|-Waldine Van Geffen VGHC42A|
How many beans to serve how many? As a rough rule, a pound of dried legumes will yield 8 moderate servings. Getting them ready: Spread beans on a big pan or plate and pick out any rubbish-especially small pebbles-and broken beans. Rinse in a colander. To soak or not? Lentils don't need to be soaked and neither do split peas. All other dried legumes need soaking, especially if they have spent some time on the shelf. Soaking how-tos: The basic way: Cover with water to twice the depth of the beans and leave for 4 hours (most kinds) or up to 24 hours, with changes of water, for fava beans or other tough-skinned types. Drain, then cook in fresh water. Quick-soaking or parboiling: Cover with plenty of water, bring to boiil and boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside, covered for 1 hour. Drain and cook in fresh water. Cooking: This varies widely among beans. The newest crop may cook in as little as half the time needed by long-stored beans.
The rule is to cook beans at a gentle simmer, partly covered, until a sample is tender to the tooth. Depending on bean kind and age, this may take as little as 45 minutes or as long as 3 hours; fava beans may need even longer. When to salt: Wait until the beans are tender.
Salting before that point will toughen them permanently. (wrv)
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