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Dried beans remaining crunchy after cooking


Silhorn
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Hello,

I have a problem when cooking dried beans.

I soak my beans for at least 24 hours. Whenever I cook my beans there always seems to be a small portion that still remains crunchy. I cook them just before they go mush and make sure I submerge them in more than enough water, same result. This happens whether I pressure cook or on the stove in a pot.

What I do notice though is if I soak them in SALTY water (rinse off before cooking), this problem no longer arises.

Does anyone know what the salty water does to the beans and has anyone else had this same problem happen to them?

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Ordinarily, an overnight soak in plenty of water (about four times the quantity) should take care of most beans. This might not be working for you due to the age of the beans - as beans get older they need more time to soak. It's always a good idea to purchase dried beans from a store with a very active bulk-bin so you know the beans have not been sitting in a package on the shelf collecting dust.

Brining beans (soaking with salt) during soaking accelerates their cooking time during conventional cooking. Equally, brining, accelerates their bean cooking time in the pressure cooker as well. Under normal conditions with "fresh" dried beans the recommended pressure cooking time will turn beans to mush - I haven't quite had time to figure out the exact time savings - but it's significant!

Here is a video that describes the process and talks a little bit about the science of brining beans...

Ciao,

L


Edited by pazzaglia (log)

hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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I agree that it most likely is a problem with the bean. I cook at least two pounds per week do all different sizes and shapes. I do not soak, even the giant runner beans. I cook in salted water from the start. But I use very good beans from Rancho Gordo and Purcell Mountain. Or if I buy from the store, I buy from a Latin American grocery that turns its beans probably every week or so.

I do cook beans very slowly in a clay pot. Simmer where I see a bubble or two once in a while. Runner beans can take most of a day. Slow is key because otherwise the bean will be uneven.

I've also used the pressure cooker with no problems. Sometimes I will use a pressure cooker to finish beans that are still not ready after many hours. No issues there, and it used to be my favorite way. Now I prefer the clay pot.

ETA: I always steam my beans at the end for at least 1/2 hour. I just turn the heat off and let them sit. I think this promotes even cooking too.

Edited by Ttogull (log)
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It sounds like the clay pot reduces and intensifies the bean cooking liquid - is that why you've moved to cooking them that way?

Next time you're in a hurry try pressure cooking your beans but only adding 1 1/2 cups of water for each cup of dried soaked beans. So, for two cups of beans soaked overnight, pressure cook them in just three cups of water (with natural release as you do with your clay pot). The beans and their cooking liquid will be super-charged with flavor!

Ciao,

L

hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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Actually, I think the sauce is more intense with the pressure cooker. Steve Sando (Rancho Gordo) once wrote that bean broth from a pressure cooker seemed lifeless. I had a similar thing bugging me, but I characterized it as sterile (which, in writing this, reminds me that sterile implies lifeless). There is something about putting a pot of beans on and smelling their aromas as they go through the stages of cooking. It was nice to decide last minute with the PC, but the romance was missing.

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Actually, I think the sauce is more intense with the pressure cooker. Steve Sando (Rancho Gordo) once wrote that bean broth from a pressure cooker seemed lifeless. I had a similar thing bugging me, but I characterized it as sterile (which, in writing this, reminds me that sterile implies lifeless). There is something about putting a pot of beans on and smelling their aromas as they go through the stages of cooking. It was nice to decide last minute with the PC, but the romance was missing.

Interesting! This is the first time I have heard anyone call legume cooking romantic.

One pressure cooker manufacturer I work with promotes the fact that you can't smell the cooking - but, like you, I do not find it not to be a benefit (especially for the measly 20-30 minutes it takes). A less modern venting cooker will likely release more aroma.

However--- I don't miss waking up early to start the Bolognese for a lasagna lunch and have the house smell like ragu for about four hours (and beyond the lasagna) because now I can I can pressure cook it in as much time as it takes my oven to pre-heat!

Ciao,

L

hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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I have no idea how the ATK people got the idea that salt from the brining liquid wouldn't pass through the skin of the bean, but from my experience they are dead wrong about that. If you brine beans in very salty water, even if you cook them in water with no salt whatsoever, the beans will be very salty.

--

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I have no idea how the ATK people got the idea that salt from the brining liquid wouldn't pass through the skin of the bean, but from my experience they are dead wrong about that. If you brine beans in very salty water, even if you cook them in water with no salt whatsoever, the beans will be very salty.

The ATK people don't say that, although they do state (in a recipe calling for an 8 to 24-hour soak):

'During soaking, the sodium ions will only filter partway into the beans, so their greatest effect is on the cells in the outermost part of the beans.'

(Cook's Illustrated, March & April 2008, p. 15).

They also call for draining and throughly rinsing the beans after brining.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I have no idea how the ATK people got the idea that salt from the brining liquid wouldn't pass through the skin of the bean, but from my experience they are dead wrong about that. If you brine beans in very salty water, even if you cook them in water with no salt whatsoever, the beans will be very salty.

The ATK people don't say that, although they do state (in a recipe calling for an 8 to 24-hour soak):

'During soaking, the sodium ions will only filter partway into the beans, so their greatest effect is on the cells in the outermost part of the beans.'

(Cook's Illustrated, March & April 2008, p. 15).

They also call for draining and throughly rinsing the beans after brining.

Have a listen to the ATK video posted above starting at the two-minute mark:

“By soaking them overnight in salted water, the salt slowly softens the skin. However, as the skin does not allow the salt to penetrate into the bean flesh, the interiors remain creamy and not mealy at all.” (emphasis added)

--

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Have a listen to the ATK video posted above starting at the two-minute mark:

“By soaking them overnight in salted water, the salt slowly softens the skin. However, as the skin does not allow the salt to penetrate into the bean flesh, the interiors remain creamy and not mealy at all.” (emphasis added)

I take your word for it, although I can't get the video to play. Cook's Illustrated has proved quite reliable, but the stuff on their site doesn't seem to be quite as carefully edited, and in this case, it's relatively hard to understand, given that they have the accurate information at their disposal.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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The reason that baking soda works that it raises the pH of the pot of beans. Likewise adding tomatoes or another acid ingredient will lower the pH and increase the cooking time.

Here's a Cooks Illustrated Article that addresses acidity a bit. I didn't watch the video so this may just be repetitive. Several recipes I've used for beans call for adding the acid ingredients into the beans later in the cooking process after they've already started to get tender. Here's the pertinent text:

"Troubleshooting Hard Beans

Finally, if you’ve cooked your beans for hours and found they failed to soften, chances are they are either old and stale (and will never fully hydrate or soften), the water is too hard, or there’s a acidic element present. Food scientists universally agree that high acidity can interfere with the softening of the cellulose-based bean cells, causing them to remain hard no matter how long they cook. Alkalinity, on the other hand, has the opposite effect on legumes. Alkalines make the bean starches more soluble and thus cause the beans to cook faster. (Older bean recipes often included a pinch of baking soda for its alkalinity, but because baking soda has been shown to destroy valuable nutrients, few contemporary recipes suggest this shortcut.)

But how much acid is too much acid? At what pH level is there a negative impact on the beans? We cooked four batches of small white beans in water altered with vinegar to reach pH levels of 3, 5, 7, and 9. We brought them to a boil, reduced the heat to a low simmer, and tested the beans every 30 minutes for texture and doneness. The beans cooked at a pH of 3 (the most acidic) remained crunchy and tough-skinned despite being allowed to cook 30 minutes longer than the other three batches. The beans cooked at pHs of 5, 7, and 9 showed few differences, although the 9 pH batch finished a few minutes ahead of the 7 pH batch and about 20 minutes ahead of the 5 pH batch. Acidity, then, must be relatively high to have any significant impact on beans. So in real world terms, season with discretion and don’t add a whole bottle of vinegar or wine to your beans until they are tender."

Finally, I think that it's easier to screw up beans by not using enough water than any other way I can think of.

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The pH of the cooking liquid affects the way beans cook. One of the reasons beans don't soften properly is if the pH of the liquid is to low. Baking soda will raise the pH and help the beans get tender.

Here's a Cooks Illustrated Article that addresses acidity a bit. I didn't watch the video so this may just be repetitive. Several recipes I've used for beans call for adding the acid ingredients into the beans later in the cooking process after they've already started to get tender. You'll need to read the article online - my previous attempt at posting quoted too much of the article.

Personally,I think more beans are ruined by too little cooking liquid than any other reason.

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Old beans can definitely be unusable and may never soften. That said, I used to cook black beans daily for the cafè I worked in, and, once I switched from tap water, which is very hard here and full of minerals, to filtered water (I actually used ice from the ice machine) I got great beans every time. -No soaking, just simmered for about 35 minutes with salt and a few spices.

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