One of us wrote: "I was taught to put a pinch of baking soda in my beans
so that they =
would get soft."
This is not a good idea. I chemist aquaintance told me that there is some
sort of undesireable chemical reaction between beans and baking soda. The
baking soda leaches all of the nutrients from the beans.
I have been cooking with beans for decades ( am I grown up enough to think
of my life in terms of decades now? oh my!!) and there are a few tips I'd
love to share.
Soak the beans overnight....in a cool place. Here in San Diego that often
means the refrigerator. Letting them soak in a warm place means that they
will begin to ferment. Fermentation results in flatulence and most people
object to that aspect of beans.
Cook the beans slowly. I have learned that a long slow cooking period is
much better than a hot, fast cooking. I use the crock pot. Or I use the
stove, but at a long slow simmer. People sometimes use a hot fast boil as
a substitute for a cool soak overnight. I personally have not found this
to be effective as the few times I have tried this, my beans turned to mush
I find I prefer to have my beans completely cooked before I start adding
anything to them. Any falvorings added to beans while they are still in
the cooking interfers with the beans cooking completely. So I cook up
quantites of beans, freeze them in 1 cup portions and remove what I need
for a recipe. Then and only then do I add any flavorings. If the recipe
allows for a cooking time for the beans, such as soup or chili, I simply
ignore that instruction. I cook until flavors meld together.
***Under no circumstances ever use salt at any point in cooking beans.***
If salt is used, even after the beans are cooked and then added to a
recipe, the beans will toughen up. Please save the salt for the table.
Personally, I don;t like my beans to be soft. I prefer them al dente,
cooked but with a bit of tooth to them <g>.
Gloriamarie, writing to you where San Diego's Perpetually Perfect Weather
"The moral is, build up that stash. You never know when you're
going to need to knit a scarf for the Dalai Lama." Jean Miles, Edinburgh