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valereee
12-11-2002, 05:08 PM
I tried to do a search on this but couldn't narrow it enough to find fewer than 200 threads, so my apologies if this has been dealt with in the past. Can anyone provide a definitive list of the ways I can screw up a pot of beans so they never cook? I am so sick of cooking and cooking and cooking and then at midnight still ending up with hard little rocks in delicious broth. And then I learn that something I did (something the recipe called for!) made the beans less likely to soften.

I know the time stored can make a difference, and the humidity stored at. I believe this kind of thing won't stop them completely, though, just slow them down a bit, maybe make them need more liquid to finish cooking. Or is that incorrect?

I know adding acid before the beans tenderize can stop them from tenderizing. Tomatoes, vinegar, lemon juice...what else? Wine? If so, does type of wine make a difference?

I think I discovered once that adding sugar could keep them from softening. Does that make sense, or am I making it up? :) If it's true, how much sugar can make a difference? Is it -any- sugar, or does it have to be a lot?

I think salt can make beans take longer to tenderize, is that correct?

Val

Little Bit
12-11-2002, 05:22 PM
I found this thread a while back, and saved the link. It's got lots of good information:

http://community.cookinglight.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=5462

HTH! :)

JHolcomb
12-11-2002, 05:30 PM
I store mine in the fridge and that helps a lot. Never add salt before they get close to tender, either. Sometimes old beans can take forever and ever to cook---buy from a store that seems to have a quick turnover.

wallycat
12-11-2002, 05:32 PM
You are right on all of the stuff (except I don't know about the sugar).
If you use water or broth, you have to be careful about sodium content (or softened water).

I've had this happen to me a few times and sometimes I think the beans are just posessed :eek: :rolleyes: ;)

Ohioan
12-11-2002, 05:53 PM
Have you tried starting the beans in boiling water? I usually set a kettle of water to boil while I'm sorting and rinsing the beans and cutting up the onion and garlic. Then I pour the boiling water over the beans and veggies to a depth of about two inches above the surface of the beans, put a medium flame under the pot, cover it, and wash up the bean-prep materials (measuring cup, strainer, knife, etc.). By the time that's done, I turn the light down to low and go away for an hour. Then I come back, stir everything up, re-cover, and go away again, repeating at 15-minute intervals until the beans are starting to soften, when I begin adding the other seasonings.

My beans are usually done after two hours or so -- sometimes less, sometimes more, and sometimes (chickpeas and limas) an hour or so more.

But you're right -- you shouldn't add salt or acids (tomatoes, etc.) until the beans have really begun softening.

Cheers,
Phoebe

valereee
12-11-2002, 05:58 PM
Originally posted by Little Bit
I found this thread a while back, and saved the link. It's got lots of good information:

http://community.cookinglight.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=5462

HTH! :)

Little Bit, thanks, very helpful thread!

Val

Deanna
12-11-2002, 06:03 PM
This has happened to me once or twice as well. Once I cooked the beans so long in the crockpot (on low) they almost BURNED but were still not soft.

I think it has a lot to do with the age of the beans. Sometimes you just get a bad batch!

Laura
12-11-2002, 06:11 PM
I saw on Good Eats that beans cook faster in less water. Of course, this means you have to be vigilant about always adding water. Don't ask me why though, they had that little science lady on explaining the reason, but I couldn't repeat it here if my life depended on it.

valereee
12-11-2002, 06:22 PM
Originally posted by Ohioan
Have you tried starting the beans in boiling water? I usually set a kettle of water to boil while I'm sorting and rinsing the beans and cutting up the onion and garlic...

Cheers,
Phoebe

Phoebe, I never have tried this boiling water/no soaking method! How do the beans look? Do the skins all split off, or do they look pretty good? I can't tell you how many times I've thought at 10am that I'd like a nice navy bean soup for dinner and wished I'd thought of it the night before. :) Must try this next time.

I wonder why do so many recipes call for adding the tomatoes when you start cooking the beans? Is it an inconsistent kind of thing, this failing to soften?

Val

valereee
12-11-2002, 06:24 PM
Originally posted by Laura
I saw on Good Eats that beans cook faster in less water. Of course, this means you have to be vigilant about always adding water. Don't ask me why though, they had that little science lady on explaining the reason, but I couldn't repeat it here if my life depended on it.

Laura, so are they recommending you keep a teakettle simmering beside your pot of beans and just add a bit of boiling water every fifteen minutes or so until they're tender?

Val, determined to be at least Bean Princess

Jewel
12-11-2002, 09:23 PM
My grandmother always taught me to start cooking beans in only enough water to cover them by 1", and add water every 20 minutes or so as the water evaporated, until they were tender! She also taught me to NEVER add salt to beans until they were completely tender, because salt toughens the skins...you can cook for 10 hours and they will never soften. :eek:

I pressure cook my beans now. 4 cups of water for the first cup of dried beans and 3 cups of water for each additional cup of beans. NO broth unless it's unsalted. 20 minutes at high pressure, and then I add the beans to whatever I'm making! Perfect nearly every time! :)

Laura
12-11-2002, 09:24 PM
Originally posted by valereee


Laura, so are they recommending you keep a teakettle simmering beside your pot of beans and just add a bit of boiling water every fifteen minutes or so until they're tender?

Val, determined to be at least Bean Princess

Actually, I don't remember that (although it sounds like a good idea). When I went and looked at Alton Brown's web page (and then FoodTV), the recipe they were talking about was for baked beans. They presoaked them and then baked them in the oven. But each time they said to just put enough water into cover the beans. I wish I could be more help, probably is best to defer to someone else here. When I make homemade refried beans, I quick soak them and then they are usually good to go in about 6 hours.

MKSquared
12-11-2002, 11:32 PM
From the transcript of Pantry Raid III: Beans on the Good Eats Fan Page: (SC=Shirley Corriher, AB=Alton Brown)


Now, one of the most magical things about beans, is that unlike pasta, beans actually cook faster in less water. Now, just think about that one for a second. [pause] Make your head hurt? Me, too. That is until I talked to my favorite food scientist about plant protein.

SC: Proteins actually absorb water. Now this is proteins in the beans themselves. They're [slurping in sound] soaking in water. But, proteins are also water soluble. So, if you've got a massive amount of water, like in pasta, a lot of your proteins are dissolved out there in the water instead of in the beans [slurping sound] grabbing water for themselves to expand.
AB: So, a small amount of water.
SC: Less is better.
AB: Anything else?
SC: Actually, you can add a little oil to the water to prevent foaming. You can't do that in pasta because the oil will coat the pasta and then it can't absorb that wonderful sauce. But a little oil in beans to prevent foaming is fine.

valereee
12-12-2002, 04:11 AM
Originally posted by MKSquared
From the transcript of Pantry Raid III: Beans on the Good Eats Fan Page: (SC=Shirley Corriher, AB=Alton Brown)


Ooh, very cool site! But now I'm totally confused again, because Good Eats is saying use sugar up front to keep long-cooking beans from turning to mush, add salt up front because even though IT BREAKS UP BEANS AND TURNS THEM TO MUSH (which didn't we think caused the opposite problem?), you've got the sugar to keep that from happening. AND they're calling for tomato paste up front, too.

Now, see how confusing this all is? It's like some bits of advice are totally opposite to others. Add sugar early. Don't add sugar early. Salt turns beans to mush. Salt keeps beans from softening. Add salt early. Don't add salt until beans are tender. Add tomatoes early. No, don't!

This is why I'm afraid of beans! I know that no matter what I do, occasionally I'll end up with something inedible. And I won't know why, I'll only have some vague idea that it was the salt, or maybe it was the sugar, or maybe it was the tomatoes. I ended up with inedible baked beans the first time I cooked for my inlaws. Ended up feeding them grilled cheese at 9pm after having cooked that *&%$ pot of beans for nearly twelve hours. :)

Val