Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bean Cookin' 101

Most often the thought of cooking dried beans brings thoughts of dread to our minds. It seems like such a time consuming process and something you always have to plan ahead for.  There are several methods to cooking dried beans, some do take more time than others. But as you get into the practice of cooking and utilizing dried beans in your meals you will find them to be a very economical, nutritious, and delicious addition.  Below are some of the most common methods for cooking dried beans:

Before you begin cooking your beans you should first rinse and sort them, checking for any bad beans or small stones.
There are two methods for soaking beans:
1.Overnight Soak- For 1 lb. of beans cover with 6 to 8 cups of cold water and let sit overnight or for at least 6 to 8 hours. Drain and rinse before cooking.

2. Quick Soak - For 1 lb. of beans add 6 to 8 cups of Hot water in a large pot. Bring to a rapid boil and allow to boil for 2 minutes. Then remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain and rinse before cooking.

After your beans have been soaked you can cook them. To cook them on the stove top, add 6 cups of hot water to drained and rinsed beans. Bring to a slow boil and allow them to simmer with the lid tilted for about 1&1/2 to 2 hours or until desired tenderness is reached. You can also cook your beans in a slow cooker but this can take anywhere from 3 to 10 hours depending on the type of bean. I usually do chili this way.

 The simplest and fastest way to cook dried beans is to use a pressure cooker. We have a small 4 quart pressure cooker that is perfect for this. In some cases, there is no need to soak the beans you can just throw them in the cooker with the recommended amount of water and you have cooked beans in as little as 3 minutes for some beans and as much as 45 minutes for others. This method is by far the quickest way to cook dried beans. I have been using our pressure cooker a lot the past few months experimenting with different beans. A word of caution: Be sure to follow the manufacturers instruction for using your pressure cooker.  A few days ago I had a big mess on my stove top and kitchen when the safety valve on my cooker released all the steam at once because I had failed to clean the vent pipe properly.  It scared me to death it sounded like the whole thing exploded, lesson learned. As long as you follow the instructions a pressure cooker is the way to go.  Until you become experienced cooking beans in the pressure cooker it helps to follow a time chart to know how long to cook each type of bean. As you become more familiar with your pressure cooker and the different types of beans it will be easier to judge the time more accurately.  This is something I am learning as I have overcooked more than one pot of beans. I need to check the chart more often than I do. Good luck with your Beans! I hope you have as much fun as I have.

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