How to Cook Beans
(The Best-Tasting and Least Gas-Causing)
As I have mentioned frequently in these pages, I make at least one pot of beans a week. The type varies- from black beans, to pintos, to chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), to white beans, to other legumes such as lentils. Then I use them in my cooking throughout the week- often in one or two dinners (in different recipes) and then for easy ‘lunch bowls’. Any extra beans can easily be frozen.
On the one hand, my husband’s favorite foods are Mexican. On the other hand, he always complained when I fed him beans. Some digestive systems are more sensitive than others, and as we all know, beans often cause gastrointestinal discomfort (most commonly gas).
Now we eat beans frequently and have no problems. I’ve learned some techniques for cooking beans that I think you’ll appreciate. There are ways to drastically mitigate the gas problem, or even get rid of the issue altogether.
Beans are a great source of protein for vegans and vegetarians. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals they contain. They are also an excellent way to add healthy variety to meals. So if you’ve had trouble in the past, try out these techniques and see what happens.
Here I will teach you how to make the lowest gas-causing, best-flavored beans every time. A few little tips and tricks will make a HUGE difference in your bean-eating experience.
The following are the general guidelines for cooking any type of bean. The only real difference will be in the amount of cooking time required per variety. Click here for specifics on how to make flavorful white beans.
Give it a try and share your results!
Tips and Tricks for Cooking The Best Beans (Without Gas)
Beans of choice
2-3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or other vinegar or choice)
2-3 whole garlic cloves (peeled)
Soak the beans
Place the beans in a large pot and check through them to make sure there aren’t any rocks, bad beans, or other oddities. Use as large a pot as you have. (Later it will help to have lots of space above the level of the water and beans to avoid boiling over.)
Cover with at least twice as much water as beans. (I use bottled water as I don’t trust the tap water here in Argentina.) During the soaking phase is when the beans absorb the most water. Usually they will expand to about double the dry quantity. This depends on the beans. I’d say chickpeas absorb the most water and adzuki beans absorb the least.
Cover the pot and set aside for at least 6 hours, or longer. I usually put them to soak when I get up in the morning, which gives them a good 8 hours+ before I cook them in the evening while making some other dinner. Many people prefer soaking overnight. It really depends on your schedule.
To expedite this process, you can heat the water and beans to hot on the stove and then turn it off to speed up the soaking.
Cook the Beans
After soaking, drain off the water and rinse a few times under the tap. (Add water, stir the beans around with your hand, pour off the water, repeat.) Then add fresh water for boiling.
Again, cover the soaked beans with at least twice the amount of water as beans.
Add the 2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar. (Don’t worry, it won’t make the beans taste funny, but it will help a lot with reducing gas.)
Add the 2-3 whole, peeled cloves of garlic. (This step is optional but adds a lovely subtle flavor to the beans.)
Do NOT add salt until near the end. It will make the beans tougher, and possibly they won't cook entirely. (I know friends who have very salty tap water and their beans don't get truly tender, even after many hours of cooking.)
Bring to a boil.
During this time, I usually keep the lid cracked, and set a timer for 10 minutes. This is to remind me to keep an eye on it, to avoid overflowing bean water all over the cooktop. (Chickpeas are the worst. They love to boil over and I have to keep the lid open at least an inch, if not more throughout the cooking process.)
Now, as the beans are coming to a boil, scoop off the foam that accumulates on top. (Another gas reducing technique. Possibly the most important one!!!) I use a large spoon and scoop it into the inverted pot lid, before washing it down the sink.
Reduce the heat to a level that keeps the beans boiling without threat of them boiling over. If you can keep the lid on, that’s best. If you have to leave it cracked, that’s okay, just keep an eye on the water level. Water should always be covering the beans completely.
If at any point the water level drops below the level of the beans, you must add more. Be sure to boil the water before adding it to the pot. Adding room temperature water will increase the cooking time substantially. (It will have to come back to a boil before the beans will continue cooking.)
Different beans have different cooking times. Even different brands of the same beans might have different cook times. As a general rule, pre-soaked white, black and pinto beans take approximately 1 to 1.5 hours til tender. Chickpeas usually a bit longer, 1.5 to 2 hours.
Set the timer for what you think the minimum cooking time might be (say 1 hour for most beans). Test a bean for tenderness. Then reset in the timer in 15-20 minutes intervals depending on the cooking progress. Stir the beans once or twice during cooking to make sure they aren’t sticking to the bottom.
Your beans are done when they are completely tender. There should be no resistance when you bite into one. With most varieties, they should also turn a duller muddier color and the water should be thicker (more soupy). With time you might also notice the change in smell, from bright and fresh beans to cooked. Undercooked beans will be a digestive nightmare. So, if anything, err on the side of overcooked while you learn the ropes. (Especially if you plan to puree them for recipes such as hummus or ‘refried beans'.)
You can add salt during the last 20-30 minutes of cooking. Start with 1 tablespoon.
Test the flavor when the beans are done and add more salt as needed. Salt is essential to good-tasting beans. If the beans taste blah (too bland and flavorless), then they need more salt. You are aiming for the flavor to pop- but not beans that taste outright salty.
Lastly, when the beans are done cooking and the heat is off, add a good glug of olive oil. This step is important for the mouth-feel and texture.
You can use the beans immediately, or cool and store for later.
Sometimes, if they finish cooking too late in the evening, I will just put the lid tight on the pot and leave them on the stove to cool overnight. Then I can store them away in the morning. It takes quite a while for whole pot of beans to cool down. Kind of like molten lava.
That might seem like a lot of steps... In reality your active time will be maybe 15 minutes throughout. You just need to be around while they're cooking, though you don’t need to pay much attention to them. That’s why I usually get them boiling just before I start dinner. That gives them time to cook and cool before bed, and I’m doing things around the kitchen anyway and can keep an eye on them.
Good luck and enjoy!!
And please ask questions or share comments by using the original blog link here.