Many people recognize that beans can give them digestive distress if not prepared properly. While I recommend a longer soak and then cooking low and slow, giving them time to properly break down as described in this post, I also realize that the ideal is not always possible. Sometimes we need beans for dinner and we haven't thought ahead to soak them. This is where quick soak beans come in. While they may not measure up to the bean preparation ideal, this method does provide beans that are more digestible, better for the environment and less expensive than their canned counterpart. My mom taught me this method years ago and it has come in handy; hope it will for you too.
Quick Soak for Beans
Placed desired amount of beans in a pot and cover with 3 times the amount of water.
Bring beans and water to a boil.
Boil for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and soak for 1 hour.
Drain and rinse beans well in a colander.
Cover beans with 4 times the amount of water.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 1-2 hours, or until tender.
Garlic, onions and herbs may be added to beans during cooking time, but salt and tomatoes can prevent them from becoming fully tender. Tough skins on cooked beans is never a good thing.
See this post, for information on how to add salt and flavor to beans.
When beans are cooked, tender and still warm, add salt and any other flavoring desired. I recommend adding salt and any other seasoning desired while beans are still in liquid; adding salt/seasoning to drained beans is tricky to do without mashing them.
Foam on the beans is an indication that the protein is being overcooked. To avoid this, bring the beans to a boil, then reduce heat right away to a simmer.
Simmering beans in a pot covered with a lid will result in softer, creamier beans. Beans simmered without a lid will be firmer. Go ahead and experiment to see which texture you prefer.
It may seem impossible to remember to soak beans with the long soak method, but give this a try: Start soaking 2-3 types of beans, on a set day each week, in separate containers. After 24 hours, place a lid on the soaking containers and store the beans, soaking liquid and all, in the fridge until you need them. Drain and rinse beans well before cooking. Place beans in a slow cooker in the morning and they'll be ready for dinner, or place beans in a slow cooker at night and they'll be ready to pack warm in a thermos for lunch.
1/2 cup of dried beans will make about 1 1/2 cups cooked beans. Substitute 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans for a 15 oz. can of beans.
The age, size and type of bean will affect cooking time. I prefer using a slow cooker as opposed to the stove top as it gives more consistent results with less babysitting, but time constraints do not always allow for all day or all night slow cooking.