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Dried Beans - What's is the trick?

Why do they take forever? I have soaked them overnight and simmered them but they take hours! Is there a trick to speeding up the process? Is it my water? They are not exotic, just black beans or kidney types. Any tips out there?

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  1. Good question! I am having a heck of a time with them too but haven't had a chance to ask Chowhounders yet. I don't have an answer (obviously) but I'm joining this thread so I don't miss anything!

    1. It depends on what kind of beans you have -- some are tender in an hour or two, some take 3-4 hours to soften -- but it's completely normal for beans to take several hours to cook.

      It also depends on how old they are -- while they indeed are shelf-stable for a long, long time -- the older they are, the longer it will take.

      It's also EXTREMELY important to not acid of any kind to your beans until *after* they are soft. Acid reacts with beans (don't ask me how - I have read, but don't remember the technical explanation) and keeps them from ever getting soft.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sunshine842

        True! Don't add any acid until the beans are cooked to the doneness you prefer. Acid (even tomato products) halts the absorption of liquid into the beans. Baked beans in a can have the acid added at the perfect moment so they don't become any mushier in the can. The following article explains the science and has some great tips: http://www.ellenskitchen.com/recipebo...

      2. I start the soak by bringing the beans to a boil and then leaving them to soak in the cooling water overnight. It seems to help - but some still take approximately forever to cook - it varies by batch.

        1. What altitude do you live at? The higher in elevation the longer they take to fully soften. (water boils at a lower temperature) Soaking overnight normally really helps. A pressure cooker also works wonders with dried beans, it does a serious persuasion on a tough bean to cooperate. Some say don't salt until fully cooked, personally it hasn't mattered. The age of the beans might matter too. All that being said sometimes you just get a bag with a pissy attitude.

          2 Replies
          1. re: rcspott

            My home is located at 21 feet above sea level. Is that considered high?

          2. Use a pressure cooker.