Sunday, February 8, 2009
Cooking beans, again
If you've read through much of this blog, you know I have a fixation on cooking beans. I do use canned beans, but I prefer cooking them myself. However. Just when I think I've got it all figured out, I'll cook some up that refuse to cooperate.
I bought an 8-lb bag of chickpeas from one of the Indian groceries here in town, and I have had terrible luck with them. They were a lot cheaper than the ones I'd had previously from Whole Foods, but they are taking forever to cook. Like, 3 hours or more. The last batch that I'd bought from Whole Foods cooked like a dream -- after soaking, they took barely an hour. And they tasted wonderful: sweet and rich. The ones I'm using now? They don't even taste that good, and the texture is weird. It's really aggravating.
I've had similar things happen with kidney beans -- the Baer's Best ones (a Massachusetts grower) cook up beautifully, by and large, but a large bag of kidney beans I bought just won't soften properly without that salt-water soak thing.
What's the lesson here? I'm guessing that it's an age issue. The ones I've had better luck with are fresher? But how do you always know? I have been toying with the idea of trying to find a buyer's club/co-op thing to buy bulk foods, but what if I buy, say, 20 lbs of chickpeas and find that they're not good ones? But what I'm doing now doesn't seem surefire, either, by any means.
All that said, an old friend from college who found me on Facebook suggested that I try using whey in the soaking water, a la Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions. I tried that last night and I'll see how it goes. But I used it on a 1-lb. package of Baer's "money" beans, so I'm guessing that they'd have cooked up pretty well regardless of what I did.