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Sep 30, 2011 02:42 PM

Dried beans -- split and broken after cooking!

I soaked a pound of dried kidney beans last night and cooked them today. Before I even cooked them, I noticed some were split, which I hadn't noticed when I sorted them.

I cooked them in the slow cooker because I didn't want them to overcook or boil up.

I checked them several times and they were quite firm for a long time. But by the time they were cooked (and still aren't mushy), many of them are split and/or just broken. Is it just the beans I had (maybe too old)?

I intended them for chili (yes -- I know many people abhor beans in chili....). Not sure I should still use them in that or come up with something else.

Any ideas of why this happened and how to avoid it next time? Also, any suggestions for something to do with them even in their fractured state?

Thanks for any suggestions!

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  1. I'd use them in your recipe anyway -- the broken ones will break down and create a thick, creamy paste as a base for your chili. Good stuff.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sunshine842

      Thanks, I'll try it. But MOST of them are broken. I may do a mix of some of the split beans and add canned beans. I'm afraid if I use all of these beans, it will be too much mushy. But I'll balance it. I'll let you know how it turns out.

      If anyone else has ideas on how to avoid this, I'd appreciate it. It was a bag of beans from the supermarket, but they were whole and looked like any other dried beans I've bought.

      1. re: eamcd

        what about refried beans? You'd technically mash them, but if they're already mushy....

        Bean dip? Nobody would care after they've been through the food processor...

    2. Did you soak or boil them in salted water? This causes the skins to split. Salt should only be added near the end of the cooking process and not during the soak or pre-boil.

      4 Replies
      1. re: skaboy

        I think this has been refuted several times over, but can't put my fingers on the research right this minute.

        1. re: sunshine842

          I always brine my beans, then rinse well and simmer in seasoned (herbs, a ham pock, garlic or onion) water, but not with added salt. The beans pick up a bit of saltiness from the brining. However, I have added salt while cooking beans and it never made a bit of difference in the outcome. From personal experience, I refute the "no salt til done" rule. Salt is alkaline, it would make the beans cook slightly faster, if anything.

          See this thread for further info on brining:

          Beans should be simmered very gently, not boiled. I know the OP used a slow cooker, an excellent technique for cooking beans due to the low and slow nature of the cooking appliance.

          This doesn't answer the OP's question though; I think the beans in question were not cured properly prior to packaging, which has nothing to do with their age. The fact that they were firm for a long time, although with a slow cooker a long time is the name of the game, also indicates that they may have been past their prime.

          Refried or bean dip would be my go to for using them up.

          1. re: sunshine842

            I know that Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen did some tests a few years ago and now advocate brining the dried beans and then cook them in unsalted water until the end of cooking.

          2. re: skaboy

            NOPE! Salt is NOT the culprit. I salt my brining water and then my cooking water and so long as I cook the bean low and slow, there is never any splitting or loosening of the skins. Just a world more of flavor.

            I'm thinking that the water was too hot at some point, slow cooker or not.

          3. I think the quality of the beans is at fault. Switch brands. Don't buy those anymore.

            There are a million ways to cook beans. I pressure cooked 1 lb of dried black beans last night. No beforehand soaking because I forgot. It took about 1/2 hour of pressure cooking to cook them. They were cooked but firm; I chilled them and put them into the crock pot with SW seasonings this morning, The beans turned out great today. They aren't broken or mashed.

            I just think the beans you got are a bad batch. Either they are old, or they weren't processed properly.

            1. Thank you all. They were a package of Jack Rabbit brand dried kidney beans.

              I'd soaked them overnight in just water. I started to simmer them gently (in fresh water) then realized the pot wasn't big enough and I'd have to leave them unattended for a while. So I moved them to the crock pot. I did not add salt or anything else to the cooking.

              I was dubious at first about adding them to my chili, but in the end I did because I was making a very large batch. I just added some extra canned beans for the "whole bean" component. The broken ones essentially disappeared and made a wonderful thick base for it. It took a little extra seasoning to bring it in balance, but I just might do the same in the future and mash some beans in even if they don't split.

              Thanks all for the comments. I'm still curious about why it happened. But I saved it. I've used Jack Rabbit beans before (they are the standard option for most dried beans in my market) without similar problems.

              1 Reply
              1. re: eamcd

                Glad to hear it ended well. I use Jack Rabbit brand as well, standard bean issue in my supermarket as well, never had a problem with them.

              2. I'm getting that you're worried that the beans are bad. I wouldn't worry that the beans have gone off. Why they split is probably from rough handling or age, as you mentioned, but they beans should be fine.

                I'd still use the split beans in chili or make red beans and rice.