You can cook black or tan soybeans as you would other dry beans, by first soaking and then using your cooking method of choice. Because soybeans are one of the longest-cooking dry legumes -- up to three hours in a saucepan -- it pays to learn faster ways to soak and cook the soybeans than the usual overnight soaking and long-simmering process.
Shorten the Soaking
The quick-soak method doesn't save you actual cooking time if you are preparing beans in a conventional method, but it does keep you from having to set your dinner back hours if you forgot to soak the beans overnight. Start by rinsing dry soybeans, then setting the beans in pot with enough water to cover them to a depth of 3 inches. Turning the burner to high, bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat so that the beans simmer for two minutes. After removing the beans from the heat, let them soak for one hour, covered, before draining and proceeding with your cooking method of choice.
Apply Some Pressure
An electric or stovetop pressure cooker is the fastest cooking method for dried beans. The process allows you to cook soaked dried soybeans in as little as 12 minutes, compared to the three hours conventional methods require. Instructions for setting up the cooker vary according to the kind you have, but in general the water and beans should take up no more than half of the cooker, and the cooker should be set to 15 pounds of pressure. Unless your cooker's instructions say otherwise, cool the cooker under running water to quickly release pressure so you can serve the beans.
Zap Away Minutes
The basic microwave method involves putting drained, soaked soybeans in a large microwave-safe casserole dish or bowl and enough water to cover them by several inches. Start by microwaving them, covered, on high for 10 minutes, or until you can see the water boiling. Then, cook the beans at 50 percent power for 15 minutes, stir and cook for another 15 minutes at 50 percent power. Continue checking and stirring the beans until they are tender. Soybeans may take as long as 55 minutes.
Think It Through
All soybean cooking methods have their pros and cons. Opinions vary about whether microwave cooking will properly soften and cook dried beans. Consult your own microwave's instruction booklet if in doubt. The locking mechanism on modern pressure cookers make them safer than older models, but it's still important to make sure the equipment is in good working order, and that you are careful of the steam when opening the cooker. The stovetop and baked beans are the slowest traditional methods, while crock pots take at least six hours to cook beans, and tend to result in either overcooked or scorched beans.
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Ellen Douglas has written on food, gardening, education and the arts since 1992. Douglas has worked as a staff reporter for the Lakeville Journal newspaper group. Previously, she served as a communication specialist in the nonprofit field. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Connecticut.
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