Wednesday, February 22, 2012
The confusing truth about cooking dried beans
I like to cook recipes that include dried beans. Beans are an excellent and frugal source of nutrition. Beans mixed with a bit of meat and vegetables makes for practically unlimited recipe variations.
I tend to research everything that I do, so of course, I have researched how to cook dried beans. My research has led me down a long and winding path that eventually comes down to:
A. rinse the beans
B. check for foreign matter (sticks and stones)
C. boil until done to the consistency that you like
However, along my research trail I also read that one can/should:
1. soak beans for up to 24 hour prior to cooking*
2. throw out the water that you used to soak the beans
3. boil the beans in the water that you used to soak the beans (conflicts with #2)
4. cook beans on simmer for 1 hour
5. cook beans on simmer for 6 hours
6. put salt in the water at the beginning, middle or end
7. don't put salt in the water
You can see that trying to align points #1 through #7 above is impossible. Therefore, I suggest that you do the above steps A-C and add any of the steps #1-7 that you agree with.
If you want to do your own research on this subject, a good place to start is this article by Michael Ruhlman.
*There is one other important piece of information about soaking dried beans. Per some sources, you should soak your dried beans for up to 24 hours and rinse them off prior to cooking. During the cooking process you should skim off any foam that rises. This will ensure that the beans will be fully digestible. Dried beans can last in storage for a very long time. The quality that allows them to last this long is also the quality that makes them hard to digest if they are not soaked per the above. Not everyone believes this. Not everyone does this. This information comes from a book called, "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. I think it is true, but I don't always do it because I don't always plan a day ahead of time that I will be using my dried beans.