A classic dish of traditional cuisine, but not for this less tasty, dried beans are essential for all those who wish to follow a healthy diet. Dried beans are very rich in nutrients necessary for the proper health of our body. Considering that canned beans are not particularly tasty, knowing how to cook dry beans correctly is helpful and allows you to make a good impression with friends and relatives because it is an exceptionally functional food in the kitchen at all periods of the year for the preparation of delicious dishes.
Characteristics Of The Main Varieties Of Beans
Beans are one of the most nutritious foods that exist, so much so that they are often used, precisely because of this characteristic, as a substitute for proteins in vegetarian and vegan diets. Beans are, first of all, rich in lecithin, a substance belonging to the lipid family that has the property of making the disposal of fats easier and faster, preventing them from accumulating in the blood and thus reducing cholesterol—bad present inside the organism.
Furthermore, beans are very rich in vitamins, especially vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamins of group B, and mineral salts such as zinc, phosphorus, iron, and potassium. Then, the skin of the beans contains a large amount of fiber, which is especially true for the skin of black beans and lima beans. Fibers have numerous beneficial properties for the body, such as long-lasting satiety and allowing intestinal regularity.
Precisely due to the large number of nutrients they contain, beans are a decidedly caloric food: 100 grams of dry beans have 300 calories, which can slightly increase or decrease depending on the different types of bean that is cooked. These calories also drop to 102 once the beans are consumed. They are also trendy and appreciated (also called eye beans), which have a beige skin with a black spot at the point where they join the pod, which makes them look like an eye, and cannellini beans, with an elongated shape and light skin, slightly tending towards rosé.
A little less common, at least in our country, are black beans, used mainly in the cuisine of South America, especially in the Mexican one, to prepare tasty soups and purees. Then there are the azuki beans, a variant of this legume typical of Japan, whose cuisine they are mainly exploited. A reddish color characterizes Azuki beans and is very rich in mineral salts and vitamins: they are also the minor caloric type of dry beans that exist and possess important purifying properties. The overwhelming majority of its varieties are called “water first beans,” as they do not require prior soaking.
Soaking The Dried Beans
A critical phase that must always be performed before cooking dry beans is soaking. This step is essential to be achieved mainly to eliminate dirt and any impurities that lurk in the skin of the beans and remove any antifungal residues, which companies generally use for their packaging. After examining all your dry beans, eliminating those withered and those that have a strange color, you will have to soak your legumes in cold water for many hours, even better if for a whole night, taking care to change the water at least twice during this period to prevent the beans from fermenting.
Unlike other dried legumes such as chickpeas, you will not have to add anything else to the soaking water, neither salt (which would make them too hard) nor bicarbonate (which would deprive them of their nutrients). Once the soaking time has elapsed, you will need to drain the beans and rinse them under cold running water.
Cooking Dried Beans
Once the soaking phase is complete, your dried beans will be ready to cook. Therefore, the dried beans must be placed in a thick-bottomed and rounded steel pot with handles or inside an earthenware pot, which can maintain a uniform temperature during cooking. Once you have put them inside the bank, you will have to completely cover your dried beans with at least two liters of cold water and, if you want to enhance their flavor, even more, add a few cloves of garlic and bay leaves.
Never add salt to the cooking water: the salt would make the skin of the beans too hard, and during cooking, it would cause them to break. To make sure you soften the skin of the dried beans without breaking them, you can add a spoonful of baking soda or a small piece of kombu seaweed to the pot. Once this is done, put the pot on the stove and let your beans boil. As for cooking times, dry beans must cook from a minimum of one hour to a maximum of two, depending on both their type and how long they have been soaked: the longer this phase, in fact, the less time it will be. Necessary to cook them.
Once your beans have come to a boil, reduce the temperature and let the legumes simmer, placing a lid on the pot without closing it completely to let the steam escape. If you notice the presence of many white bubbles on the surface of the water at the beginning of cooking, add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to froth it. Never mix the beans with a spoon, but gently swirl the pot while holding it by the handles.
Also, considering that the beans, thanks to the heat of the fire, tend to increase their size, now and then, you will have to add a few spoons of boiling water to the pot: this will allow the beans to cook evenly. When the beans are cooked and have used up all the water in the pot, please turn off the heat and leave them in the bank to cool for about twenty minutes. Then drain the beans and serve them hot by adding a handful of salt and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
How To Cook Beans Without Soaking Them
Putting the beans to soak is often a big hassle, considering the long times required to perform this phase: do you know that it is also possible to cook the beans without soaking them? When you do not have time (or desire) to carry out the soaking phase, it is possible to do a kind of “first cooking” of the dried beans in the oven. It would help if you took a pan to pour your dry beans to perform it. Once this is done, cover them with a liter of water and possibly add some aromas, such as bay leaves, but be careful to avoid salt, which should never be used at this stage.
Insert the pan in the oven and set the latter’s temperature to 160 ° C, letting them cook for at least an hour. Another simple technique to cook the beans skipping the initial soaking phase is to cook them with the pressure cooker: once you have washed the beans, just put them inside the pot and add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. I am leaving them to cook for at least half an hour. If, on the one hand, the advantage of these techniques is to speed up the preparation times of dry beans, on the other hand, when cooking them, always keep in mind that they could flake or break more easily.