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Thread: Flavoring bean *soaking* water?

  1. #1

    Flavoring bean *soaking* water?

    Is there any reason why one couldn't add spices or aromatics to the soaking water for dry beans? This is the point where they absorb most of their liquid, after all. I've experimented with adding these things to the cooking water, but have been underwhelmed by the flavor it added.

    I can't be the only one who's thought of this, but I can't seem to find info on it.

  2. #2

    90 Minute No-Soak Beans

    1 pound beans
    1/2 tablespoon salt

    Preheat the oven to 250.

    Put the beans into a large dutch oven, or a pot with a tight fitting lid, add the salt. Add enough water to cover the beans by 1 1/2", bring to a boil.

    Cover the pot, and set in the oven. Cook for 75 minutes. After 45 minutes check and if they look too dry add some boiling water. After 75 minutes they should be done.

    http://thepauperedchef.com/2009/06/9...oak-beans.html
    The cardiologist's diet: - If it tastes good spit it out!

  3. #3
    I'm guessing you mean to skip the soaking step so that the beans absorb more of the cooking water? I've tried that before (using Bittman's method in HTCE, and I've tried the quick-soak method) but don't like the texture as well, unfortunately.

  4. #4
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    I would never cook beans in salt.

    Do you (OP) cook your beans in the soaking liquid? I do, but just wondered as to throw out the aromatics would bug me (to do so before cooking). As to your actual question, I think it would depend on whether you are adding anything that would encourage bacterial growth at room temp overnight. Spices seem fine, for exs. Or garlic probably. Would not use melted lard though, for exs, something I love to cook with my beans.
    -Laura

    Muffins are for people who don't have the 'nads to order cake for breakfast.
    --Seth, "Kitchen Confidential" (the show, not the book)

    www.thespicedlife.com/

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by ljt2r View Post
    I would never cook beans in salt.
    I agree. I was merely quoting the recipe, and gave the source. I always add salt near the end of the cooking time and I, personally, think 1 1/2 tablespoons is too much. If the OP used this No-Soak recipe she could add any seasonings she wants, just as she does now = after soaking.
    The cardiologist's diet: - If it tastes good spit it out!

  6. #6
    I thought about the bacteria thing, and wondered about putting something botanical in water and leaving it out overnight. Until I remembered that beans are botanical, lol. I wondered, though, if I might have to experiment soaking the beans in the refrigerator. I've read that it's not quite as effective as soaking at room temperature, but if it would allow me to get the flavor I want when that's what I'm going for, I might try the sacrifice.

    As for the salt thing, what a debate that seems to be between chefs, authors, home cooks, etc.! It seems to me that the tide seems to be shifting toward the "It doesn't matter" camp, though? As of about 2 years ago, Cook's Illustrated actually said that adding salt to the soaking water makes skins softer. Apparently it works like a water softener, displacing some of the minerals in tap water that would otherwise bind with the beans' skins and cause toughness. Who knew? I haven't tried it yet, since I'm mostly using the methods in HTCE and HTCEV, which call for salting when the beans start getting tender.

    I know that I would obviously be able to season the water that the beans absorb if I did the no-soak method, but I just can't seem to get that method to work for me. My husband is a pretty non-picky eater, but he does have preferences for bean texture that are more particular than my own. I asked this question because I'm trying to find an alternative that will work for us.

    ljt2r - I usually don't cook my beans in the soaking liquid, but then I've never had a reason to in the past. What I was actually considering doing was creating a sachet with my flavorings and aromatics. I could simply transfer that to the cooking pot with new water, I suppose.

  7. #7
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    I am sure this is something cooks don't agree on either but I think you lose vitamins when you discard the soaking water. When I soak, which is about 50% of the time, I always cook in the soaking liquid.

    PS Are you using good, fresh beans, like Rancho Gordo, etc? I cannot imagine why you are having trouble with cooking without soaking unless the beans are old.
    -Laura

    Muffins are for people who don't have the 'nads to order cake for breakfast.
    --Seth, "Kitchen Confidential" (the show, not the book)

    www.thespicedlife.com/

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by ljt2r View Post
    I am sure this is something cooks don't agree on either but I think you lose vitamins when you discard the soaking water. When I soak, which is about 50% of the time, I always cook in the soaking liquid.

    PS Are you using good, fresh beans, like Rancho Gordo, etc? I cannot imagine why you are having trouble with cooking without soaking unless the beans are old.
    I think it's pretty accepted now that you lose vitamins when you toss the soaking water. Also that soaking isn't really necessary with most dried beans. And that salting doesn't toughen, but that one has a lot of adherents still.

  9. #9
    Ok...for those who don't soak...how do you get your beans truly tender (like a canned bean) before the skins bust open and your beans start breaking? I can't seem to do it without a long, 8-12 hour soak.

    I also didn't know about the vitamins - good to know. I've only read that the quick-soak (with heat) method leaches vitamins out.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by apple*tart View Post
    Ok...for those who don't soak...how do you get your beans truly tender (like a canned bean) before the skins bust open and your beans start breaking? I can't seem to do it without a long, 8-12 hour soak.

    I also didn't know about the vitamins - good to know. I've only read that the quick-soak (with heat) method leaches vitamins out.
    Well 75% of the time the beans in my cans have split also. I guess split beans don't bother me.
    -Laura

    Muffins are for people who don't have the 'nads to order cake for breakfast.
    --Seth, "Kitchen Confidential" (the show, not the book)

    www.thespicedlife.com/

  11. #11
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    Yea, definitely find canned beans to be split and mushy.
    I soak about 50% of the time and always cook in the soaking liquid. I cook on the stove and keep the flame very, very low so the water just simmers.
    I prepared half a pound of Great Northerns last night without soaking and it took about two hours after the initial boil until they were done.
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ADM View Post
    90-Minute No Soak Beans

    1 pound beans
    1/2 tablespoon salt

    Preheat the oven to 250.

    Put the beans into a large dutch oven, or a pot with a tight fitting lid, add the salt. Add enough water to cover the beans by 1 1/2", bring to a boil.

    Cover the pot, and set in the oven. Cook for 75 minutes. After 45 minutes check and if they look too dry add some boiling water. After 75 minutes they should be done.

    http://thepauperedchef.com/2009/06/9...oak-beans.html
    I tried this recipe last year, was a bit skeptical, but the beans turned out great. It's my go-to dried bean recipe now. I've been playing with different seasonings for different beans. I reduce the salt a bit, though. Note: it really helps to have fresh dried beans, not ones that have been sitting around on the shelf or in a warehouse for 2+ years.
    Cindi in KC

    "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot (1927-1956)

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by KCSoccer View Post
    I tried this recipe last year, was a bit skeptical, but the beans turned out great. It's my go-to dried bean recipe now. I've been playing with different seasonings for different beans. I reduce the salt a bit, though. Note: it really helps to have fresh dried beans, not ones that have been sitting around on the shelf or in a warehouse for 2+ years.
    I had learned tough beans might be the result of salting in the early stages. Then on American TEst Kitchen Bridget recommended putting salt in at the beginning. I agree the age of the beans on your shelf may cause problems. I also understand that there are just bad batches of beans that could not be softened despite the method.

  14. #14
    Well, the bummer part about split beans is that most of them disintegrate into the liquid, just leaving their skins behind. The more that split, the less yield from the batch. The ones that stay partially intact are ok for purees and such, but they're not so great for recipes in which you want them to be whole.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by apple*tart View Post
    Is there any reason why one couldn't add spices or aromatics to the soaking water for dry beans? This is the point where they absorb most of their liquid, after all. I've experimented with adding these things to the cooking water, but have been underwhelmed by the flavor it added.

    I can't be the only one who's thought of this, but I can't seem to find info on it.
    Good question, you have a point. I also wanted to know the answer, and I stumbled on a website that might have an answer. Here

  16. #16
    Wow - that's a really interesting article, thanks for the link! I've read about these phytates elsewhere, but not in this detail. Nutrient absorption aside, this line stood out for me: "The herbs and spices used in seasoning permeated the beans much better if they were soaked in plain water." I thought it was interesting that they discarded their soaking water, too. I imagine it's to get rid of the phytates; I wonder if that means that enough nutrients remain in the beans, after soaking, that if you remove enough phytates you'll absorb more than if you were to cook in the soaking water (or not soak) and keep all of the phytates. I'm going to have to look into this further. Thanks again.

  17. #17
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    You're welcome. Thank you for bringing this up to add it to our kitchen encyclopedia.

  18. #18
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    It's my understand that the primary reason for discarding the soaking water, is this removes 80% of the indigestible complex sugars that cause gas.

    Here's a quote from missvickie.com:
    "Don't use the soaking water to cook the beans in, not only does it contain all the gas causing, indigestible complex sugars of oligosaccharides that have leached off the outer coating of the beans, but also all the other revolting stuff that came off the beans."

  19. #19
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    "other revolting stuff that came off the beans."
    Huh?? What "revolting stuff" would that be? Does she not simply wash them before soaking?
    People seem to treat beans like they're toxic. To me they're just a wholesome whole food; whatever flavor or nutrients come out in the soaking stay with the cooking water.
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canice View Post
    "other revolting stuff that came off the beans."
    Huh?? What "revolting stuff" would that be? Does she not simply wash them before soaking?
    People seem to treat beans like they're toxic. To me they're just a wholesome whole food; whatever flavor or nutrients come out in the soaking stay with the cooking water.
    Yeah, I thought that was weird too.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canice View Post
    "other revolting stuff that came off the beans."
    Huh?? What "revolting stuff" would that be? Does she not simply wash them before soaking?
    People seem to treat beans like they're toxic. To me they're just a wholesome whole food; whatever flavor or nutrients come out in the soaking stay with the cooking water.
    Could not agree more. I also cook in soaking water.
    -Laura

    Muffins are for people who don't have the 'nads to order cake for breakfast.
    --Seth, "Kitchen Confidential" (the show, not the book)

    www.thespicedlife.com/

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