Beans is one of the common foods we find on the menu all around the world. Beans is so popular because it is easy to grow, and tastes delicious when cooked. There are also many species of beans which adds to the variety chefs appreciate when displaying their culinary abilities. Beans is also rich in protein and other vitamins.
In this post, we will be discussing the methods of preparing beans with a focus on soaking beans, the effect of soaking on beans and how it improves the outcome after cooking.
Soaking Beans (Quick Bean Soak, Long Soak and Pressure Soaking Beans)
Is it necessary to soak beans?
As mentioned earlier, there are different species of beans. The hardness of bean seeds makes it necessary to soak it before cooking in a pressure cooker. Beans such as the Soybean, a popular favorite must be soaked for about twelve hours because it is very hard. So, to answer the question, soaking beans improves the outcome after cooking, I am sure this is the expectation of everyone who cooks beans so you should consider soaking beans when necessary.
Beans is also soaked to eliminate dirt. The process of preparing beans in farms before they are packaged and sold does not eliminate dirt and other unwanted components. Soaking beans will help to remove dirt, which will float on the surface of the water.
To find out just how dirty the beans you have bought is, perform this quick experiment, after soaking the beans remove a few bean seeds and use a cotton swab to rub the surface. You will notice the white cotton swab will become discolored because of the dirt on the bean seeds.
It is also believed that by soaking beans, you are removing a large part of the complex sugars that can make digestion difficult. To some extent, this is true; some of this sugar dissolves in the water. However, it should be noted that the primary reason for soaking beans is to eliminate dirt.
Other types of dirt that can be removed from your beans after soaking include insect larvae, rodent waste, sand, traces of pesticide, and bacteria. Overall, the benefits of soaking beans by far outweigh any reasons you may have to avoid the process.
Here’s another reason you should consider soaking beans, from experiments, it has been confirmed that soaked beans is cooked for a shorter period. Why does this matter? Cooking beans for a shorter time helps to retain a large composition of the nutrients. This means you get more value from the meal. Another advantage of shorter cooking time for soaked beans is that you can significantly lower energy consumption. If you are concerned about high energy bills, we all know the hardness of beans requires longer cooking to make it soft, consider soaking the beans and you can cook for a shorter time.
Did you know that soaked beans tends to cook more evenly than beans you have not soaked? If you notice many bean seeds are split after cooking, it is probably because you did not soak the beans or allow enough time for rehydration. Give it a trial and observe the results.
Methods of soaking beans
There are three particular methods of soaking beans; they are:
- Pressure soaking beans
- Quick soak
- Long soak
Your choice will depend on the recipe you are using to cook beans or the type of beans you are cooking.
|Pressure Soak Method||Quick Soak Method||Long Soak Method|
|1. Cover beans by 3 inches of water. Bring to pressure. Cook 5 minutes.||1. Boil beans in water for 3 minutes in a heavy pot.||1. Soak beans according to the Cooking Time Chart.|
|2. Remove from heat, and let pressure drop naturally.||2. Cover and set aside for 2 hours||2. Drain and discard the water and rinse beans|
|3. Drain and discard the water and rinse beans.||3. Drain and discard the water and rinse beans.||3. Proceed with the recipe.|
|4. Proceed with the recipe.||4. Proceed with the recipe.|
Table by Vickie Smith
It should be noted that soaking beans also causes an increase in the size of the bean seeds. This is because of water absorption. The tendency of beans to swell makes it necessary to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a pressure cooker. You must never put more quantity of beans than necessary into the cooker to ensure adequate pressure can be generated to cook the beans.
Soaking beans-The process
Considering that you will need to soak beans for a long time, you should avoid the use of metal containers or pots. My advice is the use of a ceramic or plastic bowl to soak beans. This way, you avoid the tiny metal components that can be absorbed in the water from metal pots or pans. If you are using a plastic container, it should be new, because older plastic bowls may contain oily residues from foods previously stored in them that will seep into your bean during the rehydration process.
Beans absorb water through the hilum; it is also called the scar on a bean seed, while water absorption takes place, the beans coat becomes wrinkled, this effect will be obvious if you pick one bean seed out and closely look at its features. The wrinkling is an indication that your beans is ready to be pressure cooked. Please note that you don’t see any wrinkles on cooked beans because the cooking process makes the coat bloated and removes the wrinkles.
I admit, it is a long process to cook beans, and this can discourage many people. However, you don’t want to stay away from this delicacy, a meal of beans is delicious and rich in nutrients your family needs. So this is what you can so, try soaking beans in large quantities and you can cook when needed. This shortens the process.
Depending on the source, you may need to pass your beans through a sieve to remove some sand and stones. This selection can also be made manually with your hands. After removing the visible stones and debris, you can proceed with the soaking process.
Many people prefer the long soaking method because it is quite effective. Here is how it is done;
Place your beans in a ceramic bowl and cover the beans with water. The water should cover your beans at least four inches to ensure the soaking process is effective. Leave the beans to soak for about four hours. In situations where beans is soaked for longer periods, it is necessary to put the bowl in a freezer to prevent the bean seeds from sprouting. Averagely, it takes about four hours for beans to soak enough water.
Next, remove the water by decanting; you will notice some dirt on the surface, good riddance. After removing the water, it is time for rinsing.
Rinsing beans after soaking
The next step after soaking your beans is rinsing. The process of rinsing removes the softened dirt and cleans the beans further. You will notice the water used for rinsing changes its color due to the dirt removed from your beans. Rinsing beans also help to remove the complex sugars we mentioned earlier. After rinsing your beans drain off the water, you may rinse beans a second time if you are not satisfied. When this is done, it is time to pressure cook your beans.
There are many procedures to follow when pressure cooking beans. You can adopt any of the recipes from cook books that involve the use of pressure cookers.
Cooking old beans
Beans that have been stored for a very long time is called old beans. If the preservation method is effective, you should not have any worries. However, a common problem faced when cooking old beans is the long time required for the bean seeds to soften. You will need to soak old beans for a long time, and even after cooking, the beans remain hard. It has been an issue for a long time; chefs and farmers have tagged this type of beans “Hard to Cook” (HTC). A well-deserved name too.
When it is discovered that beans remain hard even after proper cooking, the reasons for this happening are attributed to the poor storage methods. Somewhere along the line the temperature may have been compromised and become too high, causing the HTC problem. Also, beans that have been stored for too long can also lead to this unfortunate experience. To avoid buying HTC beans, you should try to find out the date of storage and the storage conditions. The temperature in beans storage rooms should be about 45 0C at high temperature and about 100 0C if you want to dry the beans during storage.
Care should be taken when drying beans during storage. Exceeding the recommended temperature can cause the beans to become too hard and very difficult to cook. Here is a solution for the HTC beans; you will need to soak the beans for a much longer period to see the wrinkles on the beans coat which indicate it is ready for cooking. It will also be necessary to cook the beans for a longer time to soften it to the texture you need. However, you must ensure that enough water has been put in the container before cooking HTC beans to allow adequate absorption of water while the beans cook. This is how the bean seeds become softened.
Here is a tip to avoid wasting too much time, if you are not sure about the state of your beans, you can first pressure cook a handful or less of the beans. After the normal cooking time, check the beans. If it is not soft, and ready to eat, you may have just bought the HTC beans. If the quantity you bought is much, consider returning the beans, and ask for a change, or buy new beans from another seller.
In the market, farmers have been using a trick to sell beans faster. Considering the general perception about beans is the difficulty in cooking, they label beans for sale as ‘quick cooking’ beans. This is not a scam; the beans you buy from these shelves will cook quickly without any problems. What happened is that the farmers have already soaked the beans and ensured it is properly rehydrated before packaging the beans for sale. Good move right? You can consider this option to avoid stress; however, I may argue that the outcome after cooking pre-soaked beans is slightly different from the beans you soak yourself.
In conclusion, beans is a delicacy; you can make plans and soak your beans for the best results. Be patient and follow the process carefully. In the end, the outcome will be worth the effort.