When I made lentil soup, I just rinsed the lentils really well and then cooked them for about 90 minutes.
All other beans like black, red, pinto, chickpeas etc. I cover with water, bring to a boil and then take them off the heat, leave the top on and let them sit for one hour. Drain, rinse well and cover with clean water and bring to a boil again. Cook 3 - 4 hours, covered - stirring every hour or so.
Or you can soak them 8 - 12 hours instead. (Then cook as above)
You can soak uncooked chickpeas for only a day(normally it takes 3 days) in the refrigerator if you add a piece of Kombu (a specific kind of seaweed). this allows you to eat them raw. A person at a potluck made some hommous with raw chickpeas and it was fabulous. Or you could just use them to top a salad.
Soak them overnight in the fridge. You can either sprout them for a few days (lay out on paper towels and spray with water to keep moist a couple times a day) or till they get a cute little tail;
or drain, rinse and bring to a boil in fresh water/broth with a small piece of konbu. Lower heat to simmer and add salt, if using, about 1/2 hour before done.
Beans freeze great. I love keeping some either soaked or already-cooked in my freezer for a quick hummous, dip, salad, or recipe calling for cooked beans. I hate seeing a recipe I want to make only to realize I have no cooked or canned beans! Defrost in fridge or micro. Easy!
It you like canned beans best; you know, that soft outer shell that almost melts in your mouth, then do dried beans like this:
Boil dried beans in plain water vigerously for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and soak for 24 hours in the water. I just leave mine on the stove overnight. Those who live in a humid climate should put the pot in the fridge, once it cools off.
The next day, drain the old water off and add fresh water. Add onion if desired. Boil until tender - a couple hours for most, chickpeas sometimes take longer.
I do most beans the fast way, using a pressure cooker.
I usually soak them overnight (8 hours).
I cook one pound of garbanzo beans about 35 minutes under pressure. I cook one pound of adzuki or Anasazi beans 20 minutes under pressure. By "under pressure" I mean from the time the pressure guage rises to the time I turn the burner off. I turn the burner on high at first so it doesn't take forever for the pressure guage to rise. When it rises I set the burner to low (but still high enough to maintain pressure).
For ordinary lentils I just soak them for a while (a few hours) and then cook them in a regular pot for about 30 minutes at a medium simmer. The nice thing about cooking this way is you can check to see that they are done. There are some types of lentils (red lentils available at East Indian stores) that cook very fast about 15 minutes.
The only dried beans I've done (to date) are chickpeas for falafel and they soften fine in a soak left for about 24 hours. The rest, I just do in a crockpot. 8 hours later, they are perfect and I don't have to fool with them at all.
I tried doing some on the stove one time, but failed miserably. It was kinda like cooking small stones and expecting them to be tender. Maybe I'll try again but then again, I may stay with ol' crockpot (I love the smell of slow-cooked beans).
Soaking overnight Is the key to good beans, lentils and split peas being the exception. I soak them in the fridge, change the water and boil them up. Never add salt or acidic ingredients to your beans untill they are soft. This toughens the skins and can ruin a pot of beans. Also, the longer dry beans sit around (at the store or in your cupboard) the longer they take to cook and the blander they taste. Buy bulk from a busy store and cook them soon!
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