Tuesday, July 7, 2009

soaking beans

Dried beans are my favorite as it's easier to cook them to your favorite consistency and flavor them accordingly. Great Northern beans are one of my favorites - give them a nice long soak, boil them up with a little broth, and they taste buttery and creamy.

Pour a pound of beans into a large bowl and give them the once over, discarding any non-bean particles and sketchy looking beans. Rinse once with cold water, then cover by 2-3 inches and let soak, about 8 hours. I try to get them soaking before work so they're ready when I get home.

After the soak, pour off the soaking water and re-cover with an inch or so of fresh water. Put into a large stock pot, turn heat to high and cover. Add stock or stock concentrate now. I like Minor's vegetable base, it goes really well with these beans. Set your timer for an hour, then take a bean out, cool it and eat it. If it's tough, keep going for another 30 minutes and try again, if you like your beans really soft, go for another hour (the skins might burst). You can also use a pressure cooker, just make sure not to overfill it and go for about 20-30 minutes at a time with presoaked beans.

I like to make quick vegetable soups out of the beans using frozen spinach and cauliflower and maybe a few tomatoes (sun dried are lovely). Since the beans are cooked, just get some water going, put the frozen vegetables in the pot and once they're thawed, throw some cooked beans in the pot and let it all mix together for 5-10 minutes at near boiling. You can also freeze the just cooked beans for future use. One pound of beans makes about 2 quarts cooked (I store them in clean yogurt containers).

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