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Everything You Need To Know About Cooking Beans

Let’s talk about beans.  Beans are the large seeds from plants of the fabaceae family,  they are also known as legumes in different places around the world.  Like so many things in life, beans come in many different shapes and sizes, they also have different favours and textures.  Some are smooth and creamy, some are firm and mealy, not all beans were created equally.

Buying Beans

There are a few ways you can buy your beans, depending on what type of bean you are after, what you are making, and how much time you have.

Canned beans:  If you’re in a hurry to eat your beans, this is the way to buy ‘em.  Most beans are available in cans.  There is no easier or faster way to get your beans,  they’re already cooked and ready to go.  The only thing you need to keep in mind when using canned beans is that you should rinse them well before you use them, unless otherwise noted in the recipe you are following.

Dried beans:  If you’re not in a mad hurry to get your bean fix, or you can’t find the type of bean you need in a can, dried beans are the way to go.  As with everything you buy from the food store, the more work the store does for you the more money you pay.  Cook your own beans!

Canned beans are by no means expensive but if you want to pay even less, dried is the best.  The good news:  Cooking beans is easy peasy, nothing to it!

Everything You Need To Know About Cooking Beans

Nutrition of Beans

Boy oh boy!  Beans do a lot for us.  Protein, carbohydrates, iron, calcium, folate, and fiber, are all packed in the mighty bean.  What more could we ask for?  Let’s take a look at two of the nutrients in beans, protein and fiber.

While the specifics vary slightly between different types, per 1 cup of cooked beans there are between 13-16 grams of protein!  So for those worried about protein, eat your beans!

Fiber, as most of us know, is natures broom.  Since fiber cannot be digested by our bodies it goes right through us, sweeping out all the yucky stuff from our digestive track as it goes.  Beans are a great source providing around 8-12 grams of fiber per one cup cooked.  Lima and black eyed beans on the high end of this scale.

Stay regular, regularly eat your beans!

How to Cook Dried Beans?

Once you take your beans home, you’ll need to know how to cook ‘em. Don’t worry its not hard.  The process is in three steps: Soak, Rinse, Boil Here’s some step by step instructions.

First you need to soak your beans.  Fill a large pot with 4 times as much water as the amount of beans you want to cook.  So If you want to cook 2 cups of beans add 8 cups of water.  Any temperature is fine.  Let the beans soak 6-8 hours, overnight is best.  The beans will absorb a lot of water, make sure there’s lots available.

Second you need to rinse your beans.  Well not much to say here, just rinse the beans in cold water.  This is an important step, never use the water you soaked the beans in for cooking.

Third you need to boil your beans.  Put your beans in a pot with plenty of fresh water, (not the water you soaked them in), and bring up to a slow simmer.  Different beans will take different times. Basically, simmer them until they are soft.  Cooking times will naturally vary.

Lima Beans,  1½ hours
Baby Lima ,  1 hour
Pink Beans,  1 hour
Red Kydney, 1½ – 2 hours
Black (Turtle),  1½ hours
Black eyed beans,  45 minutes
Garbanzo beans (chick peas),  1½ hours
Pinto beans, 2 hours
Great Northern Beans, 1 hour
Soy beans, 3 – 4 hours
Navy beans, 1½ – 2 hours

Chef’s Tip:  Don’t add salt to your beans while you are cooking them, it will only  make them tough.  Instead add the seasonings at the end of your  recipe. This is a good practice for any recipe.  In chef training you are taught to adjust the seasoning at the end.

Uh oh!  You forgot to soak your beans last night.  Fear not. There’s a way to quick soak them.  It works in a pinch.  Once again put the beans in plenty of water (4 times higher than the beans) then bring the pot to a boil.  Keep at a rolling boil for 3 minutes, then turn off the burner and leave covered for 1 hour.  Follow the remaining rinse and boil steps.  You may have to cook the beans longer in the third step.