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No-soak beans, in the oven, in 90 minutes


Fat Guy
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Excellent video!  I can't decide whether I liked the sound track or the video effects better, but the sum is delicious and inspiring, and the music is really making me smile. :cool: (I never thought about adding a squeeze of lime and a scrape of cheese.)  Thanks for the fun tutorial!

Is that clay in the video something you'd put in the fireplace?

The only thing I take seriously is my beans!

Here's a thread on bean pots. I would put the pot in the video in the fireplace but I might prefer one that's squatter so it won't tip over. I am embarresed to tell you how many pots I have.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"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 am embarresed to tell you how many pots I have.

So, if I send you $5008 will you throw-in a free pot with my thousand pounds of beans? :raz:

All of this bean talk has made me hungry and eager to experiment. I've also (somewhat humbly) finally figured out why I suffered so many bean failures at a previous residence. I was the laughing stock of a group of musicians who routinely came over on Sundays to pick and grin. Regardless of my best intentions, the beans were akin to bullets time after time. I finally gave up and served something else (going against tradition). Now I know it was the well water and not me, after years of living in shame. :shock:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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A few thoughts of my own.

I grew up in a town with a large Mexican population and never knew any of them to soak beans.

My mom was a rather lazy cook and never planned far ahead enough to soak over night.

I have never soaked overnight and have only quick soaked a few times with very old beans.

Never was concerned about salt because if salt makes beans tough why doesn't a salty ham bone? Salt makes beans taste better.

Baking soda gives beans an unpleasant texture.

I have very high calcium in my well water and realize it does slow down the cooking process. Will use the Britta water that we use for coffee next time.

I like the long slow stovetop simmer over either the crockpot or the pressure cooker.

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I just today received in the mail a 6-quart dutch oven and 4 pounds of Rancho Gordo beans. As soon as I have an opportunity in the kitchen, I'll be trying this method. The only question is what type of beans to try first...

-- There are infinite variations on food restrictions. --

Crooked Kitchen - my food blog

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  • 2 weeks later...
I have always soaked beans overnight and then cooked them in the crock-pot.  I usually put a ham hock and some onion in the pot as well.  So here is my silly question...when using this no-soak-in-the-oven method, can I still put the ham hock and onion in with the beans in the 250F oven!? 

Bob R in OKC

I am about to give this a whirl, and would love to throw a strip of bacon and a quarter onion in the pot. Is this recommended?

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I am about to give this a whirl, and would love to throw a strip of bacon and a quarter onion in the pot. Is this recommended?

I almost always cook beans with a bit of mirepoix, a couple crushed garlic cloves, a fresh thyme stick, and a bay leaf or two.

I don't see why bacon or ham hocks would be a bad idea. Are you concerned it won't cook for long enough?

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I am about to give this a whirl, and would love to throw a strip of bacon and a quarter onion in the pot. Is this recommended?

I almost always cook beans with a bit of mirepoix, a couple crushed garlic cloves, a fresh thyme stick, and a bay leaf or two.

I don't see why bacon or ham hocks would be a bad idea. Are you concerned it won't cook for long enough?

I primarily have some, probably irrational, fear that the fat will some how coat the beans and prevent them from absorbing water.

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I had a disappointing failure last night. Well, not really disappointing because the beans came out alright, it just took about three hours. I added bacon, a pork chop, an onion, a little molasses, some mustard powder, salt, pepper, and water. I brought the whole thing to a boil, then into a 250 degree oven with the lid on. Nothing happened quickly however. After 75 minutes, the beans were still hard, but softening. It took two more hours for them to get just right.

So what went wrong? I may have put in too much water because I never had to add more and I took the lid off for the last half hour to let some of the water evaporate and the meat on the top crisp a little. But I don't see how too much water would affect anything. I did but the beans yesterday, but didn't check the pack-date. So they may have been old. Should I have added a little baking soda?

Bode

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I wouldn't add any acids, sugars or salt until the beans have "given up" and are clearly on the road to softening. I've added salt to fresh beans and there was no problem but the acids and sugars aren't a good idea. So this would include tomatoes, wine and molasses. Does mustard have acid?

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"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 imagine if you're using a prepared mustard made with vinegar, it's plenty acidic.

I've had similar problems, and I don't really feel like doing all the necessary experiments to rule various additives in and out, so I just cook the beans plain with water and salt until they're al dente, then I add whatever needs to be added.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I believe BeJam said he added mustard powder, which wouldn't have any vinegar involved... The only thing I can think of is old beans?

On a happier note, I just made cannelinis again with this method, and once again, worked great. Brought to a boil, hour and forty minutes in the oven, then I left them in the water but out of the oven for another 10 minutes or so... Mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, lots of pepper, and a little feta -- mmmmmmmmmm. So good!

Emily

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I had a disappointing failure last night.  Well, not really disappointing because the beans came out alright, it just took about three hours.  I added bacon, a pork chop, an onion, a little molasses, some mustard powder, salt, pepper, and water.  I brought the whole thing to a boil, then into a 250 degree oven with the lid on.  Nothing happened quickly however.  After 75 minutes, the beans were still hard, but softening.  It took two more hours for them to get just right. 

So what went wrong?  I may have put in too much water because I never had to add more and I took the lid off for the last half hour to let some of the water evaporate and the meat on the top crisp a little.  But I don't see how too much water would affect anything.  I did but the beans yesterday, but didn't check the pack-date.  So they may have been old.  Should I have added a little baking soda?

Mine took 2 hours, and I just had a few shallots and bay leaves in the mix.

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Right, I added mustard powder, not a prepared mustard. But I did add molassas in the begining. So maybe I'll try again and add the sugars at the end as they finish up.

Bode

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Okay... On a slightly indelicate note... Has anyone else noticed increased.... Gassiness... :blink: with this method versus the soak overnight method? Because I think I have, but need to do the soak overnight method soon to directly compare... Then again, may just buy some beano...

Emily

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just for the record, soaking does next to nothing for gassiness. that's caused by the modern human gut not being engineered a) to digest certain complex sugars in the beans; and b) to digest foods that are high in fiber. soaking doesn't draw out an appreciable amount of the sugars for the simple reason that beans are designed NOT to leach out those sugars since they are what the seed would need to grow a plant (and soaking is the first stage of germinating, right?). hot soaking does a little better, but only about 10% of the sugars are removed. beano does work a lot better on this specific problem--it's the enzyme that dissolves those sugars--but it does nothing for the second issue, fiber. the only cure for that is eating more beans--your gut will adapt.

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I followed the no-soak method for dry corona beans last night, and they are still pretty crunchy after two full hours in a 250º oven. Their taste is fine, but I was planning to serve with Paula Wolfert's Pork Coddled in Olive Oil, although they may be a better candidate to become the base of a cassoulet or some other concoction that would continue their cooking. Any suggestions? (Or will these beans never get beyond the crunchy stage? I bought them packaged off the shelf, so they could be older than Methusalah for all I know!)

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  • 2 weeks later...
It seems that in the past few years there have been a few monumental revelations of the "everything you thought you knew about cooking was wrong" variety. Most recently, the no-knead bread discussion, triggered by Mark Bittman's article in the New York Times, shattered the myth of kneading.

For me, however, the most significant revelation came in 2004 when we had a lengthy discussion regarding dried beans, where it was revealed that soaking beans is a waste of time. For this the world owes Russ Parsons a debt of gratitude. I fear the 2004 topic was so long and covered so much ground, however, that the no-soak, in-oven method of cooking beans may have gotten buried.

So, I would like to propose for 2007 a topic singularly devoted to the method of cooking beans in the oven without soaking. This is that topic.

I'm going to kick it off by giving a rundown of the method, derived from the Parsons method, that has been working very well for me. And remember, you don't soak the beans. You just cook them. It really works. I know, most of us were told all our lives that beans have to be soaked. It's not true. You can decide a couple of hours before dinner that you want beans, and you can have them. And if you cook them this way, they actually come out better:

- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

- You'll need a pot with a tight-fitting lid. The one I use is a 5-quart saucier similar in appearance to this one, though the one I have is different (mine has a glass lid, which is great for this purpose because you don't have to open the lid to see what's going on).

- The beans I've been buying come from Bob's Red Mill and come in strangely sized packages. For example, the Great Northern Beans come in a package of 1 pound 11 ounces. Other beans they sell come in different configurations. So I've never come up with a reliable formula for water. I just go with the plan of emptying the beans into the pot, and covering with cold water to about an inch and a half above the beans. Sometimes I need to add a little water later. Usually not.

- I don't rinse, sort or do anything like that with the beans. I just do a quick visual inspection. I've found that beans from modern packers are clean and don't have any rocks. When I add the water, sometimes a couple of unfortunate, misshapen or broken beans float to the top. I throw those out.

- I don't pour boiling water over the beans. It's an extra pot or kettle that I don't need to deal with. I just add cold water to the beans, cover and bring everything to a boil on the stovetop.

- I add about a tablespoon of salt to a 1.75 pound batch of beans before cooking. Yes, another myth shattered: the salt doesn't harm the beans, and in fact makes them taste much better.

- Once the beans reach a boil, put the whole pot, covered, into the pre-heated 250-degree oven. Set your timer for 75 minutes (1 hour 15 minutes). That's right. This will in most cases take only about 1 hour 15 minutes for beautifully cooked, slightly al dente beans. When you add in the boiling time on the stovetop, it's about 90 minutes for the whole process start to finish.

- After about 40 minutes, inspect the beans. They may at this point be absorbing more water than you thought they would, in which case you should add some boiling water (thus, you will need a kettle if that happens). While you're in there, give them a stir. (The first time you use this method, you'll want to inspect more often, until you get the hang of the water ratio.)

- Seriously, after about 75 minutes your beans will be done. Once in awhile you get a freak batch of beans and they need to go longer, however I've done this many times and only had one such incident, with a bag of beans that had been languishing in the back of the cabinet and was probably 4-5 years old.

That's it. Russ Parsons's gift to humanity. Go forth and soak no more.

Well, I had a total, total failure. I used Great Northern Beans bought from the bin at Wild Oats, after being assured they buy in small batches and have fresh beans. I live in Denver, so the lower temperature at which water boils may have had something to do with it. But they NEVER DID get done. After three hours, when they were still like rocks, I threw them out. What could have gone wrong?

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I'm not so sure this is going to fly for all types of beans, either. I've been making baked beans for years and even when I soak and boil the little navy buggers for a considerable amount of time before putting them in the oven, they take over four hours to soften up at 250. There's definitely plenty of acid in the recipe, though.

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Hee. I now feel totally vindicated, as I almost never have remembered to soak beans before cooking, and have very seldom bothered to do the quickie-shortcut business with bringing the beans to a boil in water and then letting them sit for an hour before proceeding.

That said, I have previously whined in other topics about how I don't care for the flavor of most beans I cook. Having read this topic, I'm now thinking that my usual methods of cooking beans--stovetop, either in a regular pot or a pressure-cooker--might be beating up on them too harshly, and this gentle low-and-slow oven method (or crockpot equivalent) might serve me better. Yet another cooking experiment to add to the list ...

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