miscellaneous Idaho beans

Frequently Asked Questions About Beans

How can I reduce the flatulence-causing properties of dry beans?

If high-fiber foods such as dry beans are not a regular part of your diet, the oligosaccharides they contain may cause temporary digestive discomfort. Adding beans to your diet on a regular basis once or twice a week reduces this likelihood.

The best way to reduce oligosaccharides, tannins, phytic acid, and trypsin inhibitors, is to use the quick hot-soak method and add fresh water before cooking.

Improve the quality and digestibility of beans by consuming them with cereal grains. Beans are a rich source of lysine, which is low in cereal grains. Cereal grains are high in methionine and other sulfur amino acids. Together beans and grains like rice or tortillas provide a complimentary protein mixture.

If my recipe calls for pintos, can I substitute a different bean?

Generally you may substitute one type of bean for most other beans. However, some beans such as black beans may add a slightly different taste and color.

How long should I soak dry beans?

Thoroughly rinse and drain dry beans before soaking. Discard damaged beans and any foreign material. Then use one of the two methods below to rehydrate the beans:

Quick Hot Soak:

Cover beans with water and boil for two minutes. Cover pot; soak for one to four hours. Discard soaking water;cover beans with fresh water and two tablespoons of oil before cooking. Oil reduces foaming during the cooking process.

Overnight Cold Soak:

Cover one pound of dry beans with 4 quarts of cold water and allow to soak overnight (12 hours or more). Discard soaking water;cover beans with fresh water and two tablespoons of oil before cooking. Oil reduces foaming during the cooking process.

How long should I cook dry beans?

Exact cooking time depends upon altitude, bean variety, water hardness, and the age of the product. Generally, most beans will cook to the desired firmness in one to one-and-one-half hours. Test frequently by tasting, or mashing a bean against the side of the pot with a fork.

Cooking beans in a slow cooker takes six to eight hours, or overnight.

How long should I store dry beans?

Dry beans keep up to 12 months in an airtight container in a cool, dry environment away from direct sunlight. During storage, beans may either absorb or lose moisture which will affect the soaking and cooking time. If stored longer than 12 months, or exposed to unfavorable storage conditions beans may never soften sufficiently, no matter how long they're soaked or cooked.

How long can I keep cooked beans?

Beans are a high-protein, low-acid food. Keep hot dishes at temperatures above 140 degrees F. and cold dishes at less than 40 degrees F. Store cooked beans in sealed containers for up to three days in the refrigerator and several weeks in the freezer.

I think my beans are fresh, but they didn't soften after cooking. Why?

Always use fresh dry beans if possible. Beans that have been stored for over 12 months or in unfavorable conditions may never soften.

Hard water may also cause hard beans. Research shows that adding salt to soaking water results in softer seed coats after cooking. Dissolve 3 tablespoons of table salt in 4 quarts of cold water and soak beans for 8 to 12 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans before cooking.

Add acidic foods, such as tomatoes, vinegar, lemon or calcium-rich molasses until near the end of the cooking time as these foods may toughen the skins.

Don't add salt until just before serving as it may also toughen the skins.

How can I tell if dry beans in the store are fresh?

Unfortunately, assessing the age of packaged dry beans is difficult. Inspect the package and look for firm, clean, whole beans with a minimum of cracks and broken seed coats. The color should bright not muddy, and the beans should have a slight sheen.

If I microwave my beans will they cook faster?

No. Microwaving doesn't reduce the cooking time for dry beans. It usually takes 60 to 90 minutes to reach maximum and uniform tenderness with this method.

Can I cook beans in a pressure cooker?

When using a pressure cooker be sure the pot is no more than half full of ingredients, including water or cooking liquid. Cook at 15 pounds pressure for the required time.

Beans may be cooked after or before soaking. Generally soaked beans take 15 to 20 minutes. Unsoaked beans generally take 20 to 25 minutes to cook. Some experimentation with appropriate cooking times may be necessary. The older the beans, the more cooking time required.

Reduce pressure at the end of the cooking time by running cold water over the lid of the pressure cooker. The cooker can also be removed from the heat and allowed to gradually reduce the pressure. If this method is used, remember that the beans continue cooking so you must cut the cooking time shown on the table by 2 to 3 minutes. To prevent mixture frothing or bubbling up through the pressure valve during cooking, add one tablespoonful of vegetable oil per cup of beans to the ingredients before cooking. The oil will also keep any bean skins that might come loose from rising up and clogging the steam escape valve.

How can I add extra flavor to my bean dishes?

Add one or two bay leaves, a whole peeled onion and several peppercorns to the cooking water for a pound of beans. Discard seasonings after cooking.

Add tender herbs and spices near the end of the cooking process as their flavor tends to diminish the longer they're cooked.

How do I measure enough beans for my recipe?

Dry beans will expand 2 1/2 to 3 times their original size after cooking.

One cup of dried beans will yield two to three cups of cooked beans.

One cup of dried beans produces four 1/2 cup servings.

One pound of dried beans measures two cups.

One 15-ounce can of drained, rinsed beans equals about 1 2/3 cups of cooked beans.

I'm a Type II Diabetic. Why does my dietician recommend a diet rich in dry beans?

Unlike low-quality carbohydrates such as refined grains and sugary foods, dry beans raise blood-sugar levels slowly helping to stabilize your body's blood-sugar levels. Beans are an excellent source of fiber, so they curb your hunger, are virtually fat-free, and inexpensive.

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