The culinary world is full of myths, legends and prejudices: only chilled egg whites can be whipped, gelatin can never be boiled, soda must be “quenched” in a spoon, yeast dough is afraid of drafts …
One of the most common and frequently repeated directions concerns dry legumes in general and beans in particular.
Say, if you add salt at the very beginning of cooking, the beans will remain hard until the second coming, or even never boil.
In an attempt to figure out where the ban came from salting water when cooking beans, we looked into authoritative cookbooks.
So, in Elena Molokhovets and the book «Cooking», edited by L.A. Maslova, suggests cooking beans in unsalted water, but at the same time allow for boiling in a previously salted broth.
Such a contradiction.
Working on the book Tamar Adler “Food without rules.
The simple rules of good cuisine ”(Tamar Adler“ An Everlasting Meal ”), I noticed this passage:“ Beans need salt.
Talking about the fact that because of salt the beans are hard and tasteless — fiction.
It becomes solid from long storage, and tasteless from lack of salt. ”
Frankly, suspicions and doubts tormented me for a long time. After all, they cook the same somehow as a cassule, putting them in a bowl with beans and corned beef, and sausage, and duck leg confit — products that contain salt.
And canned beans?
The liquid in the jar is so salty that it is recommended to drain and wash the beans.
Are the beans first boiled in fresh water, and then just poured «pickle»? Kind of weird…
Cooking beans is a long process, but it does not require our close attention. And it does not matter whether we cook a glass, a pound or a kilogram — it will take the same amount of time.
A few hours, unless using a pressure cooker.
Bean dishes involve planning, you can’t cook them in a hurry.
So we decided to cook beans — cook more, let them be kept in reserve and will always be at hand.
Just do it right, with an understanding of physical and chemical processes.
Each bean consists of a shell (fiber) and the inside (protein and starch). With slow long cooking, the beans absorb water gradually and boil down evenly.
If boiling is rapid, rapidly swollen starch breaks up the dense shell, and as a result bean porridge turns out in the pan.
But sometimes even with the observance of the temperature regime and pre-soaking of the beans, the shell bursts, while remaining fairly solid, while the interior is already completely ready.
And what if you add a little salt to the water?
I took 500 grams of regular motley beans, divided into two equal parts and poured an equal volume of cold water from the tap (1.5 l).
In one part added a full teaspoon of salt, stirred.
After 24 hours, I poured water and checked the state of the beans: it was slightly swollen and noticeably discolored.
After rinsing both batches under running water, I put each into a steel ladle with a thick bottom, poured an equal volume of 2.5 liters of cold water.
In the party soaked in salted water, added a teaspoon of salt.
Put the buckets on the same burner with the same heating force.
I took the first sample after 45 minutes. Salted beans were almost ready, the second batch was still far from being ready.
Half an hour later she tried again, and took the first batch from the fire. The beans, which were boiled in fresh water, took another 15 minutes. During this time, it burst — not to porridge, but the “presentation” suffered.
Another thing is important: the salted beans looked more appetizing and were much tastier!
She wanted to carry one of the buckets and eat like nuts!
It turns out that calcium and magnesium ions contained in tap water form strong bonds with the pectin molecules in the shell of the beans, making it tough.
During soaking and cooking in salted water, sodium ions replace calcium and magnesium ions, the bonds weaken and the shell becomes more elastic. So much so that under the onslaught of starch does not burst, but gently stretches, allowing the bean to increase in volume, while remaining whole. That is, salt acts as a tap water softener!
In addition, salted water has a higher temperature than fresh.
For some tenths of a degree, but that’s enough.
Thus, the beans, soaked and cooked with the addition of salt or salty foods (broth, bacon or smoked meats) are even, one to one, equally soft inside and outside.
It is also tasty in itself, although it can certainly become the basis of any dish: simple salad, stew, soup or lobio.
If you need to turn it into a puree, it is enough to knead it with a tolkushka or process it with a blender — it will easily succumb.
Is it worth it to soak the beans?
Yes, of course, and it is better in salted water: the boiling time of the beans will be reduced by about 45 minutes.
In addition, pre-soaked beans evenly absorb water during cooking. Soak beans can be at night (that is, 8-12 hours), and for a day. If the beans have to “take a bath” for more than 24 hours, change the water and move the bowl to the refrigerator or to another cool place, otherwise the fermentation process will begin: small bubbles will appear and an unpleasant, sour smell.
Even if it happened, nothing terrible, just pour out the water, rinse the beans under running water and start cooking!
If you have planned to cook a dish with beans, but forgot to soak it, proceed as follows: put the beans in a wide saucepan, cover with cold water for seven to ten centimeters and put on a moderate fire. As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat, cover the pan with a lid and leave it alone for an hour. Then change the water to fresh cold, add a pinch of salt and cook the beans until soft.
When this softness comes, depends on how long the beans are stored — the longer, the longer it takes.
And salt has nothing to do with it!
Some more tips from my experience:
— I usually boil a kilogram of beans, with the addition of salt, an onion, in which I stick 3-4 carnation buds, carrots, bay leaves and greens that are on hand: thyme, celery, parsley. Sometimes I add some olive oil;
— It is better to cook the beans “in width” rather than “in height”: in a high narrow saucepan heavy upper layers of beans press down the lower ones, and they can burn;
— It is very convenient to cook the beans in a roasting pan (under the lid) in the oven: the heating is even and calm, the water will not boil out.
Only first you need to boil water over direct fire, and then rearrange it in a moderately heated oven (160-165 C). I sometimes leave beans to stew for several hours in the oven, cooling down after baking bread;
— I put the cooked “in reserve” beans in plastic containers or bags with a fastener, pour in the bean broth and freeze them. A great alternative to canned beans;
— All the above applies to all varieties of dry beans, chickpeas and beans.