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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Beans

How to make the best home cooked beans from scratch.

I really like beans, I could eat them 3 times a day and not get tired of them.  But how to cook them and get them soft and creamy is something that took me 40 years to learn, so I thought I'd pass it along.

First of all, they must be soaked at least overnight.  Of course you can short circuit this by blanching them, then changing the water, then cooking, but the overnight soak is necessary to eliminate the antinutrients that are in the skin of the beans.  The antinutrients are there to keep the seed from sprouting while it is dry and in storage.  If you eat too many of them, they will interfere with the absorption and utilization of minerals in your body.  All seeds have these, and it is the reason our ancestors knew enough to mill the hull off seeds before grinding them.  It is why we eat white rice and white flour, it is better for us.

Second, you must use soft water.  Beans will never completely soften if they are cooked in hard water.  There must be no minerals in the soak or cook water, this means don't add salt until the cooking is finished.  Since the water here is very hard, I just buy distilled water in gallons at the grocery store.  You can add any flavoring you want to the bean pot like ham hocks, etc., but don't add salt until the cooking is finished.

Third, can them up.  It is why beans are always better out of a can or jar.  The beans are good right out of the pot, but since I don't want a big pot of them in the fridge that needs to be eaten up, I can them.  I cook up 3 pounds at a time which makes 5- 6 quarts of cooked beans.  I only use water since I want to flavor the beans in different ways when we use them.  There is nothing in my jars except beans and distilled water.  Beans need to be pressure canned at 10 pounds for 90 minutes.  That is a lot, but the processing really sets the flavor, and makes the beans creamy and delicious.  We bought our pressure canner for using in the summer with garden produce, but it gets used all year long now, and is one of the best tools we have ever bought.

My favorite kind of beans.  We like hummus, so I make a lot of chick peas.  They are very good, and won't cook down to mush.  The flavor after canning is wonderful.  I also like pintos, but my favorite is called Mayo Coba, and is from Peru.  They are available in many grocery stores and are a white bean, but unlike Great Northerns or Navy Beans retail their shape and texture.  The flavor is out of this world.