Sorting & Quick-soaking beans - novice question
So, for the first time in my life, I am using dried beans! I've got a bag of small red beans which I picked over, and noticed many looked wrinkled. I tossed all the ones that were clearly yucky as I sorted. I'm now doing a quick-soak method I read about, where I boiled the beans for a minute in plenty of water, and then I leave them to sit for an hour. They're doing this soak as I write.
Here's my question. As they came to the boil, about half the beans floated to the top and looked wrinkly. Are all these floaters bad??? That's my suspicion, and if so, I'm really annoyed that I've got less than half a bag of usable beans (and it also makes me wonder if the whole lot should just be tossed).
Dried beans are sometimes stored for years before they make it to market; evidence that they hold up for a very long time. When you introduce dried beans to liquid (e.g. water) they are initially limited to absorbing the liquid through that little spot that you see on the back side of the bean. That makes initial hydration quite slow. Some beans in your pot will hydrate faster than others and those will float more quickly. After they've been in the water a while the starches in the core will loosen up and some additional water will pass through the weakened outer shell to accelerate their rate of hydration - if only moderately.
No. They're not bad. They just have lower hydration temporarily.
I'm betting that by now they've begun to swell so that the wrinkly appearance is gone and they're already sinking to the bottom.
As soon as your water comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer. Cook your beans gently at all stages and they'll retain their skins and the halves will stay intact.
You should drain the soaked beans and cook them in fresh water, especially if you are concerned with limiting flatulence.
Directions to pick over the dry beans are meant for removing pebbles or other non-bean bits - which in my experience are infrequent. You don't need to remove wrinkled ones. Not a bad idea to give them a quick rinse before soaking, as they can still have dust from the fields on them.
I've become a big fan of the Cooks Illustrated method of brining the dry beans in cold salted water instead of the plain-water soak, then draining and cooking in unsalted water. More flavor inside the bean, and less splitting of skins. There's a thread about brining beans on this board.
I second Cooks Illustrated's method. Been using it for years. And I highly recommend you subscribing if you don't already. There's no better test kitchen on the planet, with food geeks willing to try beans or meatloaf or pork shoulder 30 different ways to find the best method.