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What Happened to My Beans?

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I bought dry cannelini beans from the bulk bin at Whole Foods (organic). I did not soak them. I cooked them in my pressure cooker. Some came out undercooked while others came out way overcooked. What went wrong?? Why would the same batch of beans yield such inconsistent results?

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  1. I believe soaking beans makes them more likely to cook evenly. I think they come out better when I soak them, just from my own experience.

    But, and maybe more importantly, it's possible that a big store like Whole Foods would mix different batches of dried beans, resulting in dried beans of different ages, which cook for different lengths of time. I would suggest buying your beans from a small store with good turnover, and soaking them at least 6 hours before cooking.

    2 Replies
    1. re: visciole

      I agree that you probably got a mix of ages of beans. But rather than buying at stores I buy all my dried beans from Rancho Gordo. So delicious!

      1. re: visciole

        "I believe soaking beans makes them more likely to cook evenly." - you're absolutely correct.
        When you soak beans they gradually absorb water through the hilum. Because they're not all the same "vintage", they absorb water at differing rates, so their "rate of saturation" will vary but eventually each will absorb all it can hold. Just be sure you watch them so they don't overcook.
        Sherrib, this'll get you started:
        http://www.squawkfox.com/2008/02/19/h...

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. The problem with pressure cooking is that you cannot stir the beans while they are cooking. Soaking before cooking is a good idea. I do it every 2 weeks when I make a big batch of minestrone in an 8-qt. stock pot. I soak the beans over night, and then they ready to be cooked in the morning.

          BTW, I use the bean liquor as the liquid for the minestrone. No, there is no antisocial bodily function from using the bean liquor. One's body adapts to digesting the stuff.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ChiliDude

            I used to cook dried beans in a conventional pot, and now I use a pressure cooker; I don't think not being able to stir them makes a difference. The only disadvantage to the pressure cooker as far as I can tell is that it's easier to accidentally over-cook. But to me that's more than made up for by the speed of the pressure cooker. However, I do always soak them.

            1. re: visciole

              I'm a big fan of the PC for many things including beans. I use it a lot when making chickpeas for hummus. Stirring is not a problem in the PC. The only thing I do find is that compared to conventional cooking I don't get the depth of flavor when making black beans for instance. For conventional cooking, I start my black beans with a diced onion and green pepper along with a few bay leaves and olive oil. The veggies cook down to nothing and I supplement with a fresher made sofrito near the end of cooking. When done in the PC, I just don't get the same depth of flavor. Not sure why