Beans are a valuable food for their fiber, protein and vitamins but very inexpensive for the money spent. Hopefully the following information will aid in getting the desired results. Beans are worth the wait and effort!
An experiment with variables of time and pre-soak and without pre-soak and was done. The results show the differences between level of doneness versus time and soaking method. The temperature of the beans is shown versus time. Due to the need to open the pot to check the temperature, the temperatures recorded are actually lower than if the cooking had not been disturbed. The time to cook is similar to an electric slow cooker.
Three batches of pinto beans were compared:
- Batch A – Pre-soaked for 8 hours in 3 TBSP table salt dissolved in 4 Quarts of water, rinsed well; After 8 hour pre-soak, they were boiled for 15 minutes and put in the thermal cooker (Cooks Illustrated Brining Method reference below shown in table)
- Batch B – Quick pre-soaked by boiling 1 pound of beans in 4 quarts of plain water for 5 minutes and letting stand for an hour before finishing cooking (bean package); After 1 hour pre-soak, they were boiled for 15 minutes and put in the thermal cooker
- Batch C – Not pre-soaked and boiled for 15 minutes and put in the thermal cooker
The full details of soaking, cooking and time are below.
Pre-soaking helps to tenderize the beans and minimize effects when using hard water for cooking and are less flatulent.
When dried beans first begin their rehydration, the little spot that connects to the green bean as it grows is the main source of water entering the bean. As the bean begins to hydrate, the skin starts to soften and continues to do so when in water.
Data showing Cooking Time vs. Doneness for each batch type is graphed below.
Temperature vs. Time was recorded. *Please note that the times are actually higher if cooking without opening the cooker for measurements. Each time the cooker is opened, heat is lost due to experiment data collection.
Equipment used for measurements: Scale, Instant Thermometer, Infrared Thermometer
The 4.5Liter Thermos Cook and Carry
After the Beans finished cooking, they were put into Canning Jars leaving 1.5 inches head space from the top of the rim to the beans. These jars fit upright in most camper refrigerators or can be put in the freezer (head space as described necessary to prevent jar breakage). When standing upright, they more efficiently fill the refrigerator space. The rubber bands help reduce the bumps and rattles. Labels are made from colored electrical tape using a Sharpie. The labels are dishwasher safe and can be reused by simply peeling off and putting on the inside of a cabinet until needed again! The plastic lid is made by Ball and available at good hardware stores or online, but are not for canning but great for freezing and pantry storage of (you guessed it) dried beans!
- 1 Pound Dried Beans is $1.69 and makes 8 cups of cooked beans = 21 cents /cup
- 1 can cooked beans is $0.99 and contains 1.75 cups cooked beans = 56 cents /cup
- * Costs are only for the beans not the costs of cooking fuel, time, etc.
Good References on the science of cooking beans are:
- Cook’s Illustrated – The Science of Good Cooking America’s Test Kitchen, 2012
- On Food and Cooking – The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee 2004
Thanks for visiting! Enjoy!!!