You can’t begin to imagine how sad I was when I discovered I accidentally bought a 10 pound bag of pinto beans that was about a year and a half old unless you’ve been there yourself. “Big deal,” you’re thinking. “It isn’t like they’ll go stale or something.” Well, they may not go stale, but they also refuse to rehydrate. That means hard beans, even if I soak them for two days and then cook them for 8 hours. Ugghh. Luckily, I’ve been here before, so I know what to do with all these old beans. It isn’t as good as having fresh beans, but at least they aren’t wasted. If you’re in the same boat, here are the three ways to cook beans that won’t get soft:
- Add a teaspoon of baking soda to a pound of beans when you put them in a bowl of water to soak. Weird, but it works most of the time. I definitely get softer beans than if I try soaking them without the soda and then rinsing them a few times to get the soda off before using them in the dish I am making. Oh, and avoid cooking the beans with tomatoes until they’re already soft. Tomatoes somehow inhibit their ability to suck up moisture and soften and just undo the work of the baking soda. Add them later on in the cooking process instead.
- Can your beans in a pressure cooker. This one I haven’t actually tried myself yet. I’m still canning acidic foods in a water bath canner and haven’t made the move to a pressure cooker. My mom and grandma never used one, so I guess that’s why I feel a bit nervous. Forging into unknown territory with stories of exploding jars of food tends to do that to me! I keep hearing from people that have used one that it isn’t that scary and I’m thinking about getting the Presto 1755 16-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker/Canner this year and starting to experiment with low acid canning. Hopefully, by this time next year, I’ll be telling you all about how easy pressure canning old beans is.
- Grind your beans into flour. Bean flour? I know. It sounds gross. And I wouldn’t recommend it in your famous airy cakes, but it does well in Artisan type breads. Exchange a 1/4 cup of bean flour for regular flour in your hearty bread recipes. We usually use it in Italian flat bread and it really is delicious. Honest.
So, how do you cook with old beans?