What happened to my beans?
February 19, 2008 6:39 PM   Subscribe

What is going on with my beans?!

So, I'm cooking up some Micasa red beans. I soaked them for a few hours, drained them, and stuck them in the fridge till this evening. Now, I'm simmering them as directed and they are losing what little color they had, very unappetizing looking!

Is there something wrong with my beans? I'm new to cooking dried beans, so I'm not sure if this is okay. Will this affect the taste at all?
posted by Loto to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
 
Googling does not reveal that kind of bean as existing. Personally, I've had red beans lose much of their color into soaking and cooking water. They seemed ok in the eating. Maybe your beans are kind of old? I don't think that makes them unsafe to eat.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:07 PM on February 19, 2008


Here is chuck's recipe and it is the one I base my red beans recipe on. I don't know what recipe you are following but I've found that the directions on the back of a bag of beans is not always handy. What I do is soak them over night, rinse them then put them in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours. What you're looking for is a bean that is firm but done all the way through. It helps to put at least a half pound of some kind of fatty cured pork like whole bacon or hog jowl (if you can get it) in there with the beans while they cook. The beans soak up the fat and make a thick kind of gravy that is soooo good. After that it's kind of up to you what other things you want to add to your pot. But I also like to let them sit over night and let the flavors meld together. Try the slow cooker if you can and see if you don't get better results.
posted by nola at 7:07 PM on February 19, 2008


But if they are turning pale that is not bad, thats normal.
posted by nola at 7:08 PM on February 19, 2008


Also, welcome to the world of dried beans! My biggest suggestion is to get a pressure cooker, since it dramatically cuts the cooking time. Rapid-heat-soaked beans seem to cause less gas.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:09 PM on February 19, 2008


Oh, sorry, Micasa is the brand of bean. A cheaper version of Goya, apparently. Saved me twenty cents per bag!

Yeah, they look kind of purplish/pale reddish. The fat sounds delicious, but I'm watching my intake to shed a few pounds so just plains beans for me.

Since my question is essentially answered, I'd love to have more delicious bean recipes ;)
posted by Loto at 7:16 PM on February 19, 2008


Don't salt your beans until after cooking. I think they are good over rice, or cooked up with some green chile into a nice stew.

Also, overthinking your beans will make them taste bad.
posted by yohko at 7:20 PM on February 19, 2008


I make beans with zucchini, tomatoes and lots of garlic and black pepper. Bacon is optional but delicious. Once your beans are just about cooked, add in your chopped vegies, then some tomato paste, garlic and pepper.
posted by indienial at 7:38 PM on February 19, 2008


I seem to remember there being an episode of America's Test Kitchen where they solved this problem. Had something to do with water chemistry.
posted by gjc at 7:54 PM on February 19, 2008


Don't salt your beans until after cooking.

This is untrue, actually. Old wives' tale. The story goes that salting beans before they're done will toughen the skins and the beans will never get tender. It's untrue. Adding acid too early will have that effect.

As to the original question, the skins fade as they cook for almost all red beans (but not kidney beans). You're not doing anything wrong.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:10 PM on February 19, 2008


When the beans "turn" meaning they just start to get soft while cooking, drain the water and replace it with fresh water and start cooking them again. Then do all of your seasoning. This will SIGNIFICANTLY reduce the amount of gas you will get from them after eating. This applies for all kinds of beans cooked from dried beans.
posted by tamitang at 8:50 PM on February 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Salting is fine. A tiny bit of baking soda will help preserve color but don't add too much or you will get an off flavor and the skins will not soften to your satisfaction.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:50 AM on February 20, 2008


This month's Cooks Illustrated found that the optimal process is to brine the beans (soak in salted water about 45 minutes) and then cook in unsalted water that never breaks a simmer (makes the beans explode and skins pop). The brining makes the skins more tender but not so thin and fragile.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:10 AM on February 20, 2008


Second overnight soaking. Beans take a long time to cook, especially organic beans, which these are apparently not but still. Beans always lose most of color for me - I don't mind. I do add very tiny bit of salt as they are cooked, because beans are naturally slightly salty, at least when compared to something like rice. But that small amount of salt does no harm to them.
posted by rainy at 1:51 AM on February 21, 2008


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