Bean Tips

    Canned beans do not require additional cooking since they have been thoroughly cooked in the canning process, but there are several ways of preparing dry beans for cooking. All start with a thorough inspection for damaged beans and foreign material, then washing in cold water. The next step, which is highly recommended, is soaking the beans. This not only helps make the beans cook faster, it also improves flavor, texture, appearance and digestibility. For maximum improvement of these factors, it is recommended that the soak water be discarded and the beans rinsed and cooked in fresh water.

    Soaking: Hot-soak (preferred) and Quick-soak method. For every pound of dry beans, any variety, add 10 cups of hot water. Remember beans will re-hydrated to at least twice their dry size, so be sure to start with a large enough pot. (Note: up to 2 teaspoons of salt per pound of beans may be added to help the beans absorb water more evenly.) Heat to boiling, let boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for at least 1 hour (quick-soak method), but preferably four hours or more. The longer soaking time is recommended to allow a greater amount of the gas-causing properties to dissolve in the water, thus helping the beans to be more easily digested and lessening the aftereffects. Whether you soak the beans for an hour or several hours, remember to discard the soak water.

    Cooking suggestions for each pound of dry beans: Standard method: Drain and rinse soaked beans; put into a good- sized kettle. Add 6 cup of hot water, 1 to 2 Tablespoons shortening and 2 teaspoons salt. Boil gently with lid tilted until desired tenderness is reached.

    For Especially Savory Method: Use standard method, but use

    • 2 teaspoons onion salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt instead of plain salt
    • 3 to 4 vegetable bouillon cubes
    • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

    Simmer beans slowly. Cooking too fast can break skins. Acid slows down cooking. Add tomatoes, vinegar, etc. last. Add 1/8 to 1/4-teaspoon baking soda (no more) per pound of beans when cooking in hard water to shorten cooking time. At high altitudes, beans take longer to cook. A pressure cooker helps, but follow manufacturer's directions.

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