January 6th - National Bean Day!
Dry Beans: Check for package expiration date. Of course, all foods last for a shorter period of time if they are not properly stored, but dried beans are listed as indefinite. Yet, they do begin to lose their moisture after 1-2 years in the pantry. Once beans get older, I suggest cooking first, without too many other ingredients.
I've purchased beans in bulk, so I have some older beans. You can vacuum seal them in smaller quantities for a far more extended shelf-life; I haven't, I just add a few extra minutes to my pressure cooker until they are tender.
Soak Beans: Sort, rinse beans and drain; (cover by 2-inch water). I normally pre-soak for 8-10 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the next morning. Cook as desired.
Stovetop "Quick-Soak": Bring beans to a quick boil in a stockpot (covered by 2-inch water). Remove from heat and cover for 1 hour. Drain and rinse. Cook as desired. Pressure Cooker
Pressure Cooker "Quick-Soak": Uncovered, bring the beans to a boil (3 x water or by 2"). Close the lid, and bring to HIGH pressure over MED-HIGH heat. Set oven timer for 2 minutes. Quickly reduce pressure under a cold running faucet. Drain and rinse.
Kombu Seaweed: Reduces the gas-producing properties of beans and also thickens the broth. Add a four-to-six-inch long strip of dried kombu seaweed to a large pot of beans and water prior to boiling. Remove the kombu once cooking is finished, if it falls apart, it's not an issue. Kombu is available in health food stores, online and sometimes in your grocer’s Asian food aisle. Or adding a slice or two of ginger or some fennel or cumin seeds can also help. Additionally, skim and discard the foam during the boiling process is another effective means of gas reduction.
The more you incorporate cooked beans in your diet, the less gassiness you should experience. Plus drink more water. Or you can ALWAYS pass out gas-reducing enzyme tablets, "Beano" before serving!
Hard Water: Tap water has an effect on the cooking times and the softening of beans. For better results in your end product, use distilled water to cook the beans. That's not just my humble opinion either.
Cook Beans Separately: Different types and ages of beans have different cooking times; avoid cooking different varieties of beans (together) at the same time, if at possible. Maintain water at a gentle simmer (not rapid boil) during cooking to prevent split skins.
Cook Till Tender: Skins should be still intact but not mushy; still easily be mashed with a fork or between two fingers. Drain the beans, reserving the broth, immediately after they have reached desired texture to prevent overcooking.
Aromatics: During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add in carrots, celery, onions, herbs, and spices, as desired,
Acids: Don't add ingredients such as tomatoes, tomato sauce, ketchup, molasses or vinegar, until beans are fully cooked.
Salt: Add salt when the beans are just almost tender, as salt tends to toughen beans. Limit the amount of salt to reduce the sodium content of beans.
Stove-Top Cooked: Cover pre-soaked beans with water (3 x water or by 2"). Add aromatics, as desired and simmer beans until they are tender 2 - 3 hrs, depending on the variety and age of the beans. Keep the beans covered with water during the cooking process. Check and add more water, periodically, as needed.
Pressure Cooker: I normally pre-soak my beans, but whenever I have a whim to cook beans FAST, I pull out my trusty old Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker.
I store several beans in bulk, and they are getting older, so it works like a charm! I've not owned an electric pressure cooker, but I have friends, who sure love theirs.
Even if I get the beans a little too soft at first, they plump and firm back up, by the next day with sauce ingredients.
|Second Level: High Pressure|
Rinse pre-soaked beans and refresh with (3 x water or by 2"). Uncovered, bring the beans to a boil. Close the lid.
With my Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker, it comes to HIGH pressure (in just 1 minute) over HIGH heat. I then push it to the back burner, turn down to nearly LOW, to maintain the constant pressure, and set my oven timer for whatever bean it is. Then reduce the pressure naturally.
Here's a reference site for Times and Altitudes.
Flavorful Bean Broth: Oh don't pour your wonderful broth down the drain! Unlike the slimy liquid from canned beans (that's full of sodium), that cooking broth is full of healthy nutrients. Once you've scooped up all your beans, reserve this liquid as a great base for soups, chili recipes, and quick sauces.
Exceptions: I don't reserve liquid from RED KIDNEY beans, WHITE KIDNEY beans (aka: cannellini beans), and BROAD/FAVA beans.
Slow Cooker: Are about the best, but take the longest! Add beans to the cooker with (3 x water or by 2"). Cook on LOW for 7-10 hours, until tender. If you are in a hurry, start the beans on HIGH, and then set it to LOW for a couple of hours. Watch your water level and taste test until tender, slow and easy!
Pre-Soaking: You don't need to pre-soak your beans with a slow cooker. You might extra 30 minutes if you do.
Slow Cooker Safety: RED KIDNEY beans, WHITE KIDNEY (aka: cannellini beans), and BROAD/FAVA beans naturally contain a toxin called Phytohaemagglutinin that's NOT destroyed in a slow cooker. You could do them in bulk, but ALWAYS pre-soak these types 8-10 hours first. Rinse and Drain. Bring the beans to a boil 10-30 minutes (3 x water or by 2") in a stockpot placed on the stove over MED-HIGH heat. Rinse, prior to adding into the slow cooker.
Bag Beans: Refrigerate cooked beans (4-5 days). Spoon beans into freezer bags, within recipe quantities.
Freezing Beans: Flash freeze bags on a baking sheet. After being frozen 1 hour, smack the bags against a counter to loosen beans. Now the bags can be stacked and frozen up to 3 months.
- Simply rinse beans in a colander and under cold water. Use on salads and in recipes.
- Thaw bag(s) and/or broth in the refrigerator. Use in recipes.
- Defrost bag(s) and/or broth in the microwave on LOW. -ditto-
P.S. Now, I'm going to pull out my pressure canner to CAN some DRY BEANS soon!