I can't cook beans for beans.

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Beans are probably my favorite food, but I can't seem to make beans that really taste good. I mean like refried beans, rice and beans, carribean-style black beans...I have made all of these and they've all been bland and I haven't wanted to finish the pot (I like to cook a lot of something and eat it all week). I feel stupid about this. Please share your bean recipes with the internet.

(especially pinto, black, and kidney because those are the best)

caitlin oh no (caitxa1), Saturday, 10 December 2005 14:03 (eighteen years ago) link

Hm. I don't have an actual recipe, but here's some of the stuff I cook up with beans:
  • concentrated stock (if your a vegetarian, try making some from roasted carrot, celery, onion)

  • epazote (a Mexican herb)

  • cumin

  • chicos (dried sweet corn kernels - another Mexican addition)

  • sofrito, for Cuban/carribean flavors, although I leave out the bell peppers.

  • various vinegars
  • If I make a huge pot of beans for the week, I like to layer more flavors in as the week goes on, maybe chop some sun-dried tomatoes in one day, some fresh cilantro another day, some chilis the next, etc.

    Jaq (Jaq), Sunday, 11 December 2005 14:56 (eighteen years ago) link

    Alton Brown had a good episode about beans. I seem to recall that it's important not to salt them too early (it makes the skins tough?). Like other starches, they can take a pretty aggressive hand with the salt.

    One thing I love is Crescent Dragonwagon's Cuban black bean soup. Soak them overnight, simmer them until tender in fresh water with bay leaves and hot chilies. Then saute an ungodly amount of chopped onions and garlic (and some bell pepper if you want) in an even more ungodly amount of olive oil (1/4 cup to 3/4 cup depending on your own personal OMG WTF level). Add the onions to the beans, simmer 30 more minutes, done.

    I do feel guilty for getting any perverse amusement out of it (Rock Hardy), Sunday, 11 December 2005 18:21 (eighteen years ago) link

    yeah, i think i'm too lax on the garlic because my beans often come out tasting kind of sweet, it's not good. i'm trying new refried recipe right now.

    caitlin oh no (caitxa1), Sunday, 11 December 2005 19:26 (eighteen years ago) link

    I don't understand how beans could be BAD! Last night I chucked a can of black beans into a pan with diced tomatoes/bell peppers/onion/garlic, sprinkled in some cumin & cayenne, and served the whole thing over some kind of pork chop & couscous. Sour cream and chives as garnish. Delish and a total no-brainer.

    Laurel (Laurel), Monday, 12 December 2005 16:12 (eighteen years ago) link

    wrong! also i want to use dried beans. i don't eat animals. my beans are blander than bland. i'm also pretty impatient sometimes and they don't always cook all the way. i'm good at cooking but this really throws me for a loop.

    caitlin oh no (caitxa1), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 02:11 (eighteen years ago) link

    Do you soak them? I usually soak overnight. You can either cook the next day or refrigerate for 2-3 days until you are ready to cook.

    Jaq (Jaq), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 04:28 (eighteen years ago) link

    Make that "drain and refrigerate...". Also, William OTM about not adding salt early on.

    Jaq (Jaq), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 04:32 (eighteen years ago) link

    If I were an impatient person wanting to cook dried beans I'd fix myself up with a nice energy-efficient pressure cooker.

    Try this: fry up a cup of chopped garlic and six tablespoons of cumin in a half-cup of olive oil. Spoon that into your cooked pound of black beans until they have enough flavor. Add salt and sherry vinegar to taste. If you can add the whole seasoning mix and the beans are still bland, the problem lies elsewhere.

    A half-drop of liquid smoke might give them a little kick too.

    Paul Eater (eater), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 05:13 (eighteen years ago) link

    Try this: fry up a cup of chopped garlic and six tablespoons of cumin in a half-cup of olive oil.

    I think this sentence gave me some sort of taste-bud hard-on.

    I do feel guilty for getting any perverse amusement out of it (Rock Hardy), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 06:32 (eighteen years ago) link

    yes i soak them! i think i'm just retarded.

    caitlin oh no (caitxa1), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 13:11 (eighteen years ago) link

    I also had a hard time trying to find a successful way to prepare dried beans. Even after soaking them for a long time (and not adding salt to the cooking liquid!), most beans would come out either too firm or crunchy, or else they would just dissolve into a bean porridge - I could never manage to make beans that retained their shape yet were soft enough to mash easily with a fork.

    Then I stumbled upon a thread on one of the Egullet cooking forums, that stated the best way to cook dried beans to perfection, was to put them into a heavy pot, UNSOAKED, with lots of SALT ADDED, and cook them for a couple hours in a 250F degree oven.

    I was wary about trying this out, as it contradicted the received wisdom to never salt beans until they are basically done cooking, or else their skins will harden and extend the cooking time. But I tried it anyway, and they actually came out great, much to my surprise.

    If anyone is interested, here's the recipe:



    1 lb. unsoaked dried beans
    6 to 8 cups water
    2 teaspoons or more salt
    seasonings, if any


    Heat oven to 250 F. Place beans, water, salt, and any seasonings* into a heavy pot and bring to a simmer on stovetop. Cover pot, put in oven, and cook until done, usually a little over two hours.

    * they say not to add anything acidic (vinegar, hot sauce containing vinegar, tomatoes, etc) to the beans while they are cooking, as it will harden them.

    I make black beans for burritos using this method almost every week; I like to add a tablespoon or more of liquid smoke to the cooking liquid to give them additional flavor.

    I also prepare dried split peas, like chana dal or black-eyed peas using the oven-method - they take about 45 minutes to an hour, and need a little less water.

    Recently, I cooked some dried chickpeas that had been in a jar on the shelf for over a year. I thought I would need to increase the cooking time substantially, but it turned out they only took about two and half hours to cook.

    i like to eat beans, Wednesday, 14 December 2005 22:16 (eighteen years ago) link

    five months pass...
    Did you know the Turkish make a desert with beans five different kinds, nuts, dried fruit,spices,sugar and milk and yes they do soak them. Sorry I dont know the recipe but could not be too hard too figure out. The Chinese and Japanese make sweet bean deserts also the aduki bean being my favourite. I usually cook beans with a bit of ginger helps reduce the fart factor. Today i bought Persian Red Lentils which I think Ill cook with star anise and ginger and ill have em with herbed lamb sausage and baked sweet potatoe yum!

    peat moss, Tuesday, 30 May 2006 09:07 (eighteen years ago) link

    although i've never used dry beans myself, from what i hear, some of the problems people may be having with resucitating them may be due to their age - they keep well, but after some period of time they become basiclaly brittle and fall apart when moistened.

    also, they need to be dried at the right time when they're fresh. i'm guesing that better-quality dried beans are easier to deal with.

    AaronK (AaronK), Tuesday, 30 May 2006 17:43 (eighteen years ago) link

    If beans are anything like lentils they need a TON o salt. I can put in over a tablespoon per large pot and it still is only just right. Also at least 3 garlic cloves, and some stock, and then herbs, or tomatoes, or some garam masala/cumin. Num.

    Trayce (trayce), Wednesday, 31 May 2006 00:55 (eighteen years ago) link

    i have figured out how to cook beans and i am now an expert. they're all i eat! a plop of oil, dump some salt in, garlic, let it gooooo

    caitlin oh no (caitxa1), Sunday, 4 June 2006 02:24 (eighteen years ago) link

    seven years pass...

    my soaking and cooking is not working out quite right : /

    j., Saturday, 9 November 2013 23:10 (ten years ago) link

    what's the matter? I used to be a little impatient when I first cooked beans. it's important to let them go for a little longer when you think they are just done. and salt should never be added when soaking for some reason. those are two things that first come to mind that can go awry.....oh, and don't boil the hell out of 'em, just gently boil a wee bit above a simmer for best results, imo

    making plans for nyquil (outdoor_miner), Sunday, 10 November 2013 16:35 (ten years ago) link

    I have had luck with the pressure cooker and slow cooker methods! Slow cooker is particularly easy and effective.

    quincie, Sunday, 10 November 2013 16:39 (ten years ago) link

    i dunno, they got to the point of being edible (and not like in a barely tolerable way) but never truly softened, and i surely let them go longer than long.

    i've tried twice now, once with a hot-soften before cooking, and once with a cold overnight soak. similar results each time.

    but in both cases i was cooking with other things, and after a certain point i just figured, i couldn't let it cook forever if i wanted to keep any of the other ingredients tasting vaguely like themselves.

    j., Sunday, 10 November 2013 22:14 (ten years ago) link

    still no luck with kidneys rather than black, either i'm cooking them too hot or the additional ingredients i'm cooking them with are too salty too soon.

    j., Sunday, 24 November 2013 01:56 (ten years ago) link

    wish i could see what you're doing j. as i have no idea where the problem lies.
    cooked a buncha red beans yesterday - soaked 4 hours, drained, rinsed, boiled ~ 75 minutes. done. then added some salt.
    so red beans and rice, y'all. never made it before but have eaten a version or two. gonna add some vegetarian sausage to the mix; and cayenne, oregano and smoked paprika are the only other ings aside from the obvious

    making plans for nyquil (outdoor_miner), Sunday, 1 December 2013 22:00 (ten years ago) link

    nine years pass...

    "salt should never be added when soaking" said me ten years ago and i was WRONGO!

    Not sure where i read this recently but brining for a day in some salt and baking soda is a bean cooking game-changer. I haven't done this scientifically with a control group or whatever but the jumbo white beans i just cooked in less than a hour took closer to 2 the time before (same batch of Rancho Gordos). Same with black beans last week. Cooked in ~ half the time as the previous time (again, the same batch from RG). Apparently the soda halps break down pectin. Not sure what the salt theory is.

    Probably mentioned this elsewhere but Kenji's garbanzo cooking hack gets those done in ~20 minutes! Honest and true

    Half Japanese Breakfast (outdoor_miner), Monday, 27 February 2023 16:53 (one year ago) link

    beans are inexpensive too

    | (Latham Green), Monday, 27 February 2023 18:43 (one year ago) link

    yeah, but depending on source you're risking beans that are olde and never properly finish cooking ime. i don't mind paying $7 for a pound of RG or other nice beans. ends up being like a buck/ cooked cup or something which is really nothing for something that can be star of a dish

    Half Japanese Breakfast (outdoor_miner), Monday, 27 February 2023 19:06 (one year ago) link

    three weeks pass...

    Olde Tyme Beanes

    | (Latham Green), Wednesday, 22 March 2023 13:44 (one year ago) link

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