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fifi

Cooking Dried Beans

293 posts in this topic

Thanks for weighing in rancho_gordo. I think you are confirming what has been found by testing under controlled conditions.

>Is the data given in the govt link above correct? Is the peak freshness gone >after one year? And does that differ by type of bean?

I didn't get a chance to check it. But on any mass scale, from farm to cleaning to distribution to store to consumer within a year isn't very practical, especially the way most Americans eat beans. But- I don't know. I'll see if I can find out.

>As reported above, I have just started to see "use by" dates on some bean >packages. Is that a new trend?

The only problem is that it's so subjective. I know guys in the Dry Bean Association who think 5 years is just fine- and for a commerical hybrid that's going to be soaked and mixed with meat and more, it is.

>Damn. Why don't you sell mail order?

Need a job? :biggrin: Doing these markets is grueling and dealing with restaurants is exciting but there's no time for any nonesense. I don't want to do mail order until I can do it well.


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It's funny how many people insist that you absolutely have to soak beans beforehand. I always tell them that it's a myth, but they just look at me like I'm insane.

You just have to be careful. Cooks tend to be very attached to their cooking methods of beans. I used to almost fight with people but now I just smile.

But I do soak runner cannellini and the big beans.

>>>rancho gordo, I just clicked on your link and saw that you're in my area! I live in Oakland (I generally do Jack London square market on Sundays), so next Saturday I'm gonna head up to Grand Lake and try some of your beans.<<<

Yeah! I've already met two other EGullet Gastro-naughts and it's always fun. And don't forget the eGullet potluck in Napa in late Feb!


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What constitutes a season? (Sorry if that sounds dumb.) You're in CA, right? So you could conceivably get two or more harvests a year, and a season could be six months.

I have just horribly confused myself.

Repeat the question: When beans are two season old, how old are they in dog years? I mean, in months?

WIth a few exceptions, we can only get one crop a season. Heirlooms tend to be a later harvest, which is one reason hybrids are more popular. There are a few high-yielding heirlooms that we can squeeze two planting out of.

So I mean two years, practically speaking.

But we may grow them and harvest them, but then we still need to clean them and depending on the facility, it can be a good long time before they're ready to sell.


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"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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I gave up soaking a long time ago. I am not usually that organized. I have a hard enough time planning to brine meat.

I have been tearing the house up looking for some books without any luck, and checking all of my SSB type references. I just remembered reading somewhere that you can tell if a bean is old and over the hill by what the skin does if you put some hot water over it and see what happens. WHAT the skin does is what I can't remember and it is driving me nuts. Also, being an SSB, I would have to understand the theory behind that since different beans can have different structures at the microscopic level and might react differently.

edit to add: Sorry, I have a day job. :biggrin: Otherwise, selling beans could be fun.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Actually, what I've found is that if the beans are old, and you soak them, some of them will not plump up, but will remain rock-hard, and the skins will wrinkle but remain firmly attached. If they are large beans, you can pick them out at this point, but you might just want to pitch them.

My experience is that cooking time for small beans is the same with or without soaking, but kidney beans take longer if they're not soaked, and don't taste as good. YMMV.

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In January, 2003, the LA Times did an exploration of the big "bean cooking" conundrum.

Regarding salting:

"Salting: Conventional wisdom dictates that dried beans should only be salted toward the end of cooking, because the salt draws moisture from the bean, producing an unpleasantly dry texture. But exhaustive tests done by Times columnist Russ Parsons showed that beans cooked with a teaspoon of salt per pound compared to beans cooked without salt cooked to exactly the same degree of softness in almost exactly the same time. Moreover, the beans salted during cooking required half as much salt."

My personal preferences: Usually pintos which I don't soak (learned my "bean techniques" from Mexicans that never soak and find it silly because "no reason & no time"); do cook them in chicken or beef boullion, which does have salt; fry up tomatoes & "seasonings" (chiles, onions, garlic, pork, etc., in the Mexican manner) and add them for the last half-hour, after the beans are soft.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Actually, what I've found is that if the beans are old, and you soak them, some of them will not plump up, but will remain rock-hard, and the skins will wrinkle but remain firmly attached. If they are large beans, you can pick them out at this point, but you might just want to pitch them.

Sounds good to me- just be careful with a bean like Runner Cannellini. It looks as nasty and has a shriveled attached skin while it's soaking. Even when "fresh".


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"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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Sounds good to me- just be careful with a bean like Runner Cannellini. It looks as nasty and has a shriveled attached skin while it's soaking. Even when "fresh".

That is what I was afraid of. I'll bet that there is enough difference in tissue structure of different varieties of beans that you can't really make sweeping generalizations.

Damn. Something as simple as a bean can get really complicated. Mother Nature is a bitch. :biggrin:


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I'd like to know regional differences with beans.

What do you eat in TX, Fifi? Mostly pintos? any regional favorites. In Santa Maria CALIF, they eat a nice pinquito bean that's kind of dense and "fudgy" with their BBQ. IN SF, there are so many Salvadoreans, you see a lot of their red beans now. They are small and dense.

To generalize and offend, I find there are some constants. If a customer gets the concept of "pot beans", they tend to be from the west or southwest. The red beans and rice seems to be from the south and baked beans and Italian moxie seem to from the east. People from the midwest tend to be the most intimidated and want "recipes" and ideas on what to do with them. I try to tell them that a pot of heirloom beans by themselves is a glorious thing, maybe with some tortillas or rice but this is too much. Eventually they come around.

And there are plenty of exceptions to the above!


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In Texas, pintos rule. They are usually cooked with some kind of cured pork product. The addition of chile powder, peppers, onions and garlic is not unheard of.

Especially in the SE portion of the state, late summer peas are always popular. sometimes these are allowed to dry but are a favorite fresh in late summer. I still remember sitting on the porch shelling peas until my fingers were sore. Favorites are purple hulls, crowders, cream crowders (getting hard to find) and something called lady peas (also getting hard to find).

Then there is the ubiquitous black eyed pea. These are a necessity on New Year's Day. They also form the base for a bean salsa known as Texas Caviar. There are many versions.

In my family, navy beans are a favorite. My dad was in the navy during WWII and from then on, a pot of navy beans was the typical fate of the monthly ham leavings.

Houston has an incredibly diverse population so all kinds of interesting things are becoming more popular. As our Latin American/Caribbean population continues to diversify, black beans are becoming particularly common.

You ask a very good question. I would like to hear of some other regional favorites.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Then there is "the Problem" with beans. This from McGee:

"for extended space flights, it may prove advantageous to select astronauts who produce minimal amounts of methane and hydrogen and who do not normally produce very large quantities of flatus; and... selection criteria for astronauts might be established to eliminate those candidates who demonstrate marked or excessive gastroenterologic responses to stress..." What a way to wash out!

Well, it does seem that there may be some science behind some folk wisdom. It seems that phenolics that are present in certain herbs and such may suppress some of the bacterial action in the lower gut. (The situation is that the oligosaccharides in beans are not digested in the upper GI tract and arrive in the lower as ample fodder for the bacteria there to do their thing.) So, addition of epizote by the Mexicans may have some merit if epizote has a lot of phenolics. I don't know. There is a gathering opinion that if you eat a lot of beans, your bacterial population will adjust and all will be well. What has me intensely curious is the test protocol and equipment used to test those astronauts. Enquiring minds want to know.

Well, one more dream crushed. Thanks, fifi. :raz:

I like baking beans. Start them on the stovetop with whatever tastes good in the ol' Le Creuset -- bacon, spices, aromatics. Cover with water and toss in the oven for a few hours. Salting is unimportant in my experiments except for flavor. Soaking is just a pain in the butt that adds nothing -- rather cook them a little longer in the same pot.

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Damn. Why don't you sell mail order?

I was gonna say that! Maybe you could start? I bet lots of folks on egullet would be interested.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Damn. Why don't you sell mail order?

I was gonna say that! Maybe you could start? I bet lots of folks on egullet would be interested.

I'll second that. Lots of great stuff there, that as far as I know isn't available in my area. I'd love to experiment with heirloom beans...

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rancho_gordo, I am just totally impressed with how you have your popup images open on mouseover and close on clickoff. What a great idea!

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Yeah. The whole site is really nifty. I am trying to justify a little trippy-poo to Napa just to buy some beans. Does that sound nuts or what? :biggrin:


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Then there is "the Problem" with beans. This from McGee:

"for extended space flights, it may prove advantageous to select astronauts who produce minimal amounts of methane and hydrogen and who do not normally produce very large quantities of flatus; and... selection criteria for astronauts might be established to eliminate those candidates who demonstrate marked or excessive gastroenterologic responses to stress..." What a way to wash out!

Well, it does seem that there may be some science behind some folk wisdom. It seems that phenolics that are present in certain herbs and such may suppress some of the bacterial action in the lower gut. (The situation is that the oligosaccharides in beans are not digested in the upper GI tract and arrive in the lower as ample fodder for the bacteria there to do their thing.) So, addition of epizote by the Mexicans may have some merit if epizote has a lot of phenolics. I don't know. There is a gathering opinion that if you eat a lot of beans, your bacterial population will adjust and all will be well. What has me intensely curious is the test protocol and equipment used to test those astronauts. Enquiring minds want to know.

Well, one more dream crushed. Thanks, fifi. :raz:

I like baking beans. Start them on the stovetop with whatever tastes good in the ol' Le Creuset -- bacon, spices, aromatics. Cover with water and toss in the oven for a few hours. Salting is unimportant in my experiments except for flavor. Soaking is just a pain in the butt that adds nothing -- rather cook them a little longer in the same pot.

So am I to take from this that Julia Child is, well, full of gas with regard to her "antiflatulence" method of cooking beans?

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In January, 2003, the LA Times did an exploration of the big "bean cooking" conundrum.

Regarding salting:

"Salting: Conventional wisdom dictates that dried beans should only be salted toward the end of cooking, because the salt draws moisture from the bean, producing an unpleasantly dry texture. But exhaustive tests done by Times columnist Russ Parsons showed that beans cooked with a teaspoon of salt per pound compared to beans cooked without salt cooked to exactly the same degree of softness in almost exactly the same time. Moreover, the beans salted during cooking required half as much salt."

My personal preferences: I don't soak; do cook my pinto beans in chicken or beef boullion, which does have salt; fry up tomatoes & "seasonings" (chiles, onions, garlic, pork, etc., in the Mexican manner) and add them for the last half-hour.

Thank you, Jaymes. You may have saved my sanity. I am beginning to suspect that our local newspaper, The Houston Chronicle, had the great good sense to pick up a Parsons column. They do that from time to time. Maybe that is why I am remembering "respected SSB" regarding salt in beans but I am not finding it in my library. Russ's book is on my "to buy" list but I am still working my way through my last stack of Paula Wolfert.

Maybe Russ will chime in here and share some more details.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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If you don't soak the beans first I doubt you'll have much success following Harold McGee's comments above..


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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i have nothing to add except that i made some channa dal yesterday (is that a bean?). the dal turned out spectacular but has also increased the production of natural gas in our home by a couple of orders of magnitude. this has never happened before. as far as i can tell i cooked them the same way i always have. possibilities: i got a mutant batch of beans/split peas (they were from a new bag; i usually eat them with something else that counteracts this effect and this time didn't.

Mongo,

Did you rinse the dal really, really well? The reason I ask is that it is common for dal to be coated with mineral oil (or some such) and you have to take care to scrub it clean. Soak the dal in water and rub it between your hands. Rinse it multiple times. The oil is non-toxic, but it's hardly something you want to ingest. Not sure if that would lead to gas production....

p.s., dal may noyt be a "bean", but any legume is on-topic in my book. :smile:

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Mongo,

Did you rinse the dal really, really well? The reason I ask is that it is common for dal to be coated with mineral oil (or some such) and you have to take care to scrub it clean. Soak the dal in water and rub it between your hands. Rinse it multiple times. The oil is non-toxic, but it's hardly something you want to ingest. Not sure if that would lead to gas production....

p.s., dal may noyt be a "bean", but any legume is on-topic in my book. :smile:

yes, the dal was washed exhaustively--over and over again till the water ran clear. i should add i cook dal of one kind or the other every other day. never had this reaction before. wonder why it happened this time--as far as i can tell i did everything the same way. the only variable is that this was the first time i cooked this particular dal after our move to boulder. perhaps this is the way the bacteria in my gut respond to altitude. will have to see if it happens again.

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If you don't soak the beans first I doubt you'll have much success following Harold McGee's comments above..

Maybe I'm dense. Would you explain your caveat, please, Paula?


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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This one is new to me. Paula Wolfert, in discussing cassoulet, has espoused the importance of cooking beans in "just enough liquid" and not too much in order to attain the optimum texture. It turns out that McGee has also addressed this issue. Another quote from McGee:

And it turns out, contrary to what we would expect, that seeds will actually absorb more water in a smaller volume of water: the less cooking water, the fewer carbohydrates are leached out, and the carbohydrates will take up about 10 times their weight in water. This means, then, that seeds will seem softer in a given time if cooked in a minimal amount of liquid.

does this help?


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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I'm in Texas and I have several favorite beans. Black, red, pinto, garbanzo, adzuki, most varieties of lentils, limas and fava beans. Oh. But wait, there's more! :wub: I made pintos with ham hocks this weekend.

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If you don't soak the beans first  I doubt you'll have much success following Harold McGee's comments above..

Maybe I'm dense. Would you explain your caveat, please, Paula?

I was scratching my head about that one, too. Then Paula posted the "just enough water" quote. I am guessing, but I think that Paula is referring to the fact that if you don't "pre-swell" the beans, you aren't going to know the ultimate volume of beans and therefore won't know how much liquid to add. Makes sense to me and I will keep that in mind when dealing with unknown beans. I will especially keep it in mind when I finally tackle cassoulet... unknown beans and a lot of work to screw up. That one, I will probably plan ahead. Others, much less chance. I tend to cook beans on a whim.

In my crockpot, I don't worry about it. Over the years I have come to know how most of the beans I cook will swell. For example, I know that my red beans need about 3/4 inch of water over the beans to start and Camellia red beans are very consistent. If I am in "unknown bean" territory, I start with about 3/4 inch of water over, then check as it goes for the first couple of hours (I start on high.) and add water as needed. Usually after two hours on high they have done their thing, I can switch to low and go about my business.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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