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Thread: Should Cooking Dried Beans Really Be This Easy?

  1. #1
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    Should Cooking Dried Beans Really Be This Easy?

    For years I shied away from cooking dried beans---used cans. Decided I wanted to make my own (avoid sodium and BPA from cans, possibly save money---not 100% sure the dried beans are cheaper). Had heard that it took forever to cook beans. ??????

    Have now made pinto, kidney, and today, black eyed peas. They cook up much more quickly than the cooking directions on the bags indicate. Today I did the quick soak method for black eyed peas. Boiled them for 2 minutes. Sat for an hour (actually more like 40 minutes). After the quick soak, they are supposed to be cooked 1/5 to 2 hours---but they are almost soft enough without further cooking them, just after the quick soak.

    Am I doing something wrong? Should they took longer? I'm next going to try dried chickpeas, which I hear take forever to cook.

    May have to get some of those heirloom beans Canice has posted about if it's really this easy to cook beans.
    “It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society”.----Krishnamurti

  2. #2
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    The duration of cooking depends on the age of the bean, more than anything.
    If you have newly dried beans, they will cook much faster.
    Some people cook up beans after storing them for a year and find the cooking time is longer.

    I think most people who use canned versus dry simply object to the planning (soaking, even fast soak, and cooking for 1/2 hour versus heating through).
    When I used to eat beans, I would toss them in a crockpot in the morning, and they would be ready for me in the evening.
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  3. #3
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    I use an even "quicker" method -- and I put that in quotation marks because I'm counting working time rather than waiting time. I boil a kettle of water while I'm picking over and rinsing the beans. Then I put the beans in a pot with some slices of onion and garlic, pour the boiling water over them to a depth (or height?) of an inch or two above the beans, stir everything up, put on the lid, and go away until the beans are done, usually an hour and a half or two hours, depending on the type and age of the beans. Every now and then I check on them and give them a stir, but mostly I go about my business and let them take care of theirs (i.e., cooking). Tra la.

    Oh, and one nice thing about the long cooking time is that the onion and garlic dissolve into the bean water.

    Cheers,
    Phoebe

  4. #4
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    I cook mine in a slowcooker. Usually with just a bay leaf, but I'll have to try adding an onion. I measure beans, then cover with filtered water (I have hard water), walk away. Low for about 6 hours, high for about 3. I have accidentally overcooked them on a couple of occasions so I start peeking at three hours. Has worked like a charm.

    Agreed that age of bean makes a difference in how long.

    Pheobe - I'll have to give your method a try. That sounds like it would help prevent over cooking my uber fresh beans (from last years garden).
    Blogging it! A healthy serving of books, a dash of food, a splash of knitting, all topped off with the occasional trip. Serving recipe reviews on Mondays, book reviews on Thursdays.

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ohioan View Post
    I use an even "quicker" method -- and I put that in quotation marks because I'm counting working time rather than waiting time. I boil a kettle of water while I'm picking over and rinsing the beans. Then I put the beans in a pot with some slices of onion and garlic, pour the boiling water over them to a depth (or height?) of an inch or two above the beans, stir everything up, put on the lid, and go away until the beans are done, usually an hour and a half or two hours, depending on the type and age of the beans. Every now and then I check on them and give them a stir, but mostly I go about my business and let them take care of theirs (i.e., cooking). Tra la.

    Oh, and one nice thing about the long cooking time is that the onion and garlic dissolve into the bean water.

    Cheers,
    Phoebe
    Phoebe -- quick question... do you put the covered beans/boiling water over heat or just let sit at room temp to cook?

    Thanks!

    Kate

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kate B View Post
    Phoebe -- quick question... do you put the covered beans/boiling water over heat or just let sit at room temp to cook?

    Thanks!

    Kate
    Oops, forgot to mention that I simmer the beans on low heat after pouring the boiling water on them. The pre-boiled water is just a little time-saver, in that I don't have to wait for the beans to come to a boil; the water comes to a boil while I'm picking over and rinsing the beans. The rest is regular cooking.

    Cheers,
    Phoebe

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ohioan View Post
    Oops, forgot to mention that I simmer the beans on low heat after pouring the boiling water on them. The pre-boiled water is just a little time-saver, in that I don't have to wait for the beans to come to a boil; the water comes to a boil while I'm picking over and rinsing the beans. The rest is regular cooking.

    Cheers,
    Phoebe
    Thank you! I figured just letting them sit off the heat was too easy but thought I'd ask.

    Kate

  8. #8
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    [QUOTE=Varaile;1704122]I cook mine in a slowcooker. Usually with just a bay leaf, but I'll have to try adding an onion. I measure beans, then cover with filtered water (I have hard water), walk away. Low for about 6 hours, high for about 3.

    Agreed that age of bean makes a difference in how long.

    [QUOTE]



    me, too, but i usually add the onion, and i often soak them in leftover coffee for a subtle flavor boost.

  9. #9
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    Yay! I guess my beans were fresh.

    But---as nice as it was that they cooked up quickly, not as easy as I thought----in that a lot fell apart! Definitely not as pretty as canned beans...
    “It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society”.----Krishnamurti

  10. #10
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    While it's true fresher beans will cook faster than older ones, could you have been boiling them rather than cooking a low simmer? I ask only because of your mentioning that a lot of them fell apart. As for price, there is no question at all that where I live dried are a lot cheaper than canned, but I know food prices fluctuate from places to place. I can buy a pound of organic dried beans (pinto, kidney, Great Northern types) from the bulk bins at Whole Foods for maybe a $1.50 -- that's the equivalent of four cans, which are definitely more than 35-40 cents and not organic. Plus, if you cook up some small white beans and then compare them side by side to the canned ones it's really hard to go back. Or, it was for me.
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  11. #11
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    If water is hard, it toughens the skins.
    So....if you want to delay your cooking time, add salt.
    If you want to speed up old, tough beans, add baking soda...and WATCH them carefully.
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  12. #12
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    RiverFarm,
    Your post makes it sound like you didn't cook the beans after the boil and soak. They'll still need to be cooked before you use them in a recipe. Great Northerns for me usually take another 1 - 1 1/2 hours. That could be because I don't use Great Northerns nearly as often as others, so I know they are older. Lately I have been using Cooking Light's method of brining on black, navy and garbanzo beans. The beans seem to cook more quickly, have a better flavor and keep their shape, not falling apart. The brine is 2 quarts water and 1 1/2 T. table salt for 1/2 lb. beans. You soak them 8 - 16 hours, then rinse and cook with fresh water. I generally put them to soak at night, and start cooking in the AM before I go to work. I'm a convert after being very skeptical that it would work. I don't bother with pintos since they cook so quickly anyhow.

  13. #13
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    Riverfarm,
    is your softwater salt-softened? That would harden your beans.
    If it is potassium, I am not sure if it would (or how much) affect the bean skin.
    If your cold water bypasses the softener, then you are getting hard water.
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

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