Cooking dried beans is such a cheap, easy way to make a healthy family meal. We love beans around here and eat a ton of them, and although we do sometimes rely on canned beans, nothing can match the flavor and consistency of beans that you cook yourself.
The traditional way recommended to cook dried beans is to soak them in water overnight, then simmer until cooked the next day. That works great, however, I almost never do that for a couple of reasons. First, as you have seen, my refrigerator has limited space due to my condiment problem. Second, and yes this a crazy reason, there was a period of time at work when I would put beans to soak, and then the next day when I was supposed to come in and cook them, someone in my family would get sick and the beans would sit too long and go bad. It happened 3 times in a row, and I got weirdly superstitions about pre-soaking beans. I know, it is crazy–I never said I was totally well-balanced. The third reason is that I get great results from my quick cooking bean method, which is an amalgamation of bean cooking methods that I have learned over the years.
They keys to getting this right:
1. Never add salt or acid the beans before they are totally, totally cooked. An article came out recently in a big time food magazine that said you can salt the beans before they are cooked…I don’t believe it. My experience is that early salting leads to beans that never really cook until tender.
2. Choose a big pot. Bigger than you think you need. The pot should be at least 5 times bigger than the amount of beans you put in it.
3. Leave yourself enough time–at least 4 hours. Cooking times vary and you don’t want to rush a bean.
4. If you can, order fresh beans. Most dried beans in supermarkets are years old. They are old, dried up things that take forever to cook. If it is possible for you to find a source for dried beans that are a year old or less, it is worth stocking up. Above you see my absolute favorite dried bean in the world. Rancho Gordo beans are the best quality and variety I’ve had. Even though they are slightly pricier, they are still a bargain given how much healthy, delicious, protein and fiber rich food you can get out of one pound of cooked beans.
5. Some people swear that discarding the bean liquid makes them less likely to make you gassy. I think it is a myth, but it is hotly debated. I don’t discard the liquid. Nothing seems to help that problem around here.
6. A pinch of baking soda softens the skins and helps the beans cook.
7. When the beans are totally soft, salt them well and add a splash of vinegar.
|How To Cook Dried Beans||
- 1 pound dried beans
- enough water to cover the beans, very generously
- 1 bay leaf
- pinch baking soda
- Cover the beans very generously with water.
- Bring to a boil.
- Turn off heat and let beans sit for one hour.
- Turn on heat, add baking soda and bay, and simmer until the beans are totally tender. Cooking times will vary from one to three hours, depending on the size and age of the bean.
- When the beans are totally tender, add salt and a splash of vinegar.