I finally did it!…


Finally, after nearly a decade, I’ve accomplished the apparently impossible…

I’ve made dried beans that are actually tender!

For years, seriously it’s been a decade or more, I’ve been attempting and failing at making dried beans.

Everyone says, It’s so easy! I was feeling really inept. I just couldn’t get my dried beans to work. I tried the quick soak method, the overnight soak method, with salt, without salt… on and on… The beans never got tender enough.

This week, I was on a mission. I will make beans tender!

The bean package says that it only takes 8 hours overnight soaking and 1.5-2 hours cooking… this has never worked for me.

I decided to try something different. I took half a bag of dried black beans, I put them in a big bowl of water and let them soak for 15 hours, changing out the water 3-4 times. Then I put them on the stove with fresh water (plus 2 bay leaves, kombu, and some salt) they cooked 6+ hours! They were more tender than previous attempts, but not as tender as I wanted.

Now I was angry. Seriously, 15 hours soaking and 6+ hours cooking??? I decided that if I was going to cook those suckers for 6+ hours, I might as well put them in a slow cooker.

So that’s exactly what I did. I went out and found a cute little 2 Qt slow cooker ($11 at target).

I soaked the other half of the dried black beans for about 12 hours (changing out the water a few times). I put them in the slow cooker with fresh water (plus 2 bay leaves and kombu [no salt this time]). I put the slow cooker on high for 30 minutes, then lowered it to low… and let them cook for 6 hours… I tasted them and they still needed some more time… I gave them another two hours (8 hours total).

The were more tender, but the main thing is that I didn’t have them on the stove for 6+ hours. Not to mention that in the slow cooker, I could forget about them and go about my day. Plus, it doesn’t seem to have mattered whether I put salt in or not, it didn’t lessen the cooking time.

But here’s the kicker
… I still wanted the beans more tender. So I put both batches back in the slow cooker the next day and let them cook an additional 8 hours.

Now, you might be thinking, the beans are mush. Right?

I was thinking I might have over done it too. But the scary thing is that after 16 hours of cooking the beans are finally at the tenderness I wanted and they still have structure to them!

Crazy!!! 16 hours of cooking! Finally, now I know, it’s not me. Beans done in 2 hours is BS.

Let me put a disclaimer here, that the beans did say best by Oct 22, 2011… so I guess the beans are a year old? But what I’m excited about is that the slow cooker is going to make preparing dried beans so much easier. Now an overnight soak and and an all day slow cooker simmer should yield me a nice batch of tender beans.

Finally, the code is cracked. A slow cooker is the answer.

What culinary challenge has eluded you for years?

Until next time…
~nic

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7 thoughts on “I finally did it!…

  1. They must be wonderful beans with an incredible taste and huge health benefits for it to be worth 16 hours of cooking time. I think I would have gone with that fine looking salad and rice on their own. I admire your forbearance.

    • Conor – They are actually quite tasty. But the main thing I was trying to do was finally get the darn beans tender. Everyone says it’s so easy to make dried beans, yet I’ve never been able to get them to not be crunchy. The 16 hours was a bit much, I’ll admit, and hopefully future bags of beans won’t take more than 6-8 hours to cook, but the beans are quite tender and not mushy. So yeah, this time it was worth it. I’m not sure anyone would be willing to make something that takes 16 hours. Heh.

  2. nic – I like dried beans, all kinds. Black, kidney, pinto and great northern are the ones we have periodically. My mom use to cook beans on the stove in a pot, and then she use to cook beans in a pressure cooker (but you have to be careful with this…….). The best way that i have found to cook beans is using a slow cooker. I look the beans for rocks, dirt clod and broken beans. Then i rinse them twice. I put the beans in the slow cooker with water about an inch over them. Turn on the slow cooker on high. Stir occationally and check on them. I then do laundry or housework, and they are done in about 4 hours. Just keep the lid on they and have it on high. No need to soak. They come out tender but firm. Hope this helps to cut down on the time…… : D Pam

    • Pam – Thanks, I’ve wondered how you make ‘brown beans’… I’ll have to try that next time. Since you don’t presoak the beans, how does the gassiness fair? I thought presoaking overnight was to reduce the gassiness by something like 60%.

  3. nic – Since i don’t soak the beans I really don’t have a way of comparing. But, Frank says that if you eat rice with the beans , that you will not have a problem…….. : ) pam

  4. Pingback: Study Weekend… « The Auspicious Squirrel

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