be fixed?

Yesterday I made a batch of black beans. I used 1 lb of beans (form Rancho Gordo) and had soaked them over the previous night. I then sauteed a couple of onions, added some garlic and a diced hot pepper, some cumin and chili powder and the beans. I added a bottle of beer and 2 cups of waters and let it cook. (All but the diced hot pepper was from printed recipe)

After 2 hours, the beans were still quite toothy, so I transferred them to a crockpot and let them go on low for the rest of the day.

12 hours later? Still quite toothy.

what did I do wrong? The only thing I can think is that maybe my chili powder had salt in it (It was bought in bulk, so I don't have the label). Or, are fresh peppers acidic? Should I not have included that at the beginning?

And, is there anything I can do to salvage them? The flavor is very nice...

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  1. When I make baked beans, the (simplified) process is to soak the beans over night, drain and add water to cover by an inch, bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes (until tender), drain again saving water, add seasoning ingredients, add reserved water to cover and then simmer until done (6-8 hours).

    The last time I made baked beans, I forgot to cook them in water before seasoning. When I posted this to the board, I was told they would still cook, but it would take longer. It took about 2 or 3 hours longer than normal, but they were very good.

    I don't know if black beans cook the same as navy beans, but it might just be that you have to give them a little more time.

    1. Adding salt while cooking does not toughen beans. I'm not sure why your beans never soften but I would contact Rancho Gordo. That's the beauty of dealing with a person instead of a corporation.

      2 Replies
      1. re: KTinNYC

        thanks for recommending that I contact Rancho Gordo. I did, and got a personal reply very quickly.
        Seems I might have just had "bad luck" since everything else should have been ok...maybe should have soaked them for less time, maybe it's the beer, but many cook beans with beer to no ill effect.
        He's sending me a replacement bag and wants an update as to how the next batch goes.
        Hooray for small companies selling products with pride!

        1. re: Budino

          That is awesome and I hope others read this post and support small businesses.

      2. It's the beer. Beer is quite acidic and acid toughens beans.

        1. The beans may simply have been old. Old beans never soften no matter how long you soak and cook them.

          1. It has been my experience that all of the things you added did not affect your beans. The big culprit is your water. I live in a town with hard water and never cook beans without buying a bottle of distilled water. I soak the beans over night in tap water and then pour that off and put the distilled water over the beans, add salt, and your other items for flavor. Hope this helps

            1 Reply
            1. re: justcallmedee

              Thanks for the suggestion-- I'll definitely look into that, but I've had no problems with chick peas, or white beans in the past.

            2. When beans don't come around, even after the best handling, and from a good source, I pressure cook them. In 30 minutes they are done.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jayt90

                I've heard those are great for beans. Is there a brand you recommend, or are they really all the same?

                1. re: Budino

                  Fagor Duo gives the most bang for the buck, and it is safe.

                  I also have a Lagostina, really a nice design, but doesn't produce as much steam pressure as Fagor

                  For beans you need a full 15 pounds/sq. inch pressure.