How To Add Taste and Flavor to Dried Beans

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Adding Flavor To Dried Beans

Let me tell you a secret about dried beans; they are bland and tasteless. The secret to making the best pot of beans is using a well-seasoned and richly flavored broth as the base that will flavor the beans as they cook. The broth can either be meat or vegetables based, and I recommend using either the meat or vegetable version of the Best Bean Broth recipe from my cookbook (Miss Vickie's BIG BOOK of Pressure Cooker Recipes).

The making of a delicious pot of beans from scratch, is a two step process. First you will need to cook a well seasoned and richly flavored broth, and this can either be meat based or made from vegetables. In either case, a good broth begins with lots of aromatic vegetables and fragrant herbs to give it a deep, well-rounded flavor and that all important, wonderful aroma. Choose the ingrdients you like best, select from lots of arromatic vegetabales like onions, leeks, carrots, celeriac, cilantro, parsnips, celery, Italian parsley, peppers and garlic, either roasted or not, to add plenty of flovor as well as aroma to dried beans.

For a richer broth, you need to add a smoked meat to the aromatic vegetables. Choose from smoked meats such as hamhocks, a meaty leftover hambone, pork neck bones, smoked turkey, bacon ends, or smoked sausages, or use combination of meats.

When you have assembled all the delicious vegetables, meat and seasoning ingredients for your stock in the pressure, you need enough liquids to cover everything bu about 2 inches. Don't use just plain water to make the broth for your beans, add still more flavoring liquids such as other broth, or stock, wine, beer or coffee. See more recipes on Stocks and Broth. Use the Cooking Time Charts for Meat, to detmine how long your broth needs to cook. When the cooker is depressurized, remove the meat and pick off all the pieces of meat and return them to the cooker.

Now you're finally ready to actually cook those presoaked beans. After they been drained abd rinced, add then to the cooker, adding more liquid if need to cover them by 2-3 inches. Use the Cooking Time Charts for Beans and those once tasteless beans will absorb all wonderful, complex flavor of your broth.

Do You Want Thick, Creamy Beans?
For a creamier, richer and thicker broth, remove about two cups of cooked beans and liquid, puree with a blender or mash with a fork to releases the starch which will thicken the broth.  Stir the mashed beans back into the pot, mixing well. Simmer over a low heat as the broth thickens.

Adding Seasoning To Dried Beans

You'll also want to enhance the flavor even more by some complimentary herbs like thyme, marjoram, oregano -- either dried or fresh, but use more if they are fresh -- using a piece of cheesecloth to tie up the larger herbs, a couple of bay leaves and about 10 whole peppercorns, to make it easy to remove when the beans are done. Select herbs and spices that appeal to your tastes, or those that will compliment the type of cuisine you're cooking. Like for a Mexican style of beans, I like to add a generous amount of cumin and chili powder.

Adding salt, or acidic ingredients such as tomato-based products, citrus, or vinegars to the beans before or during cooking will cause the tiny opening at the top of the bean to contract, making it harder for them to absorb water and become soft. This means significantly extended cooking times which cause more nutrients to be lost, and wastes your money in added fuel costs, as well as time lost waiting for the beans to become edible.

So wait until the beans are fully cooked, then taste and adjust seasoning, adding condiments like pickled condiments and acidic ingredients as desired. Taste the beans before using additional salt if you used a salty or cured meat or broth, strong, pungent spices, or hot sauces, etc., as they will reduce the need for salt in many cases.

Adding Oils or Fat to Dried Beans

Always add 1-2 tablespoons of oil when cooking dried beans and peas as a safety measures. Dried Legumes tend to froth and foam, the skins float on top and may get pushed up into the vent pipe or valve stem.

Oils, fats or grease can also be used to add flavor to beans such as bacon grease, butter, ham or pork fat, flavored oils like sesame and olive oils.

Do NOT use acids (chili sauce, ketchup, lemon juice, tomato, wine or vinegar) for soaking or cooking beans. Acid seals the hole where water enters the bean and keeps the bean from becoming soft.
Do NOT add salt for the same reason as above.  Waiting until the beans are cooked and then add salt, adjust to taste.
Baking soda? Many older recipes call for baking soda touting all kinds of benefits from eliminating gas , to speed cooking or soften beans by increasing alkalinity. Use 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda per cup of dried beans ONLY if you have extremely hard water. Baking soda will produce mushy beans, and deplete minerals, but it's a trade off if your water is hard.
Always add 1-2 tablespoons of oil, bacon drippings, butter, or lard  to prevent foaming that may clog the vent.



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