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Quick Guide: Preparing and Cooking Dried Beans

Quick Guide: Preparing and Cooking Dried Beans

Some of you may be very familiar with cooking with dried beans. For those of you who are not, we have a few suggestions:


1. Rinse your beans

Before you begin cooking, rinse your beans and remove any debris. No one likes eating rocks:)

    2. Soak your beans

    There's a lot of conflicting information about whether to soak or not. We like to soak and here's why:
        • Better digestion - Some people have a hard time digesting beans (the gas is real). That's because beans have complex sugars called oligosaccharides. These starches get broken down during the soaking process. That being said, if you choose not to soak (or forget to) there is another way to reduce gas. Chefs Joe Yonan and Amy Chaplin both recommend adding a Japanese seaweed, called Kombu, to the pot while cooking your beans. 
        • Reduced cooking time - If your beans are freshly harvested, like beanstory beans, this will matter less but it will still make a small difference. If you don't know when your beans were harvested - in other words, if you purchased your beans in the bulk section of the grocery store - soaking overnight could reduce your cooking tie by as much as a third.
        • Consistency of texture - We think our beans cook more evenly after we've soaked them. Some cooks disagree. We're OK with that. We're going to keep soaking. 
        • For the ritual - Like baking sourdough bread, the long act of preparing our beans by soaking them created a deeper connection to the experience of eating them. 

      If, like us, you decide to soak, submerge your beans with enough water and let them sit! If you want to go the extra mile, we suggest adding salt (1 tbsp per 1lb of beans) to create a brine and further help decrease cooking by softening skins.


      3. Cook your beans (stovetop method)

      If you simply want to get your beans from dry form to cooked form (whether to eat plain or in a recipe), follow these tips:
          • Rinse your beans (whether soaked or not). Add them to a pot and cover with 2 inches of water.
          • Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer and cover or partially cover the pot, depending on how tender you want them. Beans that cook uncovered tend to keep their shape - great for salads, etc. Beans that are covered, get a bit softer- great for dips, etc. 
          • Add salt once beans are tender. Now, there's a lot of debate here too. When is the best time to salt? There are no hard-fast rules, but we like to salt at the end of the process, to have better flavor control, but this is up to you. 


        There are countless recipes for beans, if you want to go beyond the basic recipe shared above. But if you don't have one in mind, a simple pot of brothy beans is always a great way to go. It's the way we most often cook up a pot of beans. See our One-Pot Brothy Beans recipe for more. And visit our recipe page for more bean inspiration. 


        NYT CookingBon AppetitEpicuriousFood & WineLove & Lemons

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