Pressure Cooker Beans.... and beans soaked in a brine solution. Ah, right when you think you've mastered cooking beans... you encounter yet another method to cook them. Could there possibly be a better way to cook beans? I mean really... beans? All you have to do is cook the beans in water until done. Right?
Well, there's actually a different technique that's applied to the beans... unexpected... but the result yields beans that are creamy, and oh-so tasty. So... the trick is to soak the beans in a brine. That's right... soaking the dried beans in salted water.
For the longest time, I thought you weren't supposed to add salt to beans when cooking them. Reason being is that the salted water may toughen the outer skin of the beans and make them hard. But that's debatable...as some actually say the salt aids in cooking the beans faster. But for me, the idea of never cooking beans in salted water has sort of gone out the window recently. Well, sort of...
Some time ago, I was reading an article on how to cook beans...soaking them or not. The article was favoring the soaking method...and I agree. Not that you can't cook them unsoaked... it's just that I prefer them soaked, as your body can digest them better. So I just plan accordingly. In any case, I happened to read the comments to the article, and one particular comment stood out. The person had recently come across America's Test Kitchen's method of brining beans before cooking....which helps the beans retain most of their skins while cooking and making the inside creamy and more flavorful. No skins floating around. Well, my ears perked up (or my eyes widened) when I read that...What, brining beans?! No, no,no... you aren't supposed to add salt to beans! But then I thought about it...maybe, just maybe I could try it and see for myself. And so I did...
I didn't exactly know the amount of salt to water as it wasn't stated in the article... so I just made my own ratio. Tasted the water and salt...adjusted it until I felt it was sort of like sea water... more or less:). Made my own brine and applied the method to 3 different beans. The beans were incredibly tasty, kept most of their skins on, and most of all they didn't taste bland. I loved how flavorful they were... the salt from the brine penetrates the whole bean. So yes, I didn't actually cook the beans in salted water... rather, I soaked the beans in salted water. A different technique.... that works! There were a few stray skins floating around, but most beans actually had the skins intact.
I'm now a firm believer in brining my beans before cooking them. And since I always use my pressure cooker when cooking the beans, I chose to use the same method. But you can still brine your beans and cook them in a traditional pot... obviously they will take longer to cook.
I haven't bought canned beans in years, and now I have found a way to get those creamy and flavorful beans...without them tasting bland. I'll freeze the beans... for those days when I need some for a dip, salad, or main dish. Very happy with the result... I'm sharing my find, and passing it along for those of you who wish to try it. Hope you enjoy...
Note: Overcooking the beans will make the beans burst, regardless of the brine solution...but they will still taste delicious:).
All beans are different...older ones always tend to need a bit more cooking....and really old beans are more likely to split their skins and remain tough.
After making my batches...I did a bit more research and found ATK's brine solution, which I'm posting below, along with the one I made.
The brining method is supposed to work for all beans...except lentils.
Tip: You will notice there is a bit of oil added to the pot when cooking the beans... this helps with having less "foaming" which can occur while cooking the beans in a pressure cooker.
You will need: inspired and adapted from America's Test Kitchen
My Version: before I found ATK'S version, but worked really well....
Overnight Soak Method
12 oz bag of dried beans
2 TBS kosher salt
5 cups water
America's Test Kitchen's Version: haven't yet tried this version
Quick Soak Method
3 TBS kosher salt
2 quarts of water
2 cups dried beans
~Bring 2 quarts of water and 3 tablespoons of salt to a boil. Pour the hot water over the beans and let them sit for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans well before proceeding with recipe.
2 cups soaked dried beans
6 cups water
2 TBS oil
flavorings( carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaf, etc...)
1. In a large bowl add beans, water and salt. Mix thoroughly.
2. Soak beans overnight(8-12 hours). With my brine, I left mine about 8 hours or so. Drain and rinse well....or do ATK'S quick soak method above.
3. Add beans to pressure cooker, then add water and oil ... the oil keeps the foam from bubbling up.
- for 1 cup of soaked dried beans I use 4 cups of water...if using more than 1 cup beans, I use 3 cups of water for each cup of soaked beans....
- add 1 TBS oil for every cup of soaked dried beans to the water... so 2 cups beans will have 6 cups of water and 2 TBS oil.
- add any flavorings of choice, bay leaf, carrots, onion, celery, garlic. Do not use acidic products when cooking... such as tomatoes....add them at the end.
4. Close lid, heat on high until pressure is reached. Lower heat to low and cook for 10-15 minutes...depending on beans.
If you want to use the beans in a salad, cook the beans using the minimum time... if using the beans for a dip, cook the beans a bit longer.
Time is approximate...for my electric stovetop, at my altitude. You may need to adjust...but start with the less time, as you can always cook further, if need be.
- Northern/Navy takes about 10-12 minutes
- Pinto takes about 11-13 minutes
- Garbanzo takes about 12-15 minutes
- Black beans takes about 10-12