Cooking Beans

cooking-beans-200

Dried beans are a great source of inexpensive protein, fiber, vitamins, etc. etc. They also make great fall and winter dishes. The trouble with dried beans is you have to plan ahead. Most beans have to soak. The good news is you can put them to soak before you go to work! Come home and they’re ready to cook. Beans cooked properly taste lovely.

OK, let’s cook beans. If you own a pressure cooker, beans are a snap and you are probably already a bean cooker. Basically, a pressure cooker cuts your cooking time in half. If you don’t own one don’t worry.   Everything is the same, it just takes longer.

Buy dried beans from a store that has high turnover. Buy them form the bulk section. Don’t buy more beans than you will use in a month. Put them in a closed container away from light and moisture.

Cooked beans expand in volume. For example, a cup of dried chickpeas will yield 2 to 3 cups cooked. For learning purposes, I will cook 1 cup of beans. Feel free to cook as much as you like.

Basic bean cooking:

  • Measure out 1 cup of beans.
  • Slowly pour them through your fingers into the soaking bowl, removing any pebbles and debris.
  • Fill the soaking bowl with 4 cups of cold water (4 to 1 ratio) and let stand overnight or 8 to 10 hours.
  • Pour beans into a colander or sieve and rinse with cold water.
  • Put beans in a large pot with a tight fitting lid and add cold water to cover 4 to 1 (at least 1″ above beans).
  • Bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, scooping off any foam that accumulates on the surface.
  • Add a 2″ piece of Kombu (this really helps you to digest beans and adds trace minerals and iodine. You can find Kombu @ PCC and Whole Foods). Here is a link to buy Kombu online:  Eden Foods
  • Next, turn the heat to the lowest setting, cover and simmer beans for 1 to 2 hours. Check for doneness every 30 minutes. Also, check the water level. If your stovetop lowest setting is too hot and you’re boiling off water, you’ll have to buy a heat diffuser (flame tamer). I needed one for my stove. It comes in very handy for all slow simmering jobs.
  • When beans are soft, add salt to taste. Only add salt after beans are cooked.  Use beans in any recipe you like. If you want to try a bean recipe that I’ve tested and like, just give me a call or email.  Beans will keep in their cooking liquid refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Reading over this, I realize cooking beans sounds like a nightmare. The truth is, once you do it a couple times and you get a rhythm, it’s really simple. The bottom line is: clean, soak, rinse, boil, scoop, add Kombu, cover, simmer. OK, go.

Here is a chart on the internet for minimum soaking and cooking times. Always take cooking times with a grain of salt: Bean Chart

Rick Sullens

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