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Unread 12-31-2010, 02:30 PM   #1
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Default Homemade Bean Failure - Need Help Please

I've been on a little mission lately to try and replicate family dishes that my mom, aunt and mother-in-law make so that I can pass these recipes down to my kids to keep them alive. My first recipe was my mom's baked bean recipe. It's nothing wild or crazy, but gettting the proportions right did take a few tries. It is basically Pork-n-Beans, ketchup, sugar and ground ginger. I've made it enough times this summer that at the last family function, I asked my dad how were the beans. He said they were good and then I told him that I cooked them instead of mom and he said he would have never known the difference if I hadn't told him and belive me if he could have told the difference, he would have said something.

With the holiday and being inside today with the weather, I decided to try and make the bean recipe with uncooked beans instead of beans from a can. I purchased a 4# bag of great northern beans. The recipe on the bag says to take 1# of beans and boil them for 2 minutes in 12 cups of water that has 2 tsp of salt. After boiling for 2 minutes, cover and remove from heat and lest sit for 1 hour. I did that. The recipe then says to bring back to a boil and then simmer for 90 minutes. I didn't bring them back to a boil and simmer for 90 more minutes. I drained them , put them in a corningware dish with the extra ingredients and into a 400º oven for 60 mintues. I just tried them and they are still crunchy. I assumed that I ddin't need to simmer for 90 minutes since I was going to continue cooking, but that isn't the case.

Does anyone know if I was to simmer for the 90 minutes and then drain and then add my ingredients and then cook in the oven like I normally do, would the beans be firm or would they be mushy?

Maybe a better question would be, what do I need to do to get the beans to the softness of canned beans?

I've attached some of the pics of the cook today.

1# of beans

After 2 minute boil and 1 hour rest

In the corningware dish

After 1 hour in a 400º oven
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Unread 12-31-2010, 03:01 PM   #2
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Not a fan but i will tell you my mother used to make them all the time and it seems to me she soaked those things overnite. I know it was much longer than two hours
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Unread 12-31-2010, 03:03 PM   #3
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When I cook with dried beans, I like to soak them overnight. I'll usually bring water to a boil, add the beans, cover, and let sit until the next day. Then I like to crock pot them for a good 4-6 hours.

Based on your description of cooking with the beans, I would question a few things:

1 - Boiling with Salt - I heard that salting your beans early like this would make the skins tough. This was either Julia Child on TV or a website about beans when I was figuring out how to cook with them.

2 - Only a 1 hr soak. I think my bags of beans give this as a suggested way to work with them. I've never tried it but you are probably fine.

3) 1.5 hour cook time. This seems short to me, too. But without the initial 90 minute simmer you are way short on simmer time given that it probably took the oven 30 minutes to get the sauce to simmer temp.

So I guess you need to decide if you want to save steps and cook in the oven for a longer period (would probably require aluminum foil to keep the sauce moist),or if you want a faster cook (would do some simmering in water on the stove).

My personal recommendation would be a longer soak and using the crock pot for a longer cook. The only downside to this method is that your sauce tends to stay watery,where an oven would help to thicken up a sauce via evaporation. If your recipe is for the oven, you might need to find a way to get some extra fluid out of there.
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Unread 12-31-2010, 03:05 PM   #4

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I think you didn't boil them long enough. Possibly adding some water and baking them for another hour may soften them up, that is what I would try.

I use navy beans a lot here.
I buy them from a grain elevator about 9 miles up the road from our house.
I sort them, boil them for about 20, turn off the burner and cover. I let them sit over night.
Change the water and reboil them until they are somewhat soft before adding my ingredients.
I normally throw in a cup of catsup, mustard and brown sugar if I am making a couple pounds of baked beans, less for a 1# batch.
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Unread 12-31-2010, 03:05 PM   #5
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Like mentioned above, I think most uncooked beans require an overnight soak. You can always boil them longer if you don't want to soak them that long, good luck.
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Unread 12-31-2010, 03:07 PM   #6
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Most recipes I've used for dried beans warn against adding salt before the beans are tender.
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Unread 12-31-2010, 03:41 PM   #7
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Soak them over night . Do not add salt till the end of cooking..
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Unread 12-31-2010, 03:41 PM   #8
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You can do the short boil then quick soak or the overnight soak. Either way you need to cook them before making your bean recipe. Salt at the beginning of cooking will make the outer skin tough. 90 minute simmer should be plenty of cook time for a bean you're making a dish with that will be cooked more. The soak is to leach some of the indigestible sugar from the outer skin. It doesn't do much for how the finished cooked bean comes out. You can cook without soaking. The sugar is what causes gas problems in people who are sensitive to it.
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Unread 12-31-2010, 03:56 PM   #9
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I cook a lot of beans - I soak for at least 8 hours. If I don't have that time, I will boil them and then simmer them for an hour and then let them rest in the hot water for as long as possible.

Always use fresh water for cooking - not the water you soaked them in.

NEVER add salt until the beans are soft (to your liking).

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