Okay, guys.  I don’t ask for much.  Maybe the occasional steady commitment to a t.v. series.  Sporadic support for an online campaign.  Help choosing episode titles. But, today, I need you to do me a solid.  I realize it may be a lot to ask and many of you may feel uncomfortable, so, please, don’t feel like you have to respond.

No, forget it.  I’m imposing.  Forget I mentioned it.  I’ll just find a way to muddle through it.

Of course, it would be A LOT easier if one of you were able to help.

But it’s too much to ask.  I’m being a bother.

Then again, I suppose it doesn’t hurt to throw it out there.  Still…

Okay, okay.  I’m going to ask anyway and, if any of you feel I’ve crossed a line, tell me.  Or, better yet, ignore this request.  Delete this blog entry from your consciousness like not so much as any residual memories of Movie 43.  Deal?

Fine.  I’m asking…

Anyone have a good bean recipe?

The last time Akemi made beans, they remained rock solid after some six hours of cooking.  We’re looking at preparing butter beans with smoked pork chops, garlic, and bay leaf.  Mom’s navy bean recipe calls for bringing the beans to a boil, then allowing them to simmer overnight.  Does that sound right to you?  Anyone have experience cooking dried white beans?  Any insider secrets you’d care to impart?

Was that too much?  Did I overstep the bounds of our online friendship?  If so, apologies.  If not, do you think adding salt during the cooking process will harden the beans?

Maybe I should start a patreon for butter bean recipes.

50 thoughts on “June 5, 2018: I need you to do me a favor! No, forget I asked! Wait, maybe if you’re willing to hear me out… No, never mind. I’ve already taken up too much of your time. Then again, on the off-chance you can do me this solid…

  1. Oh, how I wish my mom were still alive to answer this question. She might, however, refer you to THE JOY OF COOKING by Rombauer & Becker or the GOOD HOUSEKEEPING COOK BOOK.

  2. I’ve never heard of Movie 43. I guess that’s a good thing.

    My mom *always* would let the beans soak overnight before even beginning any of the preparation process. My understanding was that if that wasn’t done, they would come out hard as a rock. Her baked beans were always awesome, too.

  3. Soak overnight then bring beans to a boil and let them boil for about 30 minutes then reduce to a simmer for the next 3 hours…after the first 10 minutes is the simmer stage I add salt and any spices. Hope this helps!

    1. “Ditto” to Katie’s suggestion. It’s best to soak dried beans overnight before cooking them. However, I have had some success in crock-potting dried beans for, like, 12 hours and having them come out tender. Still, soaking them overnight is best.

  4. Pretty much anything involving working with died beans will start with soaking the beans overnight. Once you do that you can basically follow any recipe as if you were using canned.

    For cooking them up quicker a pressure cooker works wonders. But for simplicity sake soak them overnight and then go to town with whatever recipe.

  5. Bean Cookers Assemble!! alright, so, my girl uses a crock pot. Beans in and enough water that they are well covered. This soaks overnight, no heat. Next day, drain and add water again, and cook like allll day. If she wants to add things ( meat, veggies ) throw them in when there is an hour or so to go, or they cook down to tasty sludge. Which can also be good. I guess this is more process than recipe, but bon apetit!

  6. The secret is the salt. Only add the salt at the end of the cooking process. For some reason, if you add the salt when you first put the beans on to cook, they never really get soft.

  7. Yes, like gforce said, soak them overnight. They are dirty, so soaking gives you a chance to wash them too. They’ll still cook without soaking but it will take longer. I start them in a crock pot with a ham-hock with water over them in the morning. Easy peasy.

      1. Oh my. I’m not making a lot of sense right now. Sorry. I meant if you do want baked beans. I’ve been up since 4;30 am.. That’s my excuse…

      2. I love to go to Taste of Home for recipes and reading the comments! recipe sounds yummy.
        Good luck Joe and Akemi..

  8. We cook dried beans all the time, these days solely in a crock pot. I soak larger beans (red beans, great northerns) overnight and will occasionally soak smaller ones, too. While they don’t really need it, it helps with getting the liquid right since you can’t scorch beans soaking at room temperature as opposed to actively cooking beans that are still being tiny sponges.

    All we do is put the beans in the crock, add water (or my preference is homemade unseasoned chicken broth), chop up an onion, dice up some garlic, toss in a bay leaf or two, dice some fresh cayennes when we have them, and add a smoked, seasoned meat. Cook that on high for 5-6 hours or until the beans are no longer dry on the inside and your juice is the consistency you like, then eat!

    My meat of choice is a locally-made and very spicy smoked pork sausage, though the meat can change depending on the bean. Sausage is my go-to for red beans and blackeyes, while I’ll lean toward smoked ham or tasso (spicy Cajun ham) for navy and lima beans. But really, any smoked meat in any bean dish is wonderful.

    I’ve never heard of salt hardening beans, but we generally don’t add salt to anything while cooking. It’s the one seasoning that tastes as good, or sometimes better, added just before eating. Also, it won’t all get sucked up by the starchy beans meaning you’ll have to salt again to get that salty taste while all that extra sodium is still in there.

    1. Yum! Those sound like some good beans. I’ll have to try the broth, onions and garlic next time.

      1. Tom: Your recipe reminds me of a Black eyed pea dish from a church cookbook.
        1 (16 oz) bag of black eyed peas
        1 medium onion, peeled
        8 to 10 whole cloves
        4 garlic cloves, minced
        1 cup chopped red bell pepper
        1 t. red pepper flakes
        1/4 lb country ham, chopped
        4 cups (give or take) chicken broth
        water, if needed

        Rinse peas and clear out debris. Place the peas, onion w/cloves studded into it, garlic, bell pepper, pepper flakes and ham in a slow cooker. Cover with broth/water and stir every hour until peas are done and liquid is creamy. Add water if needed. Remove onion studded with cloves before serving.

        See what you’ve started Mr. M.! 🙂

    2. Tom has the process down pat. I was going to give you almost the exact same advice. About the only difference would be that I make a homemade beef broth combined with a flavorful store bought veg broth to cool them in plus we add about a cup of white wine. Everything else he said is spot on!

  9. I’m not a big fan of beans.
    My suggestion would be to put the beans in a large pot, cover with water, put in a cup of small rocks, put a lid on it, and simmer overnight.
    In the morning separate the beans from the rocks, throw away the beans and eat the rocks. Salt and pepper to taste.
    But that’s just me. 😜

  10. If you have a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, this recipe worked well, other than the cooking time, which I found to be way too short. Granted, I only soaked the beans for 8 hrs rather than “overnight,” but I defy you to find an official definition of “overnight” that cooks all agree on. Anyway, I had to leave the beans cooking closer to three hours in the main step, but they were very tasty. https://www.pressurecookingtoday.com/pressure-cooker-baked-beans/

  11. Dried beans need to soak overnight(8 hours) in slightly salted water, then cook them as you did. A cayenne pepper is always a nice touch alon with a few cloves of garlic.

  12. Put beans into stockpot. Add triple the amount of water to beans. Add a pinch of baking soda to assist with toughness. Beans should not be more than 4 months old. Bring beans to a light simmer, turn off heat. 24 hours later you can rinse off the beans.
    You can use a Crock-Pot but it doesn’t save time. Crock-Pot on high for 1 hour, turn off Crock-Pot, soak 24 hours.
    You can use an instant pot which is what I use these days because it only takes 90 minutes TOTAL. Manual high pressure for 30 minutes with sealed valve. Let pressure naturally release for 30 minutes, then release remaining pressure and open lid. You can do your aromatics in the pressure pot at the same time.
    I hope this helps & our friendship survives this request for assistance

  13. Joe, for all the wonderful stories and awesome tv shows, how to cook beans is not too much to ask. First off, take the beans and sort them. By this I mean, dump them on the cutting board, the counter, whatever flat surface you have and sort through them. Keep in mind, they are an agricultural product, subject to all kinds of rocks, pebbles, etc. Throw the beans, not the rocks in a colander and rinse. Clean em up. The beans now can go into a pot. Cover them with water. They should be submerged completely, at least a couple of inches of water. This is to allow for expansion. The beans should soak over night, or at least until they are twice their original, hard little selves.

    So now the next day. Discard the soaking water. Good for plants, not so good for people or cute little dogs. Fill up the pot with clean water for cooking. Place on stove, slow cooker or whatever and set on high. Can come to a boil then turn down for a nice slow simmer. Cover the pot. Check them a few time to make sure they are still completely covered with water. Total time for cooking will vary depending on altitude, method of cooking, or time distortion, you get my point. You will have to be the best judge of that.

    When the beans are tender, that is when you would want to add oil, salt, pepper. Remember, adding salt or oil before the beans are tender will result in tough beans, and as we know, tough beans is just “tough beans”. There you have it.

    My most favorite bean recipe is one I made up:

    Cranberry beans, about two cups
    generous amounts of cut up carrots, fresh or frozen
    lots of celery, cut up
    two Bay leaves, just throw them in the pot
    one whole onion, the sweet ones are best also cut up
    generous handful of Italian seasoning

    All this goes into the pot together with lots of water, and slowly cooks covered until the beans are tender. Then pour in some olive oil, lots of garlic salt, celery salt, and pepper. Adjust seasoning and enjoy!

  14. Soaking them over night helps. I have done that with Dried Kidney and Garbanzo beans. I typically use pressure cooker . Timing varies as per beans. In pressure cooker they are done in 4 whistles at medium flame.

  15. I’ve always been a fan of Bush’s Grillin’ Beans or their Ranch beans, when paired with smoked meats.

  16. To echo many who have responded.
    The key first step is to soak the beans overnight – at least 6-8 hours.
    All dried beans need this as a first step. Fill BIG pot with water, put in beans so that it is under at least 3-4 inches of water.

    My mommy used to rinse the beans first – surprising how much junk may be in the bag with the beans.

    Then follow Mama Mallozzi’s recipe.
    Please do let us know how it goes.

  17. Hi! My grandma’s method:
    • soak the beans over night with salt, rinse off before you start cooking
    • add 1-2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar, it doesn’t change the taste but it’s a good tenderizer

    Hope it helps!

  18. Here ya go!
    Prep time: 5 mins
    Cook time: 25 mins
    Total time: 30 mins
    Serves: 4 to 6

    Butter Beans sauteed and simmered with caramelized sweet onions, celery, lean bacon, crushed red pepper and fresh butter beans.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    16-ounce fresh butter beans (rinsed of course)
    2 Tbsp. butter
    2 Tbsp. olive oil (hopefully virgin or at least an oil that hasn’t been around the block a few times).
    1 large Vidalia onion – chopped
    1 stalk of celery – sliced thinly
    ⅛ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
    5 slices of lean bacon (not that your bacon leans due to laziness…this means trim off excess fat…not on you….the bacon).
    1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
    salt and black pepper, to taste

    What you gotta do:

    In a medium pot, over medium heat, add olive oil and butter. Add in the chopped onions, and cook the onions until softened, about 5 minutes.
    Add the celery and bacon to the onions and reduce heat to simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook for about 8 to 10 minutes more, until the onions and celery caramelize, or turn golden brown.
    Add in the Butter Beans and crushed red pepper. Stir the butter beans and saute the beans for about 1 minute or until fragrant.
    Pour in the vegetable broth and Cover with a lid.
    Simmer Butter Beans for 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
    Turn off heat. Taste, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm….the beans, not you. Well, it’s okay to have a warm smile as you serve.

  19. I see all the bean advice has been given. Excellent. Anyone have good lentil recipes (without potatoes or tomatoes)?

    I’m making cheddar cauliflower soup this afternoon. We didn’t get around to roasting the head we got to make Korean BBQ Cauliflower, so soup it is. Probably followed by a batch of carrot soup for freezing in “pucks”. Makes a wonderful base for stew or tomato-less chili.

  20. Joe, the many ways that you asked then backed off then asked again, just shows me what an excellent writer you are. I imagine you don’t spend a huge amount of time on this blog, but the kind of writing you do, would take me a VERY long time to come up with the clever witticisms that seem to come to you so easily. I’m a great admirer of this blog…I only get a little weepy when you mention Dark Matter…it still really stings me. Thanks.

  21. I think you’ve totally overstepped the bounds of our relationship, Joe. I’m leaving!

  22. Oh, alright. I can’t stay mad at you.

    I have to admit, I don’t cook with dried beans. I use canned. Although I can’t find canned haricot (navy) beans here in Australia so I might have to start using dried for my Chicken, Pancetta and Bean Casserole. I’ve been using cannellini beans but it’s not the same.

    I’ve heard that tomatoes can make beans tough so if you’re using tomatoes in your recipe add them towards the end of cooking (or, if you’re using canned beans like me, I add the beans at the end since they really just need warming).

  23. Recently, I cooked some great northern beans. It took unusually forever and they still did not get very soft. That had never happened to me before. I noticed the expiration date on the beans had expired. Yep, I guess uncooked beans can expire too. Maybe that is what happened to Akemi’s beans. Maybe she had some really old beans.

    Buy some fresher beans and just try again. Lots of great recommendations above.

  24. I’m sure lots of people responded and gave you their best bean recipes. I tend to “not” follow a recipe. So… my advice is to follow your mom’s recipes. That’s it. It’s as simple as that. The only thing I’d recommend is to make sure you have LOT OF WATER if you simmer overnight. My method: 1) I clean and then soak the beans overnight, 2) the next day I rinse and add fresh water, 3) boil till soft. Sometimes, I take a cup of beans, purée, and season. You can use that as your base instead of opening a can of broth. Keep a recipe journal so you can repeat anything that turns out the best. I wish you the best 🏆

  25. I wish I had a bean recipe to give you. I have thought it a long process with the overnight soaking. while living alone in Chicago I did pick up a few “live lessons”. One, a good crock pot is an essential (one of God’s wonders). Two, following written instruction a must. Beans are not that complicated but require time. Soaking them over night is preferred but not a must. You can use a low simmer to speed the process a few hours. Usually the prep work can be done while the beens simmer. Simple is preferred.

  26. Now I’m hungry for beans oh yeah soaking them overnight is the only way to do it then a crock pot is the best way to cook them. Enjoy.

  27. If your beans are hard even after soaking and cooking, they were too old. Make sure your dried beans were procured recently. I speak from experience. 🙂

  28. The secret passed down in our family from mother to daughter throughout the ages from the dawn of time ( well actually from the 50’s) is to soak overnight then cook in pressure cooker for about an hour. I also make bean soup that way. Good luck sir!

  29. I know nothing about beans. I have also never heard of “Movie 43”. Now I wonder if that means I never saw it or that I successfully deleted it from my consciousness?

  30. According to our Linda McCartney cookbook you soak the butter beans overnight in plenty of water to cover them. To cook, drain off the soaking water and rinse them. Put in a saucepan and cover with fresh water. Add a bay leaf and a slice of onion or two for extra flavour. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 1 to 1 and a half hours until tender. Wait to add salt until 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time as it toughens the skins and gardens them if you add it earlier.

    Having said all that, life is too short. We always buy them tinned. Far easier!

  31. I soaked them 3 hours. Then 45 minutes on my instant pot with a whole green onion and some bacon bits. NO SALT. Then on a pan I prepare some chopped tomatoes with chopped white onion, pepper, salt, and cumin. Once the 45 minutes passed, I let the beans to release pressure naturally (without opening the valve) and then I add the sauce I prepared. Finally I set the instant pot to slow cook for 2 hours.

  32. For dried beans my mother always soaked them overnight to re-constitute then cooked slow usually in the over in a covered casserole dish.. but i think you can get the same effect with a slow cooker or a bit quicker in a pressure cooker

  33. I too had always been a believer in the overnight method until I picked up a pamphlet at Whole Foods that proposed a much shorter boil/soak method. Boil the beans for 3 minutes (yes, that’s right), cover and set aside for 2-4 hours. Longer doesn’t help or hinder. Throw out the water and rinse the beans well. Then proceed with cooking as usual. This method breaks down 80% of the complex sugars that give beans their fame. I’ve done this several times and always had good luck.

  34. Yeah, sounds like “soak overnight” got interplexed (as they say in Star Trek) with “cook overnight”. The only time I’ve seen “soak and boil” work was in a pressure cooker, and they were still mushy and peely. Our neighbor’s pressure cookie exploded it’s top and cracked their.

    My bro has success with his crock pot and canned beans. I’d go for good precooked beans packed in glass jars instead of cans for better flavor. Now I’m craving beans! Luckily I have dark red beans at home to pair with turkey stew.

  35. Okay, I will share my grandmothers secret with you, but only because you are awesome.
    This method not only preps your beans without overnight soaking, it de-gasses them as well. Seriously, you will not have as much gas. I don’t know why it works, but she used it, and I’ve used it for 40+ years.
    For 2 cups of uncooked beans:
    Dissolve 1/2 cup of baking soda in warm water in a large pot.
    Add your beans, then fill with water until the beans are covered by 1 inch.
    Stir well.
    Place on the stove, bring to a boil.
    Remove from heat, cover with a lid and let sit.
    Sit time varies depending on the type of bean. For example a large bean, like Kidney needs to sit about 3-4 hours. A small bean, like a white only 2. You just have to check them. When they are plump and some have skins that begin to loosen, they are ready.
    Rinse them well, then cook according to your recipe. For Kidney’s in chili, usually about an hour on low simmer will finish them off.
    You can use this, make a double or even triple batch and after the rinse, just divide them up and keep the second or third batch for later. You can keep them in the fridge for a few days, or seal them up and keep them in the freezer. Just allow a little extra cook time when adding to a recipe since they have to come up to temp first. If you have a Food Saver, you can freeze the beans on a tray, place in a bag and then shrink/seal. Yes, freeze them first, otherwise they freeze in a big squished lump that is unpleasant when thawed.

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