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Jan 28, 2013 12:19 PM

Can I save my baked beans?

My husband made Fannie Farmer's baked beans yesterday using some dried beans we'd gotten at some point from our CSA, not sure how old they were but could be pretty old. He soaked them first (I'm not sure how long, but it was for a while, although not overnight.) He baked them in the oven with all the recipe ingredients and they were still hard when supposed to be done.

Stubborn person that I am, I threw them in the crockpot last night with some extra water. Still tough this morning. I googled a bit and found that we should have fully cooked the beans first. Well, we didn't and I'm still wondering if I can save these. Another link mentioned beans will never soften in an acidic recipe, so I threw in some baking soda and sure enough, it fizzed right up.

So all day I've had them in the crockpot and occasionally I pour in some hot water and baking soda (which fizzes each time). They are a bit softer, and at this point I'm in it for the long haul, so if they'll every get soft by cooking them, I'll keep at it. But if this is just a lost cause, I'll give up. Any bean experts out there?

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  1. That baking soda will have ruined the flavor by now, even if it had worked as far as tenderizing goes. I know that a little BS is often recommended when cooking beans but have found that even a tiny amount not only flattens the flavor but adds an unpleasant taste. A base added after the fact won't undo what the acid has done to the bean skins. If I were you, I would taste them. If the flavor is acceptable to you, puree the beans with some stock and perhaps some caramelized onion, and call it bean soup. Add some bite-sized pieces of frankfurter or cooked sausage.

    2 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      Oh I've been tasting as I go but the taste has been OK to me. Pureeing and calling it soup is a great idea though. Thanks!

      1. Try to put some parchment paper directly over them with an aluminum foil, maybe keeping the moisture and the steam directly within might soften and cook them.

        1. From your description it sounds like he put the beans in with all the sauce ingredients when they were only soaked. I've never done that with baked beans, but I'm going to say that no they probably won't be edible.

          I have occasionally ended up putting my soaked and cooked beans in with the sauce ingredients when they were a little firmer than they should have been. I've never managed to get them totally cooked no matter how long I tried. I have gotten them to pretty firm but edible, but it took forever and they had been cooked, just a bit under done.

          You have more patience than I do, I'd have tossed them and started over.

          1. Thanks all. They did end up edible after cooking for about 26 hours, most of that in the crockpot on low. The beans softened up enough to eat. We probably did lose some flavor due to the baking soda but it really wasn't so bad.