How to Cook Dried Legumes

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K A

Baking Soda ??

I read many recipe that asks you to boil the beans with baking soda and some spices?? I never used it because it doesn't make sense !! but I think it has something to do with speeding up the process .

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Baking Soda

I have also heard of this but there is still some debate as to whether or not it is actually helpful. Some say it added to soften the water, others say it makes the beans less gassy.

For me I don't think I would like the added flavor from the baking soda as it can sometimes add a soapy note to dishes.

There are some that say it works though...here is a link from wisegeek about just this topic.

http://www.wisegeek.com/will-adding-baking-soda-to-beans-prevent-flatulence.htm

Dorin v. B

Soaking

Soaking equals no gases? :D That's new,but totally useful.I'm going to test this :)

Jason H

soaking and sprouting

Has anyone heard of sprouting the beans after rinsing? Adds more nutrients and vitamins.

Divina C

Sprouting

Hi Jason,

Sprouting increases the activity of enzymes by 50-200 times, depending on the specific plant. Enzymes are essential catalysts for all the chemical reactions in your body - from digestion, immunity and all other metabolic and regenerative processes. Enzymes = Life. Probably the more appropriate term is "increase". Sprouting legumes including nuts and seeds increases its nutrient content (vitamins, minerals, protein). They are easier to digest and absorb into the body because they are raw and full of enzymes. You need to soak them for about 8-12 hours depending on the the type of legume you are using before sprouting for a few days.

You can check this website if are planning to do some sprouting.

http://www.chetday.com/sprouts.html

Mung beans are the easiest ones to sprout.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Sprouting

Here is a great blog post from Divina about sprouting. She even took pictures and everything.

http://sense-serendipity.blogspot.com/2009/03/mung-bean-sprouts.html

Thanks Divina :-)

Jane M

Freezing dried beans

We buy our beans in an open farmers market and they are not packaged in nice clean plastic bags. I usually put the newly purchased beans into the freezer for a few days as I was told this would kill any bugs. Then I take the bags out as needed. We eat some sort of legume almost every day. Would this freezing adversely affect the dried beans in any way?

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Freezing Dried Beans

Freezing dried beans you purchase at a farmer's market does help to kill any potential bugs, but according to this grower, it is recommended that they be removed from the freezer, dried further and then stored in jars (see heading on "Storage" about half way down the page). Dried beans last a very long time when stored in a dry, cool place, so it's not necessary to use up a lot of freezer space. Most foods that are frozen properly shouldn't be frozen for more than a year or so or they are likely to get freezer burn. Talk to the grower that you purchase the beans from - they will know how to guide you best on the type of bean you buy. Hope this helps.

Swati B

Knowing your lentils

I grew up in India and my mother cooked lentils and beans all the time. The only drawback is that I do not really know the names in English. For example, I don't know how a yellow split pea is different from the Indian "chana dal", or how to best cook Egyptian lentils or French green lentils because I'm more used to cooking split yellow lentils (that look orange and loose their texture fairly quickly). It would be great if Rouxbe did a lesson that focussed on introducing all the different typles of beans and lentils out there.

Joe  G
Rouxbe Staff

Different types of beans and lentils

Hi Swati. Good idea. However, I think we have a lot of higher priority lessons on our plate right now such as seasoning, roasting, cooking chicken, baking, plating, etc.

I'm wondering if anyone out there knows of a great resource or link to another site that might help us (image and text okay too). In fact, image and text might serve our purpose well as the cooking is already covered in this lesson.

Swati B

Researching ingredients

I completely understand. I was speaking about doing that eventually when all the more important aspects of cooking have been covered.

"Cooks Thesaurus" does a decent job with most ingredients actually, although it does not necessarily tell you what to do with the ingredients, and the description is short. "Cooks Thesaurus" can be found quite easily by doing a Google search for the site, or sometimes even by just typing in the name of the ingredient you are trying to research.

Sharon W

black beans

HI DAWN , IF YOU LIKE A DARK GRAVY TAKE BLACK BEAN MASH THEM AND ADD TO YOUR LIKEING, AND HELPS TO THICKEN AS WELL. TRY IT YOU WILL BE GLAD YOU DID.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Black Beans

Great idea about using the beans as a thickener. I love black beans, so I will try this...thanks!

Brian B

Converting measurements

Are there any rules of thumb for converting a measurement of canned beans to dried beans? I have some recipes that call for a 15oz can of beans, but I'd rather use dry.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Converting Measurements for Dried Beans

Here is a general guide:

A one-pound package of dry beans (about 2 cups) equals about 5 or 6 cups of cooked beans. Basically every 1/3 cup of dried beans will yield about 1 cup of cooked beans.

One 15 ounce can of (drained) cooked beans equals about 1 2/3 cups cooked beans (which will give you between 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of cooked beans).

So for a 15 oz can of dried beans you will likely need between 1/2 to 1/3 cup of dried beans.

You may also like to know that dried beans expand to about 2 1/2 times their original size when soaked.

Hope this helps!

Manille S

Conversion by weight

Hi Dawn!
Is there a rule of thumb when converting by weight? Does it work the same as volume measurements (ie: dry beans x 3)?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: weighing dried beans

Generally, about 2.5 cups will weigh about one pound but really, it
depends on the size and type of bean. Cheers!

Manille S

Dry beans

You mean I would need 2.5 cups of dried beans to make one pound of reconstituted beans? That seems like a lot..

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: weighing dried beans

Yes that is correct, but again this depends on the beans. Some will weight less, some more. Generally theta weight between 6 to 8 ounces per cup. Cheers.

Colleen S

Leaving Beans to Soak

What's the maximum length of time you would leave beans to soak in the refrigerator? i.e. How long can you store them that way after they have become plump?

Tony M
Rouxbe Staff

Soaking beans

Soaking beans overnight is plenty. After that they may begin to ferment in the water, and you'll notice the water become a bit slimy. One key if you intend to soak longer than usual is to change the water.

Colleen S

Beans Cracking Open...

What should I do if a lot of the beans crack open while soaking?

Does this mean the beans are old? Or not good for cooking anymore?

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Beans Cracking Open

It may be an indication that they are older or you could have possibly soaked them too long. Just go ahead and cook them, taste and see if they are ok to you. I'm sure they'll be fine. When you go to purchase more dried beans, make sure to buy them from a store with high turnover, so you know they aren't too old. Cheers!

Jerry B

Cooking beans for chili

Any hints for cooking beans to add to chili? I make my chili using chuck steak (not ground). I've been cooking the beans separately then incorporating them into the chili towards the end of the cooking process. It seems like an extra (and possibly unnecessary) step but I'm not that confident in my ability to time the cooking of the meat with the cooking of the beans.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Cooking Beans for Chili

Hard to give a definite answer as there are so many ways to do this. We prefer to cook the beans separately and flavor them accordingly with garlic, spices, etc.; while other cooks choose to add them to the mix near the beginning. Keep in mind though that any acidic ingredients or salt will slow down the cooking of the beans and may not result in the best texture. Cheers!

Connie H

connie123456

never thought of using beans as a thickener for gravy. i can tell you you sent my thoughts soring about all beans as a thicknener in soups as well as gravy. thank you

Connie H

connie123456

i always cook beans separately. for me this means my family and i will have beans and corn bread with fried potatos one night and with the left over beans its chili the next night.

Kevyn A

beans crack after an hour of soaking

I just started soaking white beans and after an hour a good many of them (maybe a cup or two) cracked. Do I toss them? Does it mean the beans were old? I bought them from a bin at Whole Foods.

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Cracked Beans

It may be an indication that the beans are older. I would go ahead and cook them anyway. Once cooked, taste them to see if they are ok to you. Let us know how they turn out. Cheers!

Shaden M

Fava beans tough skin

I soaked fava beans (small brown) for half a day and overnight in a garlic thyme and cardamon steeped soak. When I went to cook them about a handful had skins that had split. I didn't remove them thinking they were fine. I added salt halfway thru, after the beans gave a bit of resistance when being smashed with a finger. The skins are so tough that the beans feel inedible. I tried to keep cooking past the soft stage and now skins are till tough and beans have started to burst apart. I don't mind the beans being open because I was going to partially cream them but the skins are classically part of the dish (foul) which I'm trying to make. This is my second attempt same results. Could it be that the beans are bad? Or my cooking technique? Any help is really appreciated.

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Tough Skin on Fava Beans

Yes, dried fava beans have a tough outer skin that needs to be removed. Sometimes there are instructions on the package but sometimes not. The beans can be soaked long enough until the skins split and can then be peeled off prior to cooking. You can also do this after cooking but the beans will take longer to cook and can turn out mushy and be a messy process. This video shows shelling fresh fava beans so you'll see what needs to be removed. Hope this helps! Cheers!

Liz S

RE: Tough Skin on Fava Beans

My experience with dried fava beans was also very unsatisfactory. I used the large brown ones. After soaking overnight and simmering for hours I peeled the tough outer skins but the insides were inedible. It was a huge disappointment as the fresh ones are incredible (prepared the Rouxbe way) and my experience with other dried beans has been very good. I decided that perhaps some beans just don't taste that good when they have been dried and would never buy them again.

Lauren M

Thoughts on Oven-cooking the beans?

One cookbook I had suggested baking the beans in the oven. So I soaked them overnight, drained them, then added the water and aromatics and baked at 350. They came out OK, but a little overdone. I wonder if anyone has thoughts, experience or tips on oven baking. In principle, I thought the ideas was good so you don't have to watch them.

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Oven-cooking beans

Sounds interesting. I haven't tried cooking them in the oven. If you prefer this method, make sure to test earlier and often to achieve the perfect doneness. Cheers!

Mohammed A

Soaking vs. Brining

What is the difference between soaking and brining?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Soaking vs. Brining

Soaking and brining are very different. Soaking is generally done in water to rehydrate ingredients. While brining is done to add flavor and moisture. It is also done a salt solution. See the lesson on Brining for much more information on this. Cheers!

Mohammed A

Soaking vs. Brining

Can salt be added to the soaking water; in addition to flavor infusing aromatics?

Tony M
Rouxbe Staff

Soaking vs Brining

Some salt can be added, but there is a limit. Too much salt will toughen the skins. But a pinch won't hurt. If adding any aromatics, they first have to be simmered into the water, and cooled, otherwise adding aromatics to cold water will impart little to no flavor.

The key to getting flavor into the beans/legumes is in the cooking. The soaking is basically to facilitate the cooking and awaken its nutritional potential.

Jacob F

Fresh beans

What changes would I need to make for using fresh beans? I picked up some fresh colored butter beans at the farmers market this weekend and am wondering how I should cook them? I'm guessing that soaking would not be needed?

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Cooking Fresh Vegetables

No need to soak fresh beans before cooking them. Refer to the lessons on Submersion Cooking Methods, Steaming Vegetables (including the Steaming Intro & Basics lesson) as well as the lessons in the Vegetable section of the Cooking School for more information. You can simmer, blanch/saute, steam or roast them. The choice is up to you. If you search for "beans" in the search bar at the top right of any page and filter your search results to recipes, you will also find many ideas there. Cheers!

Juan jesus R

Cooking chickpeas

Hi,

I heard after soaking chickpeas they must be added to boiling water to cook them. I also heard it's better soak chickpeas in lukewater than cold water. True?

Thanks for your reply

Christophe K
Rouxbe Staff

Cooking/soaking

Many ways, all good. Soak in cold water in the fridge works best. Then cook them starting in cold water. A foam will form, just remove it. You can also soak in warm water, but be careful as the beans can ferment and go sour quickly. Alternatively, if you forget to soak them, which happens to me, bring the beans to a boil from cold water and then strain them. Then use them as if they were soaked overnight. Whichever method you use always disregard the soaking water.

Juan jesus R

Cooking/soaking

Thank you very much for your reply. Good to know the quick method :)

Laura C

Cooking lentils

I am used to work with beans because we use them widely in Mexican cooking however, lentils have somehow puzzled me a bit more, in particular the brown and puy varieties. The red and orange are easy to work with. In my experience, lentils soup (brown and puy) had always had a grainy or sandy like consistency that would persist no matter how long I cooked the lentils, a texture that dominated the soups. For what I know, this happens with beens when they are either under cooked or else, too old. Yet, I am not sure this is the case with lentils. I have found that none of the recipies or books that I have consulted address this characteristic, eventhough I have found this to be the case in lentil soups that I did not make. Could it be that it is just me who dislikes this situation? After various experiments, I came across the recommendation of brining the puy lentils with hot water and salt, then rinse them, bring them to rapid boil and then bake them in the oven. It took a while, but the result was the most wonderful consistency that I have ever found in lentils. Soft and moist skin and a deliciously velvety interior. Now, I use the lentils cooked this way to make my soup and the result cannot be compared to the brown lenitl soups I made before. Even my children devoured the soup and asked for more -there is more to the soup recipe than the oven cooking situation but that method made the greatest difference. I guess my question is, what was I doing wrong before? Were my lentils becoming water logged? I would appreciate your comments.

Christophe K
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Cooking Lentils

Puy lentils are highly regarded in cooking for holding their shape and firmness and not turning soft and mushy like many other lentils.

It looks like you found a good way to get them smooth and it seems to work for you. After all if your children ask for seconds...you can carry on of course. Yet in my opinion Puy lentils are better suited to add to salads and stews and other dish with the intention of having them whole and firm. Other lentils that you mentioned are ideal for soups as they cook faster and turn to a smooth puree more easily, not to mention that they are also much cheaper.

Just like you can use a chef's knife to bone a chicken, a boning knife does the job better. Hope that helps.

Geni P

Freezing Beans?

I'm cooking up a 1 lb. bag of great northern beans today. It's definitely more than I as a single person can consume in 5 days. I know other beans are frozen and we buy them that way. I'm wondering if I can wait until they are fully cooked or should I stop them when they are nearly done to freeze them? My plan would be to substitute them in recipes that call for canned beans.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Freezing Beans?

Indeed you can freeze beans. Cook the beans fully and then cool and freeze them. A good way to freeze them is to spread the beans out onto a tray and freeze them. Then once frozen, place into a bag or container. Hope that helps. Cheers!

Eva T

Water temperature and salting

As Juan Jesus mentioned, here in Spain it has always been said that chickpeas are the opposite of the rest of legumes. Here everyone soaks them in hot, if not boiling, salted water (sometimes with a pinch of baking soda for a softer texture) and then they are added to preheated water for cooking. Likewise, if any water is needed to top up the level, it must be added hot to not stop the cooking, otherwise they say they "encallan" meaning they stay hard and not soften well.

On the opposite end of cooking, white beans are brought to a boil from cold water and "se asustan" meaning that at least once through cooking they are "frightened" by adding cold water to stop the cooking momentarily for a softer more buttery end result. Also, the salt should is added at the end to avoid the skin hardening as you mention, though your solution of adding it halfway through makes more sense to me to fully seasoning them not just topically.

Have you heard of this before? Does this make any sense? Because I've been following these guidelines all my life and since I haven't attempted otherwise, I don't know if it is for a reason or just cultural superstition...guidelines without a scientific reason. I will look into McGee "On Food and Cooking" to see if he mentions anything! Just though you might be interested to hear and for me to hear your opinion to demistify!Thanks!

Ken R
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Water temperature and salting

Hi Eva- This is all very interesting. I agree that cooking chickpeas require different cooking (i.e. they can take heavy simmer) than other beans as they can be very tough and can take a long time to cook. Baking soda does indeed soften beans and legumes, but one must be careful as too much can lead to mushy beans. A little goes a long way. Chickpeas are less fragile than most other beans.

As for more tender or delicate beans, like white beans, then the start cold and bring to a boil makes great sense. As for adding additional cold water, I have not done this and I'm not sure it helps cooking any more than maintaining a low, simmer for the duration of the cooking time.

As for adding salt, I'm not sure salting early vs. later does much for texture either way. I tend to add a bit of seasoning during the cooking process and then season more thoroughly at the end of the cooking.

As for cultural superstition, there is oftentimes more truth than we might think behind deep cultural knowledge. Sometimes, old varieties or heirloom foods are a bit different than new varieties. In other cases, local water might be more or less acidic or alkaline (thus baking soda). Plus, cultural aesthetics also are dynamic (they change over time) so sometimes a bit softer or harder (in the case of beans) is what home cooks desire.

I hope this helps!

Eva T

Re: Water temperature and salting

Thanks Ken,

I think the reason behind soaking and starting with hot water for chickpeas might be that they are harder & sturdier as you say and beginning with hot just shortens time. Some friends tell me they start cooking from cold water and it works well as well, so it must not be a big deal. I do have to look into what happens if you add cold water to them while cooking as it is said that it spoils their creamy texture making them hard. I wonder if it is true and the scientific reason behind that.

As for salt...I will try seasoning half-way through a bit and the rest at the end to see the results. To be honest, many legumes are cooked with cured meats, which themselves season the water, so I doubt salt can be as bad as it is said leading to tougher skins?! The other day I made a "fabada"(traditional dish from Asturias region) and due to this I didn't have to add any further seasoning...so salt is there from scratch!

Will continue testing and learning...

Juan jesus R

Re: Water temperature and salting

Hi,

Interesting legumes discussion. About cooking chickpeas and beans, in Spain all these "rules" mentioned by Eva are "Gramma rules" and are "set in stone" -;)
About frightening beans if you have potatos in the recipe do not "frighten" the stew until potatos are cooked otherwise they will harden (encallar). If we think Gramma's beans stew was made probably in a wood or coal stove probably needed some water to cover the ingredients during a long time cooking and all of this rules are the result of trial and error during generations.

About salt, better at the end and If you add a "Spanish Serrano Jam bone" to the ingredientes you will get a particular flavour and it will almost season the stew.

Cheers!

Juan jesus R

Re: Water temperature and salting Ham instead Jam

Of course I was talking about a piece of Spanish Serrano "Ham" Bone.......

Sorry about that!

Best regards, JJ

Eva T

Re: Water temperature and salting

Ha, ha, ha sooo true! They are grandma rules & they are set in stone here! The problem is that you cannot dare to question them!! :) It's a relief to understand the reasoning behind some of those ideas.

The "encallar" or hardening of the potatoes you mention brings me to another doubt (which I should probably write in another thread, but since it's related)...why do they harden sooo much when adding tomato to the cooking liquid?Is it their acid? I've stopped adding tomato to many potato stews before adding the potatoes or parboiling them aside and then adding them precisely because of that. I thought it was another "myth" but it happens every time I do use tomato!

Ken R
Rouxbe Staff

Acid and Potatoes

Great observations- You are correct about the acid. Acid inhibits the activation of starches (gelatinization of starch, which is not related to gelatin) - so tomatoes will slow or even halt the rate at which potatoes (or other starches like carrots) cook through.

If you pre-cook the potatoes and start the process, they will tend to finish cooking in a slightly acid environment. Or just add the tomatoes later once the potatoes are cooked. I hope this helps!

Eva T

Acid and potatoes

Wow, so even other starches are affected by acid! When you say that the pre-cooked potatoes will finish cooking in a slightly acid environment, do you mean that it will work as they were started ahead or it may also slow or halt the remaining gelatinization of starch. I guess the best solution is as you suggest, to add the tomatoes after the potatoes are cooked..it's just that so many spanish recipes include "sofritos" (sweated mirepoix) with tomato at the beginning. But, it won't be difficult to modify that bit! Much better than waiting for neverending cooking of many stews! Thank you!:)

Juan jesus R

Re: Acid and Potatoes

Ok, that's why in some preparations with "sofrito" (onion, garlic, tomato and some times green or red peppers) we dice and broke potatos ("escachar") to get more startch and thicken the stew?

Best regards, JJ

Ken R
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Acid and Potatoes

Yes, but remember that alkaline water will diminish the action of the acid- so places with alkaline water might not have the same long cooking times. Sofritos are great for flavor development, but can hinder quick cooking of starchy foods. A touch of baking soda can be very useful indeed!

Juan jesus R

Re: Acid and Potatoes

Thanks a lot for the tips and suggestions.

Best regards, JJ

Je T

To skim or not to skim foam/scum off beans?

"When you boil beans and lentils they release chemicals from their tissues. These chemicals, often proteins, leach out as water boils, and the air that is 'dissolved' in the water when cold (cold water holds more dissolved gases than hot water) bubbles out, catches the proteins and floats to the surface, forming a foam.

Beans and lentils are the seeds of plants, and in order that the seeds get the best chance to grow into new plants, they are often packed full of toxins, poisons to prevent being eaten. This works well with herbivorous animals, but less well when you know how to cook. Since the poisons are proteins they can be denatured, that is the shape of the protein is damaged so that it is no longer a functional protein, when heated.

This is exactly what happens when you get scum on your bean pan when you are cooking. The denatured protein is floating to the surface. It is therefore a good idea to remove the scum, because you may still have some unpleasent chemicals in the foam" - Neil Gostling, evolutionary biologist.

I found this interesting, as it applies to my beer brewing foam, hot breaks and cold breaks and how it affects taste and clarity of the finished product. Now it applies to beans/lentils too!

Ken R
Rouxbe Staff

Re: To skim or not to skim foam/scum off beans?

Excellent explanation... thank you for sharing.

Maria D

SOAKING

Hi, i was just wondering if you can cook dried beans without soaking first.
My mum mentioned the other day that when her mother used to cook beans she never soaked them first.
Thanks.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Do You Have to Soak Dried Beans?

One does not have to soak dried beans before cooking them. For more information on this, be sure to watch the lesson on "How to Cook Legumes" as we cover this in quite a bit of detail in topic 4. Hope that helps. Cheers!

Kathleen F

Kathleen F

I'm wondering if anyone has followed all the steps but used a crockpot for the final stages of cooking beans. We often are needing to cook the beans at a time when we would like to go for our walk, etc. and therefore not have to be available for the steps after the foam-skimming step. I've made five of the practice recipes and have rave reviews from family and friends so would like to streamline the making of this wonderful, healthy food into other healthy pursuits!

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Cooking Beans in Crockpot

Kathleen, it should work just fine to cook the beans in a crockpot, as you suggested. Feel free to give it a try and report back. By the way, we are glad that you and your family and friends are all enjoying the recipes. Cheers!

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