How to cook dry beans.

How to cook Dry Beans

Beans are a type of legume. they are a good source of protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They are also relatively inexpensive and easy to cook. Beans are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of cuisines. here is how to cook dry beans.

Are beans healthy food?

Beans are a very healthy food, rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, and a form of starch called resistant starch, which is proven to be very beneficial for gut health. I have been involved with research on resistant starch for almost 20 years so dry beans are a food of great interest to me. Beans contain the highest level of resistant starch.

Step-by-step process of how to cook dry beans

Soaking Beans

Soaking beans allows the dried beans to absorb water, which begins to dissolve the starches that cause intestinal discomfort. While beans are soaking they are also doubling to tripling in their size. Pick through the beans, discarding any discoloured or shrivelled beans or any foreign matter.

  1. Rinse the beans well.
  2. Soak beans with one of these methods:

Hot Soak. In a large pot, add 10 cups of water for each 2 cups of dry beans. Heat to boiling; boil for 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and soak for up to 4 hours. Hot soaking is the preferred method since it reduces cooking time, helps dissolve some of the gas-causing substances in beans, and most consistently produces tender beans.

Quick Soak. This is the fastest method. In a large pot, add 6 cups of water for each 2 cups of dry beans. Heat to boiling; boil for 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and soak for at least 1 hour.

Traditional Overnight Soak. This is the easiest method. Place dry beans in a large container; for each 2 cups of beans, add 10 cups of cold water. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Drain and rinse beans soaked by either method with fresh, cool water.

Brining beans

Brining beans involves the same process as soaking in plain water except the brine contains a low concentration of salt. During brining the sodium ions slowly exchange with calcium ions that are part of a very large molecule called pectin. Pectin strengthens the cell walls in the beans, and calcium strengthens pectin. So natural pectin can produce skins on the outside of dry beans that are difficult to soften and expand and can eventually burst when the inside of the beans becomes overcooked. Exchanging sodium for calcium ions during brining weakens the pectin so the skins become more flexible and can expand without bursting as the interiors cook to a soft creamy interior.

Baking Soda

The addition of baking soda to the cooking water does two things: It adds sodium ions that weaken the pectin as explained above, and more importantly, an alkaline environment causes the pectin molecules to break down into smaller molecules that greatly weaken the pectin causing the beans to soften much more rapidly. Beans cooked with a tiny amount of baking soda (about one teaspoon per cup of dry beans) added to the cooking water cook in about half the time as beans cooked without.

Baking beans in the Oven

baking beans in the oven provides much more control compared with cooking on the stovetop. Beans cooked in the oven are exposed to more consistent milder heat producing beans that are more consistently cooked with creamy soft interiors and tender intact skins. Also, since beans physically absorb water as they soak and cook, adding water-soluble flavouring ingredients to the water (or brine) increases the flavour of the beans. Thus crushed garlic, onion, thyme, mustard, rosemary, sugar, molasses, and bay leaves added to the soaking and/or cooking water will add flavour to the beans.

Cooking Beans

Cooking the beans makes them edible and digestible. Use cooked beans in your favourite recipes or refrigerate beans in shallow containers if they are to be eaten later. Freeze any extra beans within 4 days after cooking them. Beans can be cooked by using the stovetop or a multicooker/pressure cooker.

Related: How to make Kikomando at Home

Stovetop Instructions

  1. Place beans in a large pot; cover with fresh water and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently until beans are tender but firm. Most beans will cook in 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the variety. Periodically, try a taste test or mash a bean against the side of the pot with a fork or spoon. Check occasionally if you need to add more water. Here are the approximate cooking times for beans

Also Read: All about protein foods.

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