Brining Beans During Initial Soak

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by schmoozer, Jun 3, 2010.

  1. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Last night I read an article in Cooks Illustrated that strongly suggested brining dried beans during the initial, long soak.  I seem to recall reading here (and maybe at the Rancho Gordo site) that brining beans can cause the skin to become tough, or in some other ways make the beans less palatable.

    What's the scoop on this technique?

    Thanks!
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I think the salt in bean water issue as a no no is over rated.  How many great bean dishes include being cooked with sausages, hams and other salty cured meats? No one complains about those bean skins?

    If you're going to presoak and don't have a sodium intake issue, go ahead and brine. I pressure cook mine for the speed and must limit sodium so I'm not really a contender for the brining technique.

    I seem to recall CI in other testing said that salt does toughen bean skins. I guess flavor trumps the slightly tougher bean skin now.
     
  3. french fries

    french fries

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    What are the beans for? Maybe you can skip the soaking and add the beans to your dish dry, which will obviously take longer to cook but will result in more flavorful beans (i.e. if you make a soup and they cook in the broth from dry, rather than first soaking in water or brine - so they'll absorb more broth).
     
  4. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Salting actually toughens the entire bean, not just the skins. This leads to longer cooking time.

    Most recipes overstate how long it takes to cook beans in the first place, so I don't see how it actually matters most of the time.
     
  5. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Perhaps soaking and cooking with salted foods would produce different results ...

    I also read that salting toughens beans.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2010
  6. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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  7. amazingrace

    amazingrace

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    Directions I've seen for cooking dried beans say to never add salt to either the soaking water or to the cooking water.  While I avoid adding salt to the soak, I do add salt, and other seasonings for the cooking.   In my opinion (FWIW),  no amount of seasoning can compensate if the beans are not salted during cooking.   I always cook beans in my pressure cooker...15 minutes, instead of a couple hours.  No complaints yet.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/licklips.gif   
     
  8. amazingrace

    amazingrace

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  9. llauralight

    llauralight

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    My half Puerto-Rican mother-in-law does not brine, but does a first soak with baking soda.......I think it has something to do with less gas......
     
  10. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    That's correct, Llauralight.

    Dried beans contain certain carbohydrates that are not soluble in the human gastro intestinal system. So, as they pass through they ferment---which is what causes the gas.

    Things like baking soda and epozote dissolve some of those carbs during the soaking/cooking time, making them less likely to be troublesome that way.
     
  11. blueicus

    blueicus

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    However, if you soak and drain the water after soaking you should eliminate most of those gas-causing elements.  As for salting I season the beans after they are pretty much cooked, which prevents them from getting hard again
     
  12. chefedb

    chefedb

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    KY is correct the addition of baking soda will help the beans when soaking and also cut down the soaking time in at least 1/2.

    In the classic French Casstoulet  the beans are cooked with all kinds of things with spice and salt and don't get tough
     
  13. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    For baked beans, I like to soak them for at least four hours, preferably 8; after the soak, blanch them off in fresh water with plenty of baking soda until the water foams; drain them; and finally bake them (in liquid and seasoning).

    For "regular" stove-top beans, I like to follow a similar sequence. 

    BDL
     
  14. mangochutney

    mangochutney

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    On the centralbean.com website it says "Any acidic ingredients called for must be added at the specified time."  Here it is said that adding baking soda will shorten the required soaking time.  Am I correct in concluding that soaking in an acidic medium will lengthen the required soaking time?  I am asking because my bean soup that is usually cooked to melt-in-the-mouth tenderness in four hours was only al dente at that time today.  The only change I made, to my knowledge, was to add some whey to the soak water.
     
  15. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Adding acid too early won't change soaking and/or cooking time so much as toughen the beans.  You can try to correct toughness with extra soaking and/or cooking time, but won't get much joy. 

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2011
  16. mangochutney

    mangochutney

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    Okay, thanks.  I was trying to find more uses for my kefir whey.  Obviously soaking beans is not a good one.
     
  17. siduri

    siduri

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    This may not refer to beans but i remember reading way back that putting baking soda into stuff like peas or string beans or artichokes will make them stay bright green but will destroy some (most?) of the nutrients so don;t do it.  Was it Julia Child that said that a french person can recognize that an artichoke that's still bright green has been treated with baking soda and wouldn;t eat it?  anyway, does it remove nutrients?  or is that an old wives' tale?  string beans and peas are also legumes.