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Soaking Dried Beans

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I bought some beautiful dried cranberry beans at the farmers market. The farmer told me about a method of soaking/simmering that was shorter than the over night method, and resulted in more tender beans. It seemed to be a little more trouble by simmering and replacing the water, but could be done same day.

Alas, my memory fails me on the details. Does anyone know about this method?

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  1. Have you ever tried not soaking them at all? They cook somewhat longer, but unless you're in a time crunch it's not that much longer.

    3 Replies
    1. re: EWSflash

      I don'[t soak either--relying on my "friends" Mark Bittman and Rick Bayless. They do not take any longer to cook than I expect. I never have the patience to start a recipe the day before.

      1. re: EWSflash

        I want to make a bean salad; but all I have on hand are dried beans and I only have about 2 hours to get them cooked! Is 2 hours enough time to cook them properly?

        1. re: g.stallworth

          It might be just enough time - depends very much on the type and age of the beans. Don't salt them until they are finished. Cooking them without a pre-soak will likely make more of the skins split than had you soaked them. I understand that a pressure cooker shortens the cooking time, Possibly simmering them in a microwave would speed cooking - certainly it wouldn't take any longer than stovetop.

      2. Bluedog: The quick soak method I think you might be talking about is this. Put beans in a pot and cover by several inches with water. Bring to boil. Turn off heat, cover, let sit for 2 hours. Drain. Cover with fresh water and cook until soft. Drain again. Use in your recipe. I never use the soaking or cooking water in any recipe, soup especially, because I think it contains the complex sugars that are difficult to digest. By using fresh water or stock you still get the protein but not the gassy problem.

        That said, here is the method I've been using lately after finding it on Chowhound a few months ago. It's an overnight soak, but it totally cuts down the cooking time to 25-35-40 minutes. It has something to do with changing the pH of the water as the beans soak. All I know is that it works. I've tried it with black beans and chick peas, so far. Love this method.

        "This soaking method from Nigella Lawson (who got it from Anna del Conte) works like a miracle for me: Put the dried chickpeas in a bowl, cover with water. In a small bowl or glass, mix one teaspoon of baking soda with a tablespoon of flour and a tablespoon of salt. Add enough water to make a thin paste, add to the beans. Cover and let soak overnight, or up to 24 or even 36 hours in the fridge.

        When you're ready, drain and rinse the peas. Put them in a pot with water to cover, and bring to a boil. They should be very tender after simmering for about half an hour.

        Kagey Jan 04, 2007 01:35PM"

        1. It's been proven a number of times in side by side comparisons that overnight soaked beans do no cook faster or give the eater less gas than just putting dried beans in sufficient water and boiling away - about 2 hours for a pound of dried beans.

          3 Replies
          1. re: KiltedCook

            The quick soak instructions on a bag of kidney beans in my cupboard are to cover with an inch of water and bring to a boil, then take off the heat and let soak for an hour. Change water and cook for an hour - in other words, the same total time as cooking them unsoaked. I've also seen TV chefs claim that after the quick soak they continue cooking without changing the water. And some people claim that using baking soda leaves an unpleasant residual taste in the beans. I've never tried it. I tend not to soak if I'm using them in soup. The important part, agreed on by everyone, is not to add acids like vinegar or tomato until after the beans are cooked, as they won't soften in acid.

            1. re: KiltedCook

              Pre-soaked beans take much less time in a pressure cooker.

              1. re: lgss

                Yes, but unsoaked beans take only about 30 minutes.

                Jim

            2. We always soak our beans overnight - seems to take some of the gas out of them. We soak several pounds and then freeze them in portions. Easy.

              1 Reply
              1. re: bayoucook

                Thanks everyone. I am going to try the boil-soak-boil method, this is what the farmer suggested. I appreciate the feedback, so I may try a different method next time and compare. Never heard the baking soada method, I may research that a bit.

              2. It also depends how old the beans are- sounds like yours are straight from the farm, so soaking wouldn't be as important. I always soak when working with bagged or bulk bin beans, because who knows how old they are.

                1. I have always done the overnight soak when I make beans. Not lentils, or split peas, I mean navy beans, black, red/kidney, lima etc. I prefer my beans slow cooked and in a crockpot where there is not a chance in heck, they'll get scorched, I've only done that once and learned not to trust a light weight pot.

                  So I've always proceeded with the overnight soak, and I use the crockpot cooking the beans all day. By around 5 or 6 they're perfect. I got into this habit because of a long commute and having children. I wanted to be able to have dinner after homework, and that was always around 7:30pm. I know, late. Anyway this worked for me.

                  Well the kids are grown and so I decided to make lima beans last weekend. I soaked them for about 4 hours. Then went about business as usual setting them on the highest temp on the crockpot (it actually boils) and hoped for the best. Well long story short this has been the worst experience I've ever had. I have heard other people say they soaked the beans and they didn't soften etc. I honestly, haveno clue what happened. Some beans were soft, making me think it was the ones closes to the bottom, and then others were disgustingly hard. By the time all the beans softened, it was like a big pot of glue.
                  Perhaps I'm off my game, but beans are sort of my thing, so I'm having trouble with this answer.

                  I say soak them overnight, and cook them slow. I never have a problem when I do it that way. All it takes is a little planning on the cooks part, meaning, knowing what and when to drop in your vegetables, spices and herbs.

                  Either way, I am very interested in finding out your results!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    I make my mother's lima bean soup, with a lamb shank and a bag of unsoaked dried limas going into the pot together, covered with ample water, and simmered with.herbs and vegetables until the meat falls off the bone and the beans are tender. Some split, which helps thicken the soup as it cools. It takes 2-1/2 to 3 hours on the stove and the beans have never been a problem.