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January 20, 2006 2:20 PM   Subscribe

How do you cook navy beans so the "outer shell" doens't come off?

I soak them overnight in cold water, then salt and simmer them for about 30 minutes before I want to eat them. But the thin outer shells come off which makes them look gross. I've seen restaurants where they cook navy beans without this problem. Any tips?
posted by lpctstr; to Food & Drink (10 answers total)
 
I've had the same thing happen with other types of beans. I think it has something to do with the soaking time--beans are designed to open up when they're soaked, so that they can sprout (though of course that's not what you want here).

I think doing the "quick-soak" method (put beans in pot with water, boil 1-2 minutes, put lid on, turn off the heat, let sit for one hour) instead of an overnight soak helps, but I haven't paid very close attention to the phenomenon.
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:11 PM on January 20, 2006


Every time I make beans using the soak-then-cook method, they lose their skins. But when I make beans in the crockpot, this never happens. No presoak -- just all night on high then all day on low.

So I agree with needs more cowbell.
posted by climalene at 3:19 PM on January 20, 2006


beans are designed to open up when they're soaked

but were they intelligently designed?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:06 PM on January 20, 2006


I love beans and have never made them perfectly. However, I think what will help is to wash them again (vigorously) after their overnight soak. I do this and have much less of a problem with shells/skins.
posted by snsranch at 5:30 PM on January 20, 2006


I wouldn't forego the soak altogether. Soaking beans removes some of the compounds that produce the unfortunate side effects for which beans are famous. If you stick them straight in the crock pot without doing at least a quick soak, you end up with a full dose.
posted by rhiannon at 6:32 PM on January 20, 2006


For cannelli beans the trick is to never let the water even bubble. Bring the water to a boil and then instantly cover and let cook as low as possible. If the water is bubbling you are cooking to high. Don't stir them, don't do nothing. It takes a while for them to cook but if you do it right they turn out whole and perfect, mmm.

Oh and I presoak for a day and don't rise the water out precooking.
posted by aspo at 7:41 PM on January 20, 2006


needs more cowbell suggested a quick-soak method - how about no-soak? At the restaurant where I work, we cook pinto beans in a pressure cooker. No soaking beforehand, just beans and water in the pot, then salt after - because they're then mashed for making burritos and such. (Yum!) Anyway, a few of the beans on the very top layer lose some skin, but in nearly the entire pot the beans stay whole.
posted by attercoppe at 9:20 PM on January 20, 2006


You should add salt after cooking. Maybe this description of how to cook dried beans is also useful.
posted by davar at 2:43 AM on January 21, 2006


TheOnlyCoolTim, "designed" was a figure of speech, and probably one I shouldn't have used there...
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:50 AM on January 21, 2006


Just busting balls, man...
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:07 PM on January 21, 2006


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