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Old 05-26-2012, 10:49 PM   #1
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Question about soaking/cooking/freezing dried beans

I love soup. It's one of my favorite things, but I like to eat organically and organic canned soup is too expensive, and I never have time to make it from scratch.

The whole foods near my house sells dried soup mix by the pound, and it's okay, but I'd like to make my own - specifically, I'd like to make black bean soup mix.

Now, currently, I have an airtight container sitting on my counter. I take half a cup of the soup mix (that I bought at Whole Foods), put it in a pot with 2 cups of water and some chili powder, boil it, then let it simmer for 2 hours. I eat this for lunch.

However, I don't understand how this is possible, as the mix has beans in it. Beans need to be soaked before they can cook, right? And if you don't soak them they are nasty (tried that once!!). And if you soak them, then then only last about a week.

So how do you make dried soup mix with beans in it that only requires a quick boil and two hour simmer? More specifically, what steps would I need to take to prepare beans in this manner? I would love to be able to make ten pounds of mix and store it like I currently do the store bought mix, then I could just make a quick lunch on simmer, but I don't know how to prepare the beans.

Thank you!!!

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Old 05-26-2012, 11:31 PM   #2
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First, are they things like pintos and black beans, or are they lentils and peas? A typical "bean" soup mix has green split peas, yellow split peas, lentils, brown rice, pearled barley, and alphabet noodles and cooks in less than two hours. Technically, they are correct. Those are all beans, but I think most people think of pea soup as something different from bean soup. But there is no need to soak lentils and dried peas. Just buy them bulk and make up your mix. But you can't do that with dried black beans. You can use freeze dried cooked beans, but they're quite expensive, compared to plain dried beans.
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Old 05-26-2012, 11:45 PM   #3
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First, are they things like pintos and black beans, or are they lentils and peas?
They sell black bean soup mix like this, it has all the seasonings, dried tomatoes, black beans, pinto beans, white beans, and red beans. It's probably easier to just go buy the bulk stuff, but it's $9 a pound and 15 miles away.
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Old 05-27-2012, 07:38 AM   #4
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Do you have a pressure cooker?
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Old 05-27-2012, 08:38 AM   #5
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Actually, there is no need to soak any dried bean, especially if you are going to simmer them for 2 hours. I used to fret about the soaking of dried beans. I simply don't soak them anymore. Cooking them for a couple hours is the way to go. I did read about a method of cooking beans in the oven. I haven't tried it yet but it seems like a straightforward and nearly foolproof way of cooking dried beans.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Put 1 pound of beans in a 3-quart (or larger) Dutch oven or pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Add enough water to cover the beans by about 1 inch. Put on the lid and bake for 75 minutes. Check the beans and stir them. If they are tender, take them out of the oven. If they aren't done, put them back in for 15 minute intervals until they are, adding a cup of hot water if they seem to be drying out. This will take at most 2 hours, but will likely take less than 90 minutes.
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Old 05-27-2012, 01:49 PM   #6
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Put 1 pound of beans in a 3-quart (or larger) Dutch oven or pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Add enough water to cover the beans by about 1 inch.
I've always thought that salt was a no no at the start of the dry bean cooking process.
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Old 05-27-2012, 03:38 PM   #7
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I had believed that, too. But, like many other things I grew up believing, it ain't necessarily true.
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Old 05-27-2012, 06:57 PM   #8
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Salt does have an effect, but a subtle one. Baking soda has a stronger softening effect. Baking soda makes structures in the cell walls dissolve more readily. About one teaspoon to a quart of water. You may not like the taste. Like cilantro, some people taste it as soapy. If try this, watch the cooking time carefully. Cooking time may be as little as one quarter normal.

The opposite problem is beans getting too soft or falling apart in something that is cooked for several hours. Acids toughen those same cell walls. Sugar slows the swelling of structures that push the beans apart. Molasses is particularly good for long cooking. It has calcium, and that additional effects. And molasses is slightly acid.

Remember this when your bean recipe has something like tomatoes. Acidic tomatoes will lengthen the cooking time, and you may want to cook them a while before adding the tomatoes. Same with sugars. Partly cook the beans until they begin to soften, which means you know the cell walls are breaking down. Then add the acids and sugars. This also helps reduce the "musicality" of your beans, because they are well cooked and don't reach the lower intestines. Add epazote to bean recipes for the same reason.

Note Boston baked beans. Cooked for hours and still intact beans. Look what's in it.

Tough Beans....

And why do people often say a common bean recipe gave them hard beans? Studies show that multiple soluble compounds in beans become progressively insoluble during long storage. Dried beans are NOT completely stable. Doesn't change the nutritional value. Just makes them hard to cook. Buy smaller quantities and keep the beans rotating through the pantry before they become has-beans.
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Old 05-27-2012, 11:46 PM   #9
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Do you have a pressure cooker?
No, I don't.
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Old 05-27-2012, 11:47 PM   #10
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Actually, there is no need to soak any dried bean, especially if you are going to simmer them for 2 hours. I used to fret about the soaking of dried beans. I simply don't soak them anymore. Cooking them for a couple hours is the way to go.
What does soaking them do that cooking also does? Doesn't it have something to do with getting rid of the enzyme that causes gas? Is that wrong?

You know, I might just try this. Make a single serving "mix" and then just boil/simmer for 2 hours, see how it turns out. It's worth a shot and the ingredients are super cheap! :)
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