Store Bought Beans
Heinz has a massively unfair advantage over us amateurs. They buy most of their beans in the Midwest and Ontario, Canada, and test every batch-which vary by the time of year and area where they're grown-for their ability to absorb water, how well they'll hold together before and after cooking, how intact they'll be, how many will remain hard and how many become broken, and how many will lose their skins. Then Heinz adjusts the cooking of each batch to achieve perfection. Heinz cooks its beans in two stages. They call the first one "blanching," but it seems more like soaking in hot, circulating water for a certain amount of time; they wouldn't tell me just how long. I guess that Heinz discovered my hot-soaking method before I did-though I've never seen it published. At the end of the blanching stage, the beans will have absorbed some water all the way to their centers.
Heinz then mixes the beans with its secret sauce and cooks them right in the sealed cans at a temperature not normally available to us laypersons, about 250°F, which is way above the boiling point of water. How could I duplicate this at home?
Several ingredients are said to slow the cooking, even keep the beans hard and toughen their skins. These are sugar (including molasses), salt, and anything acidic, such as tomatoes. If we want our beans to absorb these flavors, we have to add them near the end. When preparing most complicated bean dishes, such as cassoulet and Boston baked beans, you begin with fully cooked white beans, add delicious flavorings, and bake them for a long time, during which the flavors permeate the beans.
Bean Counting - How
- A pound of beans measures about 2 cups.
- Beans triple in volume when soaked and cooked.
- A cup of dry beans yields 3 cups cooked.
- A pound of dry beans yields 6 cups cooked.
- Use 3 cups of water per cup of dry beans for soaking.
- A pound of dry beans makes about 9 servings of baked beans.
- A pound of dry beans makes about 12 servings of bean soup.
- A one-pound can of cooked beans measures about 2 cups.
Is it done yet?
Bean aficionados recommend several methods to check for doneness. A
fork, or when it squashes easily between your fingers.
Want a foolproof way to test? The American Dry Bean Board recommends a taste test; Beans should be tender, but not mushy.
Steps for Pressure Cooking Beans
- Always use a recipe,
or if you are an experienced pressure
cooker user, use the Cooking
- Drain and rinse presoaked
beans in cold running water and place
in the cooker.
- Cover clean presoaked beans
with water or other liquids, or combinations,
by at least 2 inches above the level
of the beans.
- Add any other ingredients such as
onions or carrots, etc., and any flavorings
or seasonings like herbs,
peppers and spices. Add salt after
and any acidic flavorings
like vinegars, hot sauce,lemon juice
or tomatoes or salsa after cooking
- Add 1-2 T. whole fat or oil (veg
oil, bacon drippings, lard, butter)
to the cooker. Do not margarine as it
is not totally fat.
- Do not fill the pressure cooker
more than half full when cooking any
- Following the manufacturers
instructions, seal the cooker and bring
it up to15psi pressure.
- When the pressure regulator
indicates the proper pressure, reduce
the heat and start timing.
- Maintain heat and pressure
for the length of time indicated for
the type of beans you are cooking.
- Use the natural release method
before opening the lid.
- Test for doneness, a bean
is fully cooked when you can mash it
easily between your finger and thumb
or easily mashed with a fork.
- If more cooking time is needed
return to pressure for an additional
3 minutes, use the natural release method and check for doneness again. Repeat
- For thicker, creamier beans
remove 2-3 cups cooked beans and broth,
puree until smooth and stir back into
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