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Old 11-03-2005, 06:03 PM   #11
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I love lima beans, especially the big ole butter beans. I like them cooked until they are mushy,with a hambone or hamhock, onions, garlic, a little hot sauce, lots of juice, and a piece of cornbread crumbled into my bowl.
They take a long time to cook, but if they stayed like rocks, I agree with the others...they must be old. We got a jar of "bean soup mix" from friends one Christmas, that they had made themselves. It looked so pretty that I left it displayed on the shelf for SEVERAL years. When I finally decided to cook them, they were as you described, Alix...like rocks. I have a jar of mixed pasta from the same friends, that I think just needs to go in the waste can.
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Old 11-03-2005, 09:35 PM   #12
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Having got all that info from you folks I think I can safely conclude the beans were just too old. I honestly can't tell you how long I have had them. Oh well, live and learn.
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Old 11-04-2005, 01:58 AM   #13
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Yep - not much hope of softening up really old beans.

I do pretty much what licia described for cooking the beans - although I usually use the "quick soak" method.

I wash the beans, put them in a pot and cover them by 3-4 inches with cold water, bring just to a boil, remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 1-2 hours. While they are soaking ... toss the ham bone, or smoked ham hocks, in a pot with the amount of COLD water you will need to cook the beans - bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover, and simmer for an hour or so while the beans soak. Now you have a liquid that will add some flavor to your beans!

Remove the ham bone/ham hocks to a plate or bowl to cool enough you can handle them. Drain the beans, add them to the "ham stock", cut the meat from the bones in whatever size chunks you want - and toss the meat and bones back into the pot. If the ham bone didn't have any meat on it you might want to add some diced/chopped ham. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until done. Some people prefer their beans intact - when I make a pot of butter beans I like to let them cook down a bit more until some of them break down and start to turn into a thick mush.

DO NOT add salt until the beans are done! Salting them at the beginning will make the beans tough.

I like mine over split and buttered cornbread with a side of turnip greens and a few dashs of green tabasco vinegar sauce - and a wedge of quartered onion.

VARIATIONS: Some people like to make a "proper" stock - adding onions, carrots, celery and peppercorns to the bones/hocks and then straining them out before adding the beans. Some people like to add a sliced or diced onion in with the beans and stock .. some like to add a bay leaf or two.
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Old 11-04-2005, 07:16 AM   #14
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I have never used dried bean myself so what I am about to say is completely just hearsay and I am just throwing it out there for conversation and learning sake. I am not saying that either of these things are correct. It is just what I have recently heard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael in FtW

I usually use the "quick soak" method.
I have recently heard that the quick soak method works every bit as well as the overnight soak and that there is no additional benefit to doing it overnight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael in FtW
DO NOT add salt until the beans are done! Salting them at the beginning will make the beans tough.
I have also recently heard that salting them in the beginning will not make them tough. That this is just something that people have been saying for years and years and just accepting as truth because it sounds logical, sort of like when people say you put salt in your pasta water to raise the temp.

Again, I do not have any first hand knowledge of either of these things, but I just thought I would put them out there anyway. Maybe someone who cooked with dried beans a lot would want to do an experiment?
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Old 11-04-2005, 07:31 AM   #15
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The quick soak method does work every bit as well as overnight. It is just a little bit handier for me to do the quick soak unless I need the beans quicker. I don't salt mine in the beginning but quite a few minutes before they are done. If they are salted at the last minute the salt doesn't get to the inside as well - a bit like trying to salt fried chicken after it has been cooked. I think the most unusual use I've ever seen for these beens was in a pot of chili. It tasted good, but wasn't my choice of a best way to use them.
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Old 11-04-2005, 12:06 PM   #16
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GB, I think I have read the same thing about salting. However...I think the reason you should wait to salt at the end is to better adjust the AMOUNT of salt you use. If you salt too early you may wind up with oversalted food. BLECH.
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Old 11-04-2005, 01:13 PM   #17
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Shirley Corriher and Alton Brown both says always salt beans during cooking -- that it does not toughen them and unseasoned beans taste like "paper mache."

But Harold McGee says salted water makes beans take longer to cook.

Much discussion of how to cook dry beans here

I have always salted during cooking (I think beans taste flat without it and I am a zealot for seasoning while I cook)) and never had a problem, although I learned the hard way that acid ingredients like tomato and vinegar do toughen beans and should be added toward the end of cooking them.

I have a ham bone in the freezer and I am going to make ham and limas ala Michael and Licia this weekend. Thanks for the recipes/tips!
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Old 11-04-2005, 03:28 PM   #18
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I can verify that old beans do not soften - been there, done that.

My mom used to make a dried lima bean casserole with uncured pork chops. It was fantastic. Too bad I don't have the recipe.
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Old 11-04-2005, 03:44 PM   #19
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Sure you're not using the lima beans I sent you last year, Alix? It could be that they're expired. I usually buy the frozen ones and use them in soup with lots of beef or chicken stock for flavor.

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Old 11-04-2005, 04:50 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auntdot
I can verify that old beans do not soften - been there, done that.

My mom used to make a dried lima bean casserole with uncured pork chops. It was fantastic. Too bad I don't have the recipe.
auntdot, I cannot imagine what this tasted like. Can you approximate the recipe?
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