Cooking Dry Beans While Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Cooking Dry Beans While Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: What I Learned from America’s Test Kitchen about Brining Beans

Dry Kidney Beans

A few benefits of cooking dried beans at home

  • Dried organic beans usually cost less than canned organic beans.
  • They don’t have any added salt or preservatives unless you add them.
  • When cooked correctly they have a much nicer taste and texture.

We eat lots of beans so of course I want the best value. Best value doesn’t just have to do with cost, taste and textures are also very important. My first few attempts at cooking dry beans were so inauspicious I just gave up. Bridget Lancaster form America’s Test Kitchen saved the day with this video.

brine tub with lid brightBrining beans is the way to go. I have cooked several batched of different kinds of brined beans and there is nothing like the taste and texture of these beans. Every time I test for doneness I am always shocked by the quality. The beans taste so good it’s hard to stop myself from going back for another spoonful.  I really want to share this information with you because I never thought I could get away from buying canned beans and be delighted with the results. This does take a little planning with the whole soaking overnight thing, but it is well worth it. To always have cooked beans on hand I cook about one-two pounds of dry beans (according to package instructions) and freeze them. 

Freeze cooked beans in a single layer to minimize clumping. Store beans in a bag or container in the freezer.
Freeze cooked beans in a single layer to minimize clumping. Store beans in a bag or container in the freezer.

Freezing cooked beans:

  1. Brine beans overnight.
  2. Rinse beans well.
  3. Cook beans following package instructions to desired tenderness.
  4. Drain and rinse beans with cold water.
  5. Spread beans onto baking sheet in single layer so that beans freeze individually.
  6. Place baking sheet in freezer until beans have started to freeze.
  7. Transfer beans to a bag or container and return to freezer.

To use frozen beans simply add directly to soup, chili, stew, or sauce near the end of cooking so that they defrost and heat through without cooking much longer. When I add frozen beans to a salad I let them either defrost in the refrigerator (if I have enough time) or I put them in a strainer and run them under cold water until defrosted.

America’s Test Kitchen

“America’s Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe.”

Whether you are new to cooking, or you just can’t figure out why your ciabatta loaf could actually be used as a slipper, America’s Test Kitchen is of great value. I have figured out how to incorporate what I learn from watching the show into my own vegan cooking. I even joined their cooking school for a while and found it to be quite helpful. I especially enjoyed the bread lessons and vegetarian section. The videos and written instructions were easy to follow. I had instructor access receiving quick responses and suggestions to my inquiries.

Thank you America’s Test Kitchen!

There are differing opinions out there about brining beans and salting the cooking water. Please comment below and let us know what you think.

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