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Why don't dry beans come out like canned beans

Please help a novice cooker here. I've followed the soak the beans overnight, cook them, leave in for an hour but the beans are not as soft as canned beans? What the heck am i doing wrong? Do different beans need different cooking times ie white bean versus a chick pea?

Any suggestions would be great!

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  1. Yes, different batches of beans need different cooking times.

    Just keep cooking them. An hour is not very long.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jaykayen

      Agree that an hour is not very long for cooking beans, but also keep in mind that canned food has a lot less texture than freshly cooked.

    2. Also, if your dried beans are quite old, they may not soften up because the pore through which they absorb moisture can close up. Try to get fresh dried beans, if possible.

      7 Replies
      1. re: weezycom

        Agreed about using old beans. Also, did you salt the water? Supposedly some types of beans are only to be salted at the end of cooking because if you salt in the beginning they will never get soft. Even with large kidney beans and chickpeas, with an overnight soak they never take me over an hour. Once you get the hang of it, rehydrated homecooked beans are far more delicious than canned beans, so I hope you perservere in perfecting your method.

        1. re: luckyfatima

          A flavoring amount of salt is not a problem for cooking beans, myths to the contrary notwithstanding. Acids are a problem (a pinch of baking soda is an old trick, but also tricky, because you don't want to keep the cooking liquid), as are old beans, and bean varieties that have tough skins.

          1. re: luckyfatima

            no i didnt salt the water.... does that soften the bean?

            well...i thought home cooking the beans would be better but ive tried it 4 times and it doesnt get better hahah

            1. re: chewy_bakah

              Salt flavors the bean. There's a longstanding myth that salting the water in which you cook beans toughens the skin; it's incorrect. That is true of acids, but not a modest amount of salt used to flavor beans.

              1. re: Karl S

                There has been some investigative work done lately that affirms that salting the soaking water actually helps the beans to soften more easily, cook to tenderness without "blowing" apart, and you wind up getting better flavor while using less salt overall. Complete reversal from what "authorities" have been telling us for years.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  ok well i ll try salting the soaking water then ... im determined to figure this out as i dont want to buy the canned beans even though i like the softer texture.

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    Not really a complete reversal, since the traditional advice is not to salt the cooking water but doesn't mention the soaking water. The brining method laid out in CI calls for draining off the saltwater brine and cooking in unsalted water. I'm a happy convert to this technique,

          2. Canned beans are really cooked in the cans... saw this on one of those "Modern Marvels" or "How it's Made" type shows. You'll never recreate the heat and pressure of industrial canning in your kitchen. But properly soaked and cooked dried beans are often much better than canned, especially in soups. (I admit thought that I always use canned for chili).

            Are you putting any seasoning/salt/etc in the soaking or cooking water? This can affect the rate at which the beans cook as well.

            7 Replies
            1. re: iluvcookies

              i was reading the sodium content on cans.. and thought i could avoid the salt if i cooked the beans myself... are you saying the beans won't become soft without salt ?

              1. re: chewy_bakah

                There is a school of thought that you should never salt beans until they are cooked, because they will stay tough. Others don't buy it.... Its hard to say beans will be done in x number of minutes. I try to cook earlier than I need them for a recipe. After 45 min I'll try a bean every 10 or 15 min. When they taste done I turn off the heat. They are pretty forgeving, but I haven't found a way to hurry them.

              2. re: iluvcookies

                Well, you probably could with a pressure cooker ...

                I agree with what everyone's saying ... there are no absolutes on time for cooking beans. You keep cooking till they're done. On rare occasions, you might find something in your cabinet that can no longer be cooked to tenderness because they're too old.

                Have all 4 of your attempts been from the same batch of beans?

                We have a thread about brining beans (soaking with salt, then discarding that water), and that seems to work well. It gives the beans a better texture.

                1. re: foiegras

                  I agree,pressure cooker is the way to go for cooking beans.
                  They cook much faster and are softer(can get mushy if over cooked),also adding salt doesnt matter too much.
                  I have been cooking beans and lentils all my life,and its usually faster in a pressure cooker.Plus my mom's rule was to add salt only after the cooking was done,but I add salt before and that is fine.

                  1. re: foiegras

                    well i try a batch of chickpeas, then i try mixed beans.. white and red kidney beans. i figure they're all beans they should cook at the same rate.

                    1. re: chewy_bakah

                      They don't. DIfferent varieties have different soaking and cooking times. Plus, if you have a mix of fresher and older beans in the pot (even of the same variety) the fresh ones will be mush by the time the older ones are done.

                  2. re: iluvcookies

                    Iluv is right. They're cooked and then cooked again in the can. A while! (it's the law!) Consider it like a pressure cooker - which cooks beans quicker. If you want them soft, bake 'em for a while.

                    Also, are you in altitude? I've cooked a few miles up and good god - the beans take forever! I ask a chef about that and he just laughed "yeah, they take forever up here" - I mean I cooked them slowly overnight - and they still need cooking. But at sea level? Soak 'em overnight and a few hours should be about right. But if want 'em as soft as canned (which I don't like) then a few hours more. Maybe more.

                  3. As other posters have already said cooking times may vary for different batches or varieties of beans. Salting before hand really doesn't make a difference but adding any sort of acid does so no tomatoes or vinegar before the beans softens. You're on the right track just keep cooking the beans and test occasionally. You'll have fine beans in no time.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: KTinNYC

                      <Salting before hand really doesn't make a difference>
                      To clarify for the OP, KT, I think you mean that COOKING in salted water doesn't make a difference. SOAKING in salted water certainly does - less ripping of skins in cooking, and a bean that is flavorful throughout. OP is interested in consuming less salt than in canned beans. Me too - I sparingly salt the soaking water, then drain it off, and do the cooking in unsalted water. Beans do need a LITTLE salt - IMO the taste is better this way than when salt is added at the end of cooking. I have tried pressure-cooking beans, but it was hard to control. Since so much depends on the age and variety of the beans, I think it's better to cook them in an open pot, monitoring the progress. Especially if they are to be eaten by themselves. If they are going into a soup or stew, or baked beans, it won't make as big a difference if they are overcooked initially. Recently, instead of salting the soaking water, I added a glug of a salty teriyaki-type marinade (Mr. Yoshida's) to large lima beans (a.k.a. butter beans), which yielded nicely-flavored beans after boiling in plain water.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        ok i will try that one too.. i did try soaking the beans in vinegar... as i was trying ot make a bean salad to get them to soften up but they were pretty much the same.

                    2. You would see an immense difference if you could find "fresh" dried beans and (possibly) cooked them longer. Ex: Red kidneys cook approx 3+ hours over a very low boil/high simmer, Navies only 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

                      I never know when I'm in the mood for a pot of beans, therefore, I never do the overnight soak. They go straight into the pot and to the stovetop. I typically wait to salt until after they've begun to soften, thereby eliminating any doubt of the "early salt effect" - wives tale or otherwise and also, my "mama" said don't salt early.

                      For fresher beans, you might check with local (farmer's) markets or specialty grocers for bulk bin buying. There's also mail order, but given the cost of shipping, it could make for an expensive pot of beans!

                      Heirloom varieties: http://www.ranchogordo.com/html/v_bea...
                      General: http://www.camelliabrand.com/

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: CocoaNut

                        wow it's hard to determine how old the beans are .. theres no date on the package.

                        it's sounding more and more that i have to cook the beans for a very long time.

                        1. re: chewy_bakah

                          I grew up in a bean cooking family from the Gulf Coast of MS - we cooked all kinds of beans on a regular basis, so this was never a "learning" process for me. But my curiosity up, I began to wonder about sea level elevations and googled it. Found nothing about elevation, but surprisingly to me, the ph of the water that's used can have an effect - thus the comments about tomatoes and salt above. So if you have "hard" tap water, you may want to buy some expensive bottled water to cook your cheap beans! :) Pressure cooking beans is also another option.

                          http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science...

                          Scroll down mid-way, below the inset picture, and read what they have to say about water ph.

                          The paragraph above the picture talks about water absorption through the pore (helium).

                          1. re: chewy_bakah

                            Chewy, it sounds like you just didn't cook them long enough. Old beans sometimes may never soften completely. Sometimes one finds a few firm beans in the pot of well cooked beans. I pick through a bag of beans not only to remove any stones but to remove any old wrinkled beans or broken beans that just don't look good. I have always been in the non soak camp and cook on the stove top. Usually it takes 2-3 hours depending. You have to stir occasionally and that's a good time to give a taste test to gauge the doneness. If you really don't want to fuss with them then the oven is a great alternative. No stirring needed. You will need to check every once in a while for doneness but the more you do the better sense of time you'll have with a particular bean.

                            I have started to use a pressure cooker and have even begun to soak. After being an anti-soaker for many years I can say that with soaking the beans have a better texture. I tend to not over cook them and in the pressure cooker soaked beans are cooked for only 8-10 min before a natural cool down. I can also gauge the amount of water better after they've been soak. They don't take up much more water when cooking. When making Cuban black beans I don't want it watery and will puree a cup full of beans to thicken the dish. I was having trouble when using the pressure cooker with how much water to add. Unlike a pot on the stove you can't just look at it and say it needs a little more. Anyway keep at it. Beans are great and good for you. If you are using beans off the grocery store shelf there may always be freshness issue but most of the time they will cook fine. If you really want to best check out ranchogordo linked above.

                            1. re: scubadoo97

                              Question. When was the last time you found stones in your beans? In over 20 years of cooking dried beans, I've never found a single one.

                              1. re: Karl S

                                As I've gone through the process, I always wondered why I sorted through the beans, but did it anyway. Then one day, I found a small stone in some blackeyed peas. Made a believer out of me.

                                1. re: CocoaNut

                                  Same here, I have found stones on several occasions. I think it depended a bit on which company the beans came from though.

                                2. re: Karl S

                                  Depends on the bean. Just pull one out of bag of black beans. Lentils, more often. Not a significant amount but one here or there. They are dirt or clay clumps not really stones. I would imagine they would break down during cooking so you wouldn't know there were there if you didn't find them before hand. More often I am pulling out beans that look past their prime when buying off the shelf beans.

                                  1. re: Karl S

                                    Found my first stone in some black beans last year and another last week.
                                    I"ve never (in four decades of cooking) found stones in some of the larger beans...yet.
                                    But I've only been cooking black beans for five years (because Jacques Pepin's recipe sounded right.

                                    1. re: shallots

                                      yep, i find stones in my black beans

                                    2. re: Karl S

                                      My first job over 60 years ago was at a mexican restaurant in the Farmer's Market in Los Angeles. It involved picking through pinto beans for stones.

                                      I still do that and I still find a stick or a stone in one out of five bags, regardless of type.

                                      1. re: Karl S

                                        I've found small stones (def. not dirt) in lentils, black beans, and I think once a small white bean (can't remember the variety). So, yes it's a pain, but I always sort them. Generally dump them on a sheet pan and shift them around in a single layer. When I can, I "enlist" an offspring to help with this!

                                        1. re: Karl S

                                          Found one in black beans today. I was thinking "this is dumb" when I found it...Not the first time either, but usually with pigeon peas. Now I have to continue the ritual....

                                        2. re: scubadoo97

                                          Wow! Really? Y'all just "rarely" find stones, dirt, etc?

                                          I can truthfully say that I've been cooking dried beans, (mainly red and pinto), my whole life and I almost always find a stone or a small dirt clod while picking through the beans. I also pick out any that are blemished or even just broken in half.

                                          My experience stretches over three decades and many different brands. It's just a reality of dried beans. <shrug>

                                        3. re: chewy_bakah

                                          Actually, all the various brands of dried supermarket legumes in my cupboard DO have use-by dates. But you need to look hard, with good lighting. It is usually on or near the seam at the top or bottom of the bag, and is lightly stamped - not apparent at all. What that says about when they were bagged, I do not know. I suppose one could ask the company, but even then, they may well have been picked many months before they were bagged.

                                      2. I'm with the other posters so far: find "fresh" dried beans. If you have a store that sells beans in bins, try these over the pre-bagged beans, as they tend to be fresher. Salting a bit won't do anything to toughen the beans, and in fact it's usually critical in order to get some flavor into the beans themselves. Also, one hour is not much time to cook dried/soaked beans.

                                        Here's a trick for very simple pinto beans: mince up some nice smoked slab bacon and render it slowly on low heat in the pot you will be using, getting it nice and crispy. Then add a quartered onion, some smashed garlic cloves, the dried/soaked beans, some salt, and then enough cold water to just cover the beans.

                                        Bring to a hard boil, then drop down to a low simmer and don't bring to a boil again. This can create toughness. Rather, simmer long and slow and have a pot of boiling water ready so that as the water evaporates, continue to add just enough boiling water to cover the beans. Keep doing this for almost two hours, stirring occasionally, until you get the right tenderness you're looking for. Then mash them with a potato masher. Great for Mexican food.

                                        1. Cook 'em a long, long time. A loooong time.

                                          Try this recipe:

                                          http://www.recipezaar.com/Durgin-Park...

                                          I soak the beans in two changes of clear cold water overnight. Always. I soak *all* beans this way, but must admit that I only cook navy beans, black-eyed peas, black beans and sometimes cranberry beans or a "bean soup" mixture. Soaking (and throwing out the soaking water) makes beans a bit more digestible for some people, too, solving the gas problem.

                                          Other than using the long-cooked "bean pot" recipe I link above, the only way you're going to get beans as soft as they are when they come out of the can is by cooking them a good long time. I make thick beans on the stove by cooking soaked and drained beans in seasoned, flavorful (preferably pork) broth with plenty of added onions, carrots and celery. A bay leaf is very nice.

                                          My local Italian store sometimes has trimmings for me from hunks of prosciutto. They, as well as cheese rinds, go into a stew of white beans, along with a little sage.

                                          Tomatoes add interest to beans but should only be added at the end of the beans' cooking. Balance the acid in tomatoes with a smidgen of sugar. This I recommend for beans but *not* for Italian tomato sauce. For a more savory stew of beans, use more onions and carrots, instead of cheating with sugar.

                                          I'm a huge fan of finishing almost any bean stew off with a good dose of nice, nutty sherry.

                                          chewy_bakah you may be a novice but if you're cookin' dried beans instead of popping open a can, you're off to a great start! I'd love to hear from you after you've tried some of the 'hounds' tricks.

                                          1. I'd like to know what folks do with the floating skin that comes off when cooking lima beans... I've been picking them out one by one -- am I supposed to leave them in the soup or stew or is there some way to cook them so they don't come off?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Sarah

                                              Again, try salting the soaking water. The study results I saw compared a bean cooked the traditional way, with no salt, and one cooked after salted soaking; the first was partially disintegrated with the skin coming loose, while the second was whole and unbroken although completely tender.

                                            2. As others have mentioned, the age of your beans and time cooking are most likely the culprits here. But, hard water can also be the problem- how's the ph of the water you're using? If you have hard water, increase both your soaking and cooking time, and add a pinch of baking soda to to your soaking water. Also, beware that hard boiling beans can toughen them by coagulating their protein, causing beans to split and making them harder to digest, so stick to lower heat and longer cooking times. If you are at a high altitude, this is yet another explanation, you'll have to double your cooking times.

                                              The first step for you is to get rid of the beans you've been using, as it sounds like they're over a year old if you don't remember when they were fresh, and use them as pie weights.

                                              Perfect beans for me always involve 12+ hours of soaking, medium heat and keeping the beans Covered during cooking, adding a strip of KOMBU and epazote during cooking.

                                              And I'll repeat what others have said: calcium, sugar, and acid tend to keep beans tough (this is why baked beans don't turn to mush), so add your citrus, wine, tomato, mustard, sweeteners, etc. when your beans are already as tender as you'd like them.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: gwendolynmarie

                                                cooking the beans for 12 hours? wow... so maybe i should be using a slow cooker? I dont have a pressure cooker. I don't think I want a pot on the stove for so long.

                                                I'll have to try the baking soda..

                                                Thanks everyone!! :D

                                                1. re: chewy_bakah

                                                  I don't think GweldolynMarie meant that the beans COOK for 12+ hours, but that they SOAK for that long. Just guessing...

                                                  I'm thinking I'd read something against using baking soda -- perhaps for it's effect on the nutrition of the beans....don't recall exactly.

                                                  1. re: eamcd

                                                    I know that an acid medium (ie: 1 T lemon juice or some other acidic ingredient) de-gases your beans making them easily digestible, but only when soaked for 12 to 24 hrs.

                                                    1. re: eamcd

                                                      Sorry, I mean 1 T. per cup. Read about it here: http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2...
                                                      Scroll through the whole grain section to see the directions for beans.

                                                      ~DD

                                                      1. re: DishDelish

                                                        Does anyone have scientific sources on the benefits of soaking grains? The only thing I found was this study on chickens: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/93... found that soaking the grains caused more weight gain per amount of food (not necessarily a benefit for those of us not being raised for slaughter).

                                                2. As to the quality of freshness, Camellia beans are packaged, but are date stamped. There may be other growers/distributors that date stamp their beans to *help* insure the buyer is getting a top quality product.

                                                  There is no disputing fresh beans not only cook more consistently, they also release their starch naturally which produces a wonderful creamy gravy without the need to mash any beans.

                                                  *Typical* grocery store beans are an unknown entity when it comes to their age, as you noted. That doesn't mean they're unworthy - you just may need to make adjustments in a fashion that others have noted.

                                                  1. I agree with the others that more time is the whats required. I've lived, camped and cooked all over the west and just purchase beans from the grocery so have no idea how old they are. I've soaked, quick soaked and not soaked at all in all types of liquid and all the beans I've cooked have eventually gotten to where they need to be. The easiest way I have found is to cook them on low in the crock pot/slow cooker. Put them in in the morning and they are always perfect by lunch and are happy to cook until dinner.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: just_M

                                                      The best advice for those who aren't sure if their grocery store has a high turnover in the bean aisle would be to look for the ethnic store that sells the kind of beans you need. For me, the Mexican market is going to turn over pinto beans, black beans and virtually all beans at a much higher rate than even my local grocery and I know from experience (really how can the shelves be out of beans entirely!) that my local grocery is selling beans at a record rate. If you are lucky enough to have a Indian or pan-asian market that would be our go to spot for lentils, garbanzo and many many other bean varieties. But I have not found that the bulk bins in our area are a great place to get beans from as there isn't any sell by day or even a guestimate about how old those beans in the bins actually are. Sure you can buy online but...unless you buy bulk it's hard to justify the price and shipping. And then you will still run into freshness issues...getting that 50lbs of beans used up before they get too old. Of course, we ought to be eating 50 lbs worth of bean based meals and we'd be a lot slimmer and healthier but..dang, that's a lot of beans.

                                                      1. re: aggiecat

                                                        Thanks, aggicat. Currently I live about 1 1/2 hours from the nearest cultural market and about 45 min from the nearest bulk bin :-] I have thought about purchasing bulk online especially with the bean shortage (can't find garbanzos and large lima), but as you say 50lb just seems like a huge amount to use up.

                                                        1. re: just_M

                                                          You can get normal quantities online too, of course ... I've ordered heirloom varieties before. Beans are such a bargain anyway that (especially for better quality) I think the shipping is worth it.

                                                          I've been brining my beans thanks to advice here on CH ... the first time I tried to measure per instructions, and the results were OK. The second time I just whooshed the salt in from the box, and the results were great. It seems to prevent the beans from puffing up so much, which is why the texture is better, and the skins so much less likely to burst. It's actually kind of amazing what a difference it makes.

                                                          1. re: foiegras

                                                            Rancho Gordo beans are not sold more than 2 years out and shipping is per order not per item or pound, so in addition to the amazing taste of them ( i especially like Christmas limas) they are a bargain.
                                                            A slow cooker is another great method for cooking as it keeps a very even temp.

                                                            1. re: magiesmom

                                                              Palates differ - I bought 5 or 6 varieties of Rancho Gordo in 2008 and would not do so again. They were fine, but I do not find enough taste difference from one to another to justify $5-lb plus shipping, when I can get them in the supermarket for a quarter of the cost.

                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                greygarious: I think that it depends on how much of a bean turnover your market has. Some places probably have fewer customers who buy beans and therefore have beans that have sat in the bin or on the shelf for a verrrrry long time.

                                                                I partially agree about Rancho Gordo. I've gotten beans from them that did not justify the price, but others have been wonderful.

                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                  Words cannot express the delight I feel in seeing the word "palate" spelled correctly.

                                                      2. i've soaked a particularly old batch kidney beans for more than a week and an hour of basic cooking was not enough to soften them. for the next batch, i brought out the heavy guns and zapped the sucker in a pressure cooker - those babies came out smooth as a nivea model's tushy.

                                                        1. http://www.recipezaar.com/Basic-Dried...

                                                          This is probably the best info on the subject. One issue that isn't mentioned is the use of baking soda as mentioned by karl s. I have found that 1 lb beans in ten cups water needs 2 tsps soda. As he mentions, the soaking water must be tossed but it will almost guarantee tenderness, even in older beans.

                                                          1. Why on earth would you want them to? Fresh/dried-cooked beans are firmer, have a little "tooth" and much more flavor. Also, the canned ones tend to be really salty, and you can control that if you cook them yourself. Some are remarkably different when cooked from scratch--like chickpeas. You won't believe how tasty they are, totally different from the mealy, slightly bitter canned ones.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: leahbird

                                                              I know of no canned beans that are particularly salty, and most brands are if anything firmer than the ones I cook. I use them most commonly to make the bean salad Mrs. O likes to take for her workday lunches, simply drained and rinsed, then combined with fine-chopped celery, fresh or dried herbs, salt and pepper, and an acid-heavy vinaigrette. My home-cooked beans are seldom firm enough to be tossed as this must be. That's why I'm happy about this thread; it has served not only to make me think about the shortcomings in my own bean cookery, but has gotten me to go look for new information instead of spouting the same mistaken old rules.

                                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                                Since doing the soak bit and then a short stint in the pressure cooker I've got my beans to be firmer yet cooked through. But I just made some hummus with canned chickpeas and it blended up beautifully and tasted quite good. I also don't find canned beans salty at all. I do rinse them before use. I still keep canned beans in the pantry as they are a quick staple to have on hand. I cook my own mostly to saves $

                                                            2. For what it is worth, Eden Organic beans aren't salted and resultingly have only 40mg sodium per half cup (all veggies have salt--it is necessary to stay hydrated for plants and animals alike); Westbrae only have 140mg per half cup (that is if you don't rinse--you can get even lower by rinsing). Compare that to 1/4teaspoon salt having 580mg and it takes a lot of control or that same 1/4tsp in a HUGE batch of beans to equal... Honestly, I have found that it is only sometimes worth it when cooking HUGE batches--the added electricity from cooking so long,frustration in cooking and soaking time, effort, and in the summer the heat in the house all make it usually -not- worth the totally unreliable (in my experience) dry bean experience... Now fresh from the farm... That I will go for; otherwise, those organic canned kinds are my answer to 90% of bean problems. They do it better than me!

                                                              1. wow thks for ideas

                                                                i have tried different batches of beans. i m thinking ill use the dried in stews and chillis but im going to stick to can for dips.... boy i did not think beans would so difficult lol

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: chewy_bakah

                                                                  Have you tried your slow cooker? I see a few suggested that and you have one yourself? That's how I cook mine and I've never failed with any beans. You do need a little planning ahead though. I've inherited one of those thermal slow cooker (ie a slow cooker that works like a thermos), but I assume you can just use a normal slow cooker on high? I usually soak the beans overnight in the inside pot. Then bring it to a vigorous boil in the morning before work. When I get back from work, it'd be always soft, but not mushy. Really similar to canned beans, and really not that much effort.

                                                                  1. re: lilham

                                                                    well after giving up on beans for while... I decided to try again. There's bean salad called Tuscan Bean Salad made by Duso's that comes from Costco thats really good. it has the kidney, chick peas, pinto and white navy beans.

                                                                    I soaked those beans 5 days changing the water each day. They looked rehydrated finally and now they've been cooking in the slow cooker. It's been a day. I had it on highh for 5 hrs and low. They still seem hard. Don't suppose anyone's got a good bean salad receipe

                                                                    1. re: chewy_bakah

                                                                      chewy_bakah are you lifting the lid of your slow cooker? I do not soak most beans for the slow cooker w/the exception of chickpeas. Most beans I toss in (after picking over and rinsing) and cook on low about 8 hrs. Herbs/spices/ham bone/bacon fat are added at the beginning, salt is added in the last hour or two after I've checked that the beans are almost there (after 6-8hrs depending on size). Chickpeas I've had more of a challenge with but really they just need me to leave them alone to cook. The last time I soaked them for 12hrs then cooked them on low checked them at 8 and 10 hours I finally added salt at 12 hours and cooked for another hour then let them cool w/the lid on. After each check I will increase the heat to high for about 15 min to get the heat back up . For most beans though I could turn them on in the morning, salt them when I came home and they would be perfect when the corn bread is done. But if your like my friend Deb I say "close the oven door" or in this case let the beans cook (if thats whats happening) the slow cooker takes quite a while to come up or back up to temp.

                                                                      1. re: just_M

                                                                        i guess i did after every 4 hours. I checked different beans. Some of the them seemed ok but the red kidney ones were crunchy. the beans all looked murky brown and smelt terrible. I picked out the white kidney beans and threw the rest out.

                                                                        1. re: chewy_bakah

                                                                          kidney beans are also one of the longer cooking beans I've found. I also haven't tried to mix beans after the 15 bean soup disaster. I know there are a lot of people who enjoy that soup but to me it was vile texturally. So I cook one type of bean at a time and they freeze well. Hope your next go is more to your liking. Oh and they really do require quite a bit of salt to be anything like from the can. :-)

                                                                      2. re: chewy_bakah

                                                                        I read on more than one of these bean threads that soaking too long makes beans tough, though that sounds counterintuitive. I generally soak from 6-12 hours but sometimes as long as 2 days. I cook various types of beans and don't have problems with toughness. I wonder if your water is either too hard or too soft. An experiment would be to use spring water (better yet, distilled) and your tap water to soak equal measures of beans from the SAME bag for the same amount of time, then cook them. Ideally, side-by-side in the same size pots.

                                                                        As for bean salad, when I first began making it, I used sliced onion, a packet of Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix, and canned beans, with the bean liquid instead of water. I used a lot less oil than the packet directions call for. Now, though I prefer cooking beans to buying canned, bean salad is one time where I use some, or all, canned. That's because I like the way the thick can liquid forms a dressing. I use a slotted spoon to serve the bean salad, and the dregs as dressing for tossed salads. Nowadays I generally don't use the packet - instead, garlic powder and whatever dried herbs strike my fancy, salting and sweetening to taste. White vinegar.

                                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                                          i tried one day before. I have a whole of beans left. Should have figured out if I could cook beans before i bought all these bean bags lol

                                                                  2. An Hour? That is not long enough to cook most beans till they are soft.
                                                                    Even with soaked beans i would count on 2 hours 3 with unsoaked beans.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: chefj

                                                                      The kidney beans I cooked up for pasta e fagiole a couple weeks ago only took an hour to cook. That was after a 10 minute boil and hour long soak instead of soaking overnight. Maybe that made a difference.

                                                                      They were actually a little over cooked.