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Old 02-23-2009, 02:31 PM   #11
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I always soak overnight - 24 hours or so for red beans.

Last time, I used the test kitchen/cooks mag method. Have to check my cooks mag when I get home, but I thought it was to soften the beans - which I guess would facilitate skin removal. I liked them better than any I made before. Wife thought they tasted funny at first, but upon the all-important leftovers she thought they were fine.

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Old 02-23-2009, 02:35 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by mike in brooklyn View Post
On a recent episode of Americas Test Kitchen they made
white bean soup - they soaked the beans overnight in
heavilly salted water claiming the soak would prevent the
'skin' from falling off during cooking.
They rinsed the beans well before cooking in unsated water.

Has anyone ever heard of this method ?

(they compared it to brining meat)

no have never heard of this method.

I try to use the overnight soaking method, I soak the beans with a bay leaf.

I rely on my bean bible "The Michigan Bean Cookbook" published by the Michigan Bean Commission, for my bean info. They do state that acid will make beans firm when cooking. They make no mention of salt doing that. They recommend to simmer beans gently, to prevent the skins from bursting.

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Old 02-23-2009, 02:44 PM   #13
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According to Cook's Illustrated,
"...soaking dried beans in mineral-rich, hard tap water
can toughen their skins. Some recipes recommend using distilled water to avoid this
issue, but weíve discovered a simpler solution: adding salt to the tap water, which
prevents the magnesium and calcium in the water from binding to the cell walls, and it
will also displace some of the minerals that occur naturally in the skins. We found that
three tablespoons of salt per gallon of soaking water is enough to guarantee soft skins."
As for acidity, they say this:
"Finally, if youíve cooked your beans for hours and found they failed to soften, chances
are they are either old and stale (and will never fully hydrate or soften), the water is too
hard, or thereís a acidic element present. Food scientists universally agree that high
acidity can interfere with the softening of the cellulose-based bean cells, causing them
to remain hard no matter how long they cook. Alkalinity, on the other hand, has the
opposite effect on legumes. Alkalines make the bean starches more soluble and thus
cause the beans to cook faster. (Older bean recipes often included a pinch of baking
soda for its alkalinity, but because baking soda has been shown to destroy valuable
nutrients, few contemporary recipes suggest this shortcut.)

But how much acid is too much acid? At what pH level is there a negative impact on the
beans? We cooked four batches of small white beans in water altered with vinegar to
reach pH levels of 3, 5, 7, and 9. We brought them to a boil, reduced the heat to a low
simmer, and tested the beans every 30 minutes for texture and doneness. The beans
cooked at a pH of 3 (the most acidic) remained crunchy and tough-skinned despite
being allowed to cook 30 minutes longer than the other three batches. The beans
cooked at pHs of 5, 7, and 9 showed few differences, although the 9 pH batch finished a
few minutes ahead of the 7 pH batch and about 20 minutes ahead of the 5 pH batch.
Acidity, then, must be relatively high to have any significant impact on beans. So in real
world terms, season with discretion and donít add a whole bottle of vinegar or wine to
your beans until they are tender."
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Old 02-23-2009, 05:18 PM   #14
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I try to saok my beans overnight, but sometimes forget, and then do the quick method.

[QUOTE][I've never done the soak with salt, but don't see where it would hurt anything..... /QUOTE]

I never add salt, because my Mother told me not to.
Practice safe lunch. Use a condiment.
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Old 02-23-2009, 05:39 PM   #15
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I've done the quick method too, but I still don't add any salt until I'm ready to actually "cook" the beans.

I made the mistake of adding salt once to the soaking water before I read not to do it, & no amount of cooking softened those beans sufficiently. I had to start over.
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Old 02-24-2009, 07:46 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by BreezyCooking View Post
I should have added to my previous post that one time, many years ago, I did soak some dried Great Northern beans in salted water overnight. I cooked those suckers for HOURS, & they were still inedible. And no, they weren't "old", etc., etc. Never soaked in salt water again; never had a problem. No longer willing to experiment with it; not worth it.

Thanks Breezy - you settled it for me - I have 1 lb Navy Beans
soaking as I write and I did not add salt to the soaking water.
Plan to make soup/stew using smoked Turkey wings to flavor
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:28 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by BreezyCooking View Post
I nearly always soak my beans overnight, but NEVER with salt. It has nothing to do with the skin, but can toughen the beans themselves in a way that no amount of cooking will amend. I'm surprised that no one's heard/mentioned not salting beans until they're well into cooking. It's not a "new-fangled" thing.
I do it that way, too. Maybe salting the beans at the beginning doesn't toughen them, but in my experience, it does.
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Old 02-24-2009, 10:42 AM   #18
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soaking beans serves multiple purposes...... softer beans don't require as long a soak as the harder beans, which need the overnight soak to rehydrate. Rehydrating makes for a shorter cooking time, and that means less nutrients are cooked away.... soaking can also minimize "gas', but not to the extent that most people believe....But if the cooking time or the nutritioun value isn'y a good enough reason, here's another - beans are dirty !Beans are threshed and sorted, but are not washed.. Soaking is the only way to loosen and rinse away the tiny specks of field dirt.

So; Soak-- discard water, rinse, into a clean pot, cover, and when water comes to the boil, salt if you want..........cooking time then depends on what type of bean.......
When I make my chili, or baked beans, I use three different beans.....I have to soak the black beans seperately, and for a few hours longer than the others.......
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:36 PM   #19
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That is an awesome tip for bean skin. Thanks!
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:55 PM   #20
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My Navy bean soup has just finished.
I didn't add any salt till the last 1/2 hour of cooking.
The soup cooked for 80 min and the beans were creamy and tender.
I also added 1/2 cup soy sauce during last 1/2 hour.

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