This topic comes up on the list every year or so and I remember
reading that you shouldn't add baking soda to the beans. I can't
remember the reason though.
Someone suggested adding a strip of kombu (a type of seaweed that can
be purchased in a health food store) to the cooking pot. You can leave
it in for a few minutes while the beans are cooking. It will break
down if you don't remove it but if you are cooking light colored beans
or if you don't want little bits of green, you should remove it. I
don't have a feeling for how it works or when the best time to put it
in but I put it in once the beans have started creating the frothy
stuff. The kombu I buy does have a saltyness to it so you may not need
to add as much salt to the beans.
Also, make sure you don't add salt until the beans are almost done
cooking. Adding it earlier is supposed to yield tougher beans.
Here's a yummy, and easy bean recipe. The only downside is that it
takes a long time to cook. It might be possible to make this in a
Tuscan White Beans
Modified from "The New Vegetarian Epicure"
by Anna Thomas.
These beans are very versatile. They can be:
pureed for soup
served warm or room temp. as an appetizer
put on a salad
(arugula + balsamic + beans + black pepper = yummmmm)
added to a pasta dish (maybe with some roasted red pepper?)
used in place of canned white beans in many recipes
Tuscan White Beans
1 lb small white beans, soaked at least 8 hours
peeled cloves from a whole head of garlic
bunch of fresh whole sage leaves (save a few leaves
1 piece kombu (I used a piece that was about 5"x5"
when stretched out)
1 or 2 tsp salt
If garlic cloves have any sign of green sprouts, slice in half
and remove the sprout.
Put beans, garlic, sage in pot.
Add water to cover by about an inch.
Bring to a boil.
Lower heat to small light
Stir gently only a few times while cooking. If you stir
too much you will end up with mush. Let cook
until beans start to get soft. This could take
a few hours. Add water if it all cooks away.
When beans are a bit soft, add the salt and let cook
till beans are soft but still holding their shape.
All parts are edible but you may want to remove the sage leaves
if you are going to puree the beans for a soup. You can add new
leaves which will look a bit nicer.