Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cooking Dried Beans

I wrote this up for our CSA newsletter back in June, but figured I'd post it here as well: how to cook dried beans.


Beans are a healthy addition to a diet; they’re an excellent source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, and iron. Because they’re high in carbohydrates, they’ll up your energy level. And they’re low in fat. But you can’t just take dried beans and cook them. You have to soak them, most of them anyway. Lentils, split peas and black-eyed peas do not need to be soaked before cooking.

Here’s a quick how-to...

Before you start, pick through the beans, tossing out any discolored or shriveled beans or any foreign matter, such as rocks. Rinse well.

If you have overnight, there’s the Slow Soak…
In a large souppot, cover 1 pound dried beans with 10 cups water. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 6-8 hours. Drain and rinse the beans.

If you’re pressed for time, but still have 2-3 hours, use the Hot Soak…
In a large souppot, bring 10 cups water to a boil. Stir in 1 pound dried beans and return to a boil. Remove from the heat. Cover tightly and soak, at room temperature, for 2-3 hours. Drain and rinse the beans.

And if you’re really in a time crunch, there’s the Quick Soak…
In a large souppot, bring 10 cups water to a boil. Stir in 1 pound dried beans and return to a boil. Continue boiling for 2-3 minutes. Cover tightly and soak, at room temperature, for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans.

After soaking, the beans are ready for cooking. Cover them with water in a large souppot and bring to a boil. Reduce the beans to a simmer. Once cooked, drain...and they're ready to go.

Unfortunately, after soaking and cooking, these gorgeously colored Gila River beans from Coke Farm grew dramatically less so.


A caveat: when cooking beans, do not add salt or acidic ingredients, such as vinegar or tomatoes. These slow the cooking process, so, add them when the beans are just tender. Cooking times differ from bean to bean, but also depend on their age. The beans are done when they can be easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork.

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