Go soak your beans! successful soaking methods

Yield: 1 servings

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Perhaps no other factor in bean cookery is more controversial than whether beans should be soaked, and if so, how to soak them properly before cooking. "What??", you say, "Soak the beans?" Perhaps you've been cooking them for years without soaking because many cooks do, but it's a fact that before those beans can really start cooking, they must rehydrate--the purpose of soaking.

Since a bean contains only about 15% moisture in the dry form and rehydrates to about 60% moisture when fully cooked, you can see it has to soak up a lot of water. If you fail to soak the beans first, some of your cooking time (and energy expense) is wasted while the beans rehydraate. So our recommendation is, SOAK the beans first--especially the denser varieties such as kidneys, pinks and small whites.

Another important factor about soaking beans is that if you use the preferred hot-soak method described ([below]), and let the beans soak for at least four hours before pouring off the soak water, you should find the beans cause less problems in your digestive tract. During the hot-soak process, many of the undigestible, soluble sugars in beans (a partial cause of gas problems) are dissolved into the soak water and go down the drain with the water. Afraid of throwing away some valuable nutrients? Don't be. Scientists tell us that no significant amounts of essential nutrients are lost. Further, the protein and carbohydrates, the main nutritional reason people eat beans in the first place, are not disturbed. And certainly, for most people the discomfort avoided and the improvement in flavor gained by discarding the soak water are much more important than the insignificant loss of nutritional benefits.

For each pound of California dry beans, any variety, add 10 cups hot water. Remember, beans will rehydrate to at least twice their dry size, so be sure to start with a large enough pot. (Note: Up to 2 teaspoons of salt per pound of beans may be added to help the beans absorb water more evenly.) Heat to boiling, let boil two to three minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for at least one hour.

(Quick-Soak Method), but preferably four hours or more. The longer soaking time is recommended to allow a greater amount of sugars to dissolve, thus helping the beans to be more easily digested. Whether you soak the beans for an hour or several hours, discard the soak water.

From "Cooking with California Dry Beans" published by the California Dry Bean Advisory Board, 531-D North Alta Avenue, Dept. CB, Dinuba, CA 93618.

Posted by Michael Prothro KOOK-NET :þ Mike's Resort BBS, Fayetteville,AR,(501)521-8920þ

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