When soaking beans overnight, do you use only water, or do you make a brine with water, salt, bay leafs, thyme, onions etc...?
If you use a salted brine, does that make the final cooked beans tougher?
I've heard arguments that it toughens them, that it flavors them evenly and so on. I hear more voices that it toughens them but I've not seen any science on it yet.
It also depends a lot upon the bean, generally speaking the smaller the bean the thinner the skin and no need to brine/soften it.
Personally I'm a big fan of the method I posted in this thread March 2014 Challenge - Beans I'll repost here without the pics for simplicity.
Steve Sando knows a few things about beans and has a great selection, I believe he's almost in your back yard.
- don't throw out the soaking water
- don't add salt add salty flavouring
- epazote enhances bean flavours, but don't overdo it
Beans that taste like ... well just beans.
(adapted from Steve Sando's Basic Cooked Beans and Eden Organic's canned bean process)
1. Sort and pick out any broken beans or debris.
2. Wash the beans in a colander to remove any dust / dirt.
3. Put the beans in the pot you will cook them in, cover with water 3-4 inches above the beans.
4. Soak the beans for 2-6 hours, making sure to keep the water at least 2" above the beans.
5. Top up the water if needed and bring the pot with the soaking water to a hard boil for 10 minutes.
6. Reduce heat and simmer the beans for about 2 hours when you'll start to smell the beans.
4" piece of kombu,
Bragg All Purpose Liquid Soy Seasoning (now called Liquid Aminos) to taste (approx 3tbs per pound)
1/4 tsp of dried whole Epazote per pound of dry beans
8. Continue cooking for about another half to full hour depending on the desired texture of your beans.
I use the kombu and liquid aminos to add depth of flavour that doesn't mask the taste of the beans but rather compliments and elevates them. Adding the salt at the end really allows the beans to soak up water but remain soft skinned. They also don't break apart as easily.
Actually the more beans you eat the better your body becomes at digesting them. ie. less "end effects"
so does epazote...
That's pretty much what I've heard as well. I did a test once with chickpeas, doing a "quick brine" (boil in salted water, stop the heat and let rest for a couple hours), and even after a couple of hours of cooking the chickpeas were still rather.... "al dente". However they did taste better, or at least that was my (biased) impression.
@MichaelGA thank you for sharing that recipe, I will try it. I have never cooked with epazote so that will be new to me. I have also found that you can use the soaking water to cook the beans, which reinforces their flavor. I'm lucky not to have to worry about "end problems", as we consume a lot of fibers in our family, and I believe our bodies got quite accustomed to them by now.
@wlong thanks for the clip I'll check it out.
It just now occurred to me that when making bean dishes I don't salt until near the end, adjusting the seasonings. I often do cook them with some sort of salted pork, though, so it is most likely relying on the bacon or ham or whatever to add the salt.