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Brining Beans During Initial Soak

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

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!

Schmoozer
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Schmoozer
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post #2 of 17

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.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 17

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).

post #4 of 17

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.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post

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?

[...] 

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.



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

 

I also read that salting toughens beans.

Schmoozer
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Schmoozer
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post #6 of 17
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #7 of 17

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.    

"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

Hm, take a look at: http://www.centralbean.com/cooking.html



I did not see any mention of soaking beans prior to cooking.  Did I miss it? 

"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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post #9 of 17

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......

post #10 of 17

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.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #11 of 17

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

"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #12 of 17

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

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #13 of 17

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

post #14 of 17

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.

post #15 of 17

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

post #16 of 17

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

post #17 of 17

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. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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