Beans, Beans, the musical fruit…

But I like the toots….NOT!

The following isn’t about taking out the toots, its about cooking dried beans correctly and how tomatoes and salt can be a problem if you add either too early….

The following article came from the Washington Post:

14 Things to Know About Cooking Beans

It’s taken a long time, but a few years ago, I finally got to a place where cooking a pot of dried beans didn’t make me run for the hills. Much of my education is based on trial and error, with a little help from bean experts such as Rancho Gordo’s Steve Sando. During my schooling, I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in bean interest not only because they’re a cheap form of protein but because they’re good for you. (Hello, fiber, amino acids and calcium!) Below, the 411 on cookin’ beans based on the lessons I’ve learned and secrets whispered to me along the way.


1. The general rule of thumb is to soak beans for at least four hours. Scoff all you like, but those beans will take forever and a day to cook otherwise.

2. Types of beans that require no soaking whatsoever: Lentils, split peas and mung beans, all of which have a thin skin and are softer from get-go.

3. Type of bean for which there are not enough hours in the day to soak: garbanzos. Estimate an overnight soak, plus a full day at the office before even considering cranking up the stove.

4. When even soaking doesn’t even make a dang bit of difference: Your beans are old and have been improperly stored. (Heat and light have a degenerative effect.)

Unfortunately, there’s no way of deciphering the age of a bag of beans on the supermarket shelf, which is why I urge bean lovers across America to explore the world of heirloom beans – older, wiser and brimming with personality, yet generally sold within one year of harvest, which in the dried bean world is a pretty fresh bean. Check out the online offerings at Rancho Gordo (see link above), whose 20-plus varieties of freshly harvested beans have revolutionized the way I think about and cook with beans.

5. For a soak to be effective, cover beans with about three inches of water and keep an eye on water level, if possible. Beans do drink the water.

6. In summer and in warmer climes, soak beans in the fridge to avoid sprouting or even fermentation. I’ve seen this happen in my own kitchen.

7. Bring up to a hard boil, for five minutes. This little trick hastens the cooking.

8. But then, cook at a simmer, mostly covered. If the heat is up too high, the beans tear and look unsightly. They also tend to cook on the outside, but not on the inside.

9. Cooking liquid level should be one to three inches above the beans. Liquid will reduce during cooking, so be vigilant. Several inches of water not only increases cooking time, it dilutes the flavor of the beans.

10. Cook beans mostly nude — as in without seasoning. I know this seems counterintuitive, but beans, for the most part, need to be left alone in the pot and do their thing. Flavorings such as a bay leaf, a cinnamon stick, star anise pod, herb sprigs are acceptable as they are relatively non-intrusive, while gently infusing flavor.

11. When beans are just about tender, start seasoning with your favorite stuff – onions, garlic, bell pepper, chiles, etc. If you add this stuff at the beginning, it’s not a tragedy, but if you add acid — tomatoes, vinegar, citrus — you do have a situation. Those beans will take forever to cook.

12. Salt at the end, just before serving. Beans will turn into rocks and never soften if you salt early. Trust me on this one. How much salt is up to you. Try one teaspoon per pound of beans at first, then taste a few times. Add more if necessary.

13. Try sauteing onions, garlic and other aromatics in a separate skillet. Add herbs and ground spices too. The heat of the oil stimulates your masala and when poured into the soup pot will have an amped-up effect.

14. If you heed my advice, a pot of beans should take, on average, about two hours. If you’re on hour three and your beans are nowhere near done, you may want to call it a night and pull the plug. I’m not one to give up, but with beans there is a point of no return — particularly if you’re still simmering with Letterman.

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