It is starting to get chilly outside as the leaves are starting to turn beautiful fall colors. With the cooler weather and beautiful foliage life just isn’t complete without a bowl of hot pinto beans and cornbread. Mmmmm mmmmmmmmm.
I like to cook our beans in a crock pot with a piece of smoked ham. I just cook it all day and it is a perfect cool weather dinner. It also smells divine in the house all day long. I know this because that is what we are having for dinner tonight and I’ve been enjoying the aroma (and the sound of my belly growling) all day.
We like to follow a traditional approach to preparing our food. This involves soaking nuts, grains, and legumes before cooking to reduce the phytic acid. What is phytic acid? If you want to get all technical you can read about it on Wikipedia.
For the sake of my brain and maybe yours as well I’ll break it down into simple terms. Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient. It is not digestible by humans or animals. It also blocks mineral absorption. This is why beans can cause an upset stomach and other related issues if you know what I mean. 😉 Not good, right? I’m not saying that these food items are unhealthy because of the phytic acid, I’m saying that the best way to prepare them is to soak them before cooking and eating them.
Soaking and Cooking Dry Pinto Beans
When you purchase canned beans from the store they have not been properly prepared to reduce the phytic acid so they are not the healthiest option for your diet. The best way to cook them is to start with fairly fresh dry beans (less than 13 months old).
Place them in a large bowl and cover with 2-3 inches of water. You need to soak them with 1 TB of acidic medium per cup of dry beans. You can use vinegar, whey, or lemon juice as your acid. I cook about 2 lbs of dry beans at a time so I used about 5 Tablespoons of lemon juice to soak them.
They need to soak for 12-24 hours, the longer they soak the more phytic acid is reduced. I like to soak mine for 24 hours. The beans do need to be drained and rinsed at 12 hours to keep them from spoiling. Just add fresh water and acidic medium for the following 12 hours.
After the soak is done I put the beans in my crock pot and cover with several inches of water. I like to add a piece of smoked ham to mine while it cooks. I cook the beans on high for at least 8 hours, this makes them nice and soft plus infuses them with the pork flavor.
You also want to wait to season the beans until they are ready to serve. Adding salt to them early on in the cooking process actually causes them to cook slower and stay tougher. When it gets close to supper time, I like to throw together a batch of corn bread to go with it. Such a yummy and satisfying meal!
This method of preparation can be used for all types of beans. From kidney beans for chili, navy beans, black beans, and any other dry beans you’d like to cook. Happy bean soaking to you!
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