Dried Beans are Tastiest, and Easy to Prepare
Mixed beans can provide the base for a variety of tasty meals, either as the star of the show or versatile side dish. While it's easy to open up a can or two of beans and call it a day, beans you've cooked from dry will have a better flavor and texture. There's little hands-on time involved: Cooking up a pot of mixed beans simply requires soaking them overnight and simmering them for hours, with little to no attention from you.
Spread your dry beans on a kitchen towel and sort through them, removing any broken or shriveled beans, stones and other debris.
Rinse the sorted beans in cool running water.
Put the beans in a large bowl and cover them with 2 or 3 inches of lightly salted water, then let them soak overnight. This removes some of the indigestible sugars from the beans that tend to cause flatulence in many people.
Drain and rinse the beans.
Put the beans in a large pot and cover with two or three inches of water, stock, or broth. Don't add salt to the cooking water, because it toughens the beans' skins and slows their cooking. Use low sodium broth or stock or begin cooking your beans in water and add broth or stock with salt partway through the cooking process. Wait until the beans are nearly done to add any seasonings.
Bring the pot to a boil, then cover the pot, reduce the heat and simmer the beans, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if needed. Cooking time varies depending on the size of the beans, type of beans and the age of the beans. A pot of mixed beans should take one to two hours to cook. Beans are done when they are tender enough to be mashed with a fork.
Add desired seasonings or other ingredients, like ham, bacon, onions or peppers, when the beans are about halfway done cooking.
Add any acidic ingredients like tomatoes at the very end of your cooking time, once the beans are tender, because acidity can toughen the beans. This is also the appropriate time to add extra salt, if it's needed.
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- Add a couple bay leaves or a generous pinch of cumin to your beans while cooking them to reduce their gas-producing properties, as suggested by Whole Foods Market.
Kelly Morris has been making a living as a writer since 2004. She attended the College of Mount St. Joseph with a major in social work and minor in women's studies. Her work has appeared in a number of print publications including Caregivers Home Companion, Midwifery Today and Guide.