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Brining beans? Yes!

ATK recently suggested that when you soak your dried beans, add salt. This goes against most wisdom re: beans, but it worked!! 1 lb. dried beans, 3 tbsp. table salt (or 6 tbsp. kosher) 4 qts water. soak 8 or up to 24 hrs, drain and rinse beans to get all salt off. Then cook as usual depending on type of bean till tender in unsalted water. They came out perfectly for baked beans (even tho their recipe was for tuscan bean soup...). Very tender and creamy and few "exploded" beans. Sometimes, the Bow-Tie team is spot on. Salt Rules!! adam

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  1. Just did this method for white beans today. Perfect! The cook time was about 40 minutes and the beans were absolutely creamy and remained whole. They did have a slightly salty flavor so I reduced the amount in the dish I made.

    8 Replies
    1. re: alwayscooking

      How long did you soak them? I tend to put the soaking beans in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and am reluctant to leave them in that concentrated a salt solution for that long, especially since I use a very light hand when it comes to salt. My instinct would be to use a solution that tastes like sea-water but that might not be strong enough.

      1. re: greygarious

        gg: why do you put your beans in the fridge to soak? I've never run across that method. If you think about it, 3 tbsp salt to 4 quarts of water is NOT that concentrated of a solution. I soaked mine for 12-16 hours, and they were perfect- creamy, tender and not starchy or grainy. If your solution tastes like sea-water, it might be too strong for the bean-brine; that's better for pasta cooking water or meat brining. adam

        1. re: adamshoe

          adam, I stick the bowl in the fridge in case I don't get around to cooking the beans when I'd intended. I don't know how long they'd have to sit at room temp before fermentation or other spoilage gets started, so the fridge is playing it safe (stupid, really, since I routinely use raw eggs in carbonara, let cooked food cool to room temp before chilling, don't hesitate to cut away moldy areas of bread or cheese and eat the rest, etc., and never have trouble).

          1. re: greygarious

            grey - many many times I've not gotten around to cooking them when I thought I was - just drain the beans and chill or freeze them - works great

            1. re: greygarious

              I don't think fermented (within reason) beans will hurt you, but how do you get past the smell to be able to cook and eat them? It's a really disgusting smell.

              1. re: MikeG

                As I said in my post, I refrigerate the soaking beans so they DON'T ferment, so I have never experienced that smell.

          2. re: greygarious

            I put about 2c in a dish, threw a bunch of salt in (Mediterranean sea strength), and let it sit for 36 hours - it was supposed to be for dinner but ended up for lunch the next day. There were some bubbles on the top but all smelled fine and in the pot they went. They were amazingly fast cooking and the final product was not salty.

            1. re: greygarious

              If you don't have seawater handy to make this comparison, the average salinity of the ocean is 35ppt (or 35g of salt for every liter of water).

          3. So glad you tried it Adam! I have wanted to since I saw that show, but haven't yet. I am the only bean eater in the house, so I don'/t make them frequently. I think the real key is to really rinse them well. Good job!

            Dani

            1. I wonder if brining would work when using the quick hydrating method -- bring water to a boil, put the dry beans in, when it returns to a boil, continue to boil for 2 minutes, turn the heat off, cover the pot and let sit for an hour (these directions usually on the bag of beans). That's the way I hydrate beans--saves messing with them overnight. I'll have to try putting salt in the the hydrating water. Hmmmmm.

              1. I've been using a teaspoon of baking soda thrown into the pot just before cooking. Very creamy beans!

                1 Reply
                1. re: dbarnard

                  Baking soda destroys the B vitamins in beans.

                2. I like this idea will try next time. Dry beans are so much more economical than canned beans. The price has jumped even on the dry ones. Can you tell me how to can my own beans? I have planted a garden and will have plenty of beans. Most will be dried but would like to know if canning them is an option.