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May 5, 2012 02:19 PM

cooking beans, what am I doing wrong

So I realize there are several methods for cooking dried beans - and my question isn't strictly about cooking. I'm uncertain if I'm doing anything wrong in my bean-cooking attempts. I'd like to go over what I've done, and maybe someone can tell me if I'm doing anything wrong.

1) Buying beans - previously, I had bought packaged dried beans from the supermarket, and they yielded not-so-great results. So next I've tried bulk beans from a reliable bulk place at my local market, with reasonably high turnaround.

2) I pick them over.... (small ones, cracked, etc)

3) Soaking: I've now tried Bittman's quick-soak method, and Harold McGee's salt-soak method, with minimal cooking water. When I soak beans - no matter what - they crack quite a bit and start to fall apart. Is this normal? Is this the quality of the beans? Black beans, chick peas, kidney beans have all done this.

4) Rinsing etc

5) Cooking: My beans fall apart. Chick peas just split apart. Black beans crack and fall apart.

Help! Should I try a different source for my dried beans? A different soak/cook method? (I don't have access to a pressure cooker...)

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  1. i'm wondering if this has something to do with your water? either too alkaline or too acid?

    obviously, if they are cracked just from the soaking, no way they will hold further during cooking.

    have you tried cooking straight-away, without soaking?

    1. I always follow Narsai David's instructions for degassing beans first. In this recipe of his, he writes that beans will fall apart when cooked too long.

      1. Try the UC Davis method, as described by Harvey Steiman:
        1) put beans into pot, cover with water
        2) bring to a boil
        3) turn off heat, place lid, sit for 1 hour
        4) drain and continue with recipe
        I have used this with success on any variety of dried beans

        1. It's your beans very possibly, they are old, as in very old, especially if they crack after soaking, or are you boiling them rather than simmering? Just last week, I cooked a cup of Great Northern white beans I've had in my cupboard for TWO YEARS and they were cooked up just fine. Overnight soak in light salt brine, rinsed and simmered with garlic and bay until tender.

          I use the quick soak or overnight, doesn't matter, same results.

          Are you simmering your beans? Do not boil!

          Water might have something to do with it. Hard or soft water can affect outcome. Do some reading about the water in your area and how it affects your cooking.

          2 Replies
          1. re: bushwickgirl

            check out the very recent thread here on brining beans.

            1. re: Madrid

              What very recent thread? Would have been nice if you linked it for the OP.

              This one, correct?

              Saw it, posted to it, even more reason to brine.