Sunday, July 13, 2008

To soak or not to soak

Rather than rant to people who couldn't care less what I think. I'll rant to an electronic network of light and letters. This blog is basically an electronic recipe book for me... and if you come across one of my recipes, try it and like it... well yippee for the two of us!!!

So... to soak or not? Simple. The scientist and Aries in me has done the following experiment many times: cook beans without soaking. Eat beans. Verdict? No problems. What's the big deal about soaking? I've heard all manner or conspiracy theories:
1. It's just better.
2. Cooking time is shortened. (What? 20 minutes is too long?)
3. It causes less flatulence.
4. It reduces sugars that are bad for your digestion.

Most of the people who have lectured to me about the merits of soaking beans never do it themselves because it takes too much forward planning. Their solution? Canned beans. Canned beans!!!! Ugh. Yuk. Blechhh. Soggy and soft mushy yuckiness. Yes if I was desperate... on a deserted island and all I could eat was canned beans then YES I would eat them... but at NO other time. Canned beans are already cooked so they don't absorb the flavour of the juices, sauces, dressing you should be placing them in. Don't buy canned beans, it's like buying canned pasta.

And to respond to the above arguments for the soaking of beans:
1. It just isn't. Soaking the beans toughens the skins and makes them chewy.
2. It depends on the freshness of the beans. They are so easy to over cook - why bother making it more difficult to monitor their cookededness by reducing their already short cooking time.
3. Has anyone done a controlled experiment to prove this? My flatulence seems to be appropriate to the food I've eaten. It's a little reminder that you've been eating healthfully.
4. At least I'm eating beans and not chocolate. I can tolerate bean sugars.
5. And another thing... soaked beans often start to sprout or split. This looks bad and unappealing.

So how to cook beans? Boil them in plenty of water... and monitor them.


Mary Ellen said...

Do you really cook beans straight out of the packet for only 20 minutes? I soaked my lima beans over night and then cooked them for an hour! Do you like your beans crunchier than most people?

Tania Kyriakou said...

Some were already starting to get mushy. They had a soft potato like texture. I bought them from a bean specialist though, I suspect they might have been superfresh. They were slightly larger than your average supermarket lima bean. I'll experiment again with the supermarket variety and see how long it takes... but I definitely won't soak them first.