Plan, soak, go slow – 2 of the 3 can be difficult when you are in a hurry or set aside one day a week to cook and like me, and maybe like me, use the grocery store (rather than a list) as your cooking muse. You should be applauded for getting dried beans, they are about ¼ the cost of the can and save a ton of energy in terms of making the can, recycling and redistributing the metal back into a can. You also deserve props for revisiting your wipeout, it is brave to pick yourself up and get on the horse, even if the horse is dried beans.
You’ll be fine, beans aren’t complicated, especially if you plan ahead, soak the beans and put them on the back burner.
|Bon Appetit, no really from the Mag.|
Soak – The skin of the bean is not porous. The legume rehydrates through a tiny pore called the hilum. An hour of soaking expands the seed coat, allowing the bean to absorb moisture more readily. Soaking has the bonus of reducing cooking times by 3/4 (depending on the type of bean). Wait there’s more…soaking the beans, draining the water, and rinsing the beans dramatically reduces the number of water-soluble carbohydrates, the very carbs that colon-based bacteria like to break down into gas.
The big question with soaking is to salt or not salt. Sodium displaces magnesium and calcium in the cell wall making it easier for the bean to absorb moisture. Cool, right? Except by displacing magnesium and calcium affects the final consistency, running the risk of mushy beans. The Standard Operating Procedure in the Saucykitchen is to never salt beans until right before serving.
Slow – Water boils at 212ºf/100ºc, the starch in beans converts to something soft, edible and possibly delicious between 160-170ºf – that is the temp inside the bean, not the cooking liquid - I know, it is hard to get the probe thermometer in that bean. Boiling the hell out of the pot and its contents really isn’t going to reduce cooking times. Low and slow, a crock pot or electric slow cooker is really going to reduce the temptation to speed things up, which you aren’t really doing anyway, since the bean is going to heat up and convert those starches as the water gets drawn into the center of the legume. 1 to 2 hours on moderately low heat depending on the size, type and age of bean (Lentils and split peas are going to cook much quicker). Check other tips here.
So, pick the day you are going to make soup and you can either soak the beans overnight or on your way to work in the morning. Then, drain, rinse and add to stockpot or slow cooker. Stir every once and while and make sure you use enough water or stock to cover the bean completely so the beans on top aren’t hard and the bottom mushy. Next time it comes up, tell your friends you have mastered the beans, and seriously all they have time to do is make fun of something that happened years ago, besides they should save their ridicule for people who never try, not those who do.
Way to go.