*&^%# Pinto Beans

I debated putting this in the pit but flaming legumes has to be worse than that the thread bashing that 11 year old kid who got lost.

I got the brilliant idea to make a crock pot full of beans. Not quite chili but not plain beand and ham hocks either. I put a little of everything in and it smells nice but the damn beans aren’t cooked yet.

I admit that I did not soak the beans overnight. The package said the alternative was to bring them to temp and boil them for two minutes then soak for 1-4 hours. I called my mom and asked her advice about doing that then going all day in a crock pot and she thought it would work. I actually boiled the beans for more than five minutes then threw them in the crock pot and set it to high about ten AM yesterday and added my other ingredients througout the day. TheLadyLion got home later than usual so I checked the beans at 9:00 and they were still hard. Not so hard you couldn’t eat them but not right for eating. I turned the pot to low but when I got up this morning they beans are still too hard. WTF? I turned them to high and I hope they will get soft by the end of today. What am I doing wrong?

Did you put salt in with them? I believe that will harden the skins. One shouldn’t put salt on beans until they’re cooked.

No salt.

It also depends on how fresh the beans were. I’ve never been able to get the quick soak method to work for me. My beans always get soaked overnight before getting dumped into the crock. There is some dissention as to whether salt toughens beans, but I was always taught to salt at the end, not the beginning.

Cooking beans that haven’t gotten soaked to the core is futile. You have to let them rest and absorb, or you get what you have…beans that stay tough.

You’re overthinking it.

If I remember my food science correctly, it’s the acidity of the water that contributes to beans potentially being hard to cook (and thus the old belief that they must be soaked before cooking.) In most places nowadays, the water is of a quality that it’s no longer an issue with cooking beans. Still, because people are used to soaking, they insist it’s needed. In fact, all that’s typically required in most areas of the country is for the beans to be boiled until they’re done.

I suspect the problem you’re having is due more to the slow cooker not actually boiling the water than any soaking or salt issues. If the water isn’t boiling, take the whole mess, pour it into a big pot, and boil it on top of your stove for an hour or so. I bet they’ll cook up just fine.

For what it’s worth, the way I cook pintos is as follows:

  • wash & pick through a 1 pound (2 cup) package of pintos
  • put 'em in a pot. Add 14 cups of water. Or substitute some of the water for beer, stock, whatever you want.
  • add about a tablespoon of salt, and about 5 crushed cloves of garlic.
  • bring to a boil, turn down heat, cover and cook at a simmer/low boil for between 1 and 2 hours.
  • Add whatever other seasonings/meats/etc you want. Drain if you don’t like the liquor.

They’re always nice & soft & tasty.

Ah-ha! Found a couple quotes to back me up.

From Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking” (a very good book on food science, if you’re not familiar with it):

Also, the amount of water seems to be an issue. Another quote from McGee:

Age of the beans, too. If you’re using old beans, they might not ever get soft. I believe some beans are coming with expiration dates on their package; you might want to check it.

For those outside North America, a Crock-Pot® is a brand of slow cooker.

For future reference, a pressure cooker works well when your in a hurry for your beans.

From DeVena’s Mom (cause I ain’t cooking no beans)…

She also said your beans could have been old or you didn’t use enough water.

If you put tomatoes in there, the beans will not fully cook. Probably because the tomatoes lower the pH of the liquid, as others have pointed out. :slight_smile:

I love this place. I’m hoping the beans will be edible tonight or I’m throwing the whole batch out and following all the helpful advice I’ve gotten here next time.

Do post the results. Inquiring minds want to know.

My further research says that the type of bean matters when it comes to cooking; old world beans (fava, kidney, et al) tend to be larger and require soaking. I never cook those, so I have no clue. New world beans are smaller (pinto, anasazi, black) don’t require soaking. However, if you get a particularly old batch, they’ll never get soft. Also, the acidity matters.

Salt, on the other hand, doesn’t make a difference. In fact - and I can back this up with my own experience - the beans tend to stay really bland unless the salt is added at the beginning. Add it at the end, and it goes into the liquid, not the bean, resulting in tasty liquid and bland icky beans.

Yes, I spent way, way too much time reading up on dried beans and not working today.

Athena, thanks for all the research. I have a pot of beans cooking your way right now. After they cook, they’ll go into the crockpot with peppers, ground beef, onions, etc. to cook all night. In the morning, I’ll add tomatoes. Basic bachelor kibble, because the wife is away, it’s hot outside, and i just can’t be arsed to cook! :smiley:

I just took a taste test. The beans are nice and soft and the flavor is infused in everything. It was a day late but well worth it.