Have you wondered why a pot of dried beans just won't cook? Or cooked beans that turn out tough, especially the skins? Or experienced a favorite bean recipe that every once in awhile, just doesn't turn out right?
When beans don't cook, you probably wondered if you soaked the beans long enough or if you should just cook the beans longer. You maybe questioned the recipe or worried that your slow cooker was going bad.
The real cause? Old dried beans. That's right.
Old dried beans don't cook, they just won't cook.
The Great Fall Pantry Purge: Throw Away Those Beans!
Many of us experience beans that won't cook in late autumn. This is how it goes, right? The temperature drops, suddenly all we can think about is a big pot of hearty bean soup simmering on the stove. So we check our pantries and sure enough, lucky break, there's a bag or two of beans leftover from last winter!
Should you make soup with those beans? Nope. Throw those beans away!
Think about it. Beans are harvested and dried during late summer to early fall, then sent to grocery stores. So by this fall, beans you find in your pantry are at least a year old. For dried beans? That's old, really old.
So every fall, I go to the big glass jar where I keep beans and just throw them away. It's hard – I really hate throwing away food – but I've learned that unless I throw the beans away, all the other ingredients I'll put in the same pot with the old dried beans will get wasted too. Better to throw away a few cheap beans than a whole pot of soup!
FYI this applies to other dried legumes too, like dried peas (including split peas) and lentils. I learned this the hard way just last week after throwing some French lentils into the slow cooker for Lentil Sloppy Joes. The lentils were at least a year old but I decided to cook them anyway. Bad idea: they took twice as long to cook and even then, didn't really cook. We're eating them but it's a struggle.
In my experience, the "old beans won't cook" experience doesn't seem to apply to rice, wild rice, barley, buckwheat, farro or quinoa. These aren't legumes (aka beans), of course, but are other starchy whole-food pantry ingredients.
How to Avoid "Old" Dried Beans
Buy dried beans from a store with high turnover.
Even when beans go on sale, buy only enough to use within a few months.
Check the packaging for expiration dates.
Write the purchase date right on the package.
In the fall, throw away last year's dried beans.
THAT'S IT! Really! One Quick Tip!
This is the latest in an occasional series of posts I call "One Quick Tip" ... because, well, each one includes just a single quick tip that's quick to absorb, easy to adopt, memorable to use. Something that'll make a difference in your kitchen life!
Do you have One Quick Tip you'd like to share? Leave a comment or send me a quick e-mail via firstname.lastname@example.org. This time, I'd love to hear how you manage your pantry, perhaps spices, maybe different flours or nuts, maybe canned goods. Go ahead, share your good ideas!
Favorite Recipes for Dried Beans
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