What is the most efficient way to cook beans?

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What is the most efficient way to cook beans, other than in a thermos? How much propane would it take for 1 lb of beans? How long to soak them?

-- a (a@a.a), January 16, 1999


a, these steps are the most energy efficient ways I know:

Pre-soak the beans overnight and discard the soaking water (this makes the beans less gas-forming as well as conserving on cooking time).* Then,

Cover beans with fresh water in a pressure cooker. Cook 10-30 minutes (or so) as opposed to an hour or two! The time varies according to your particular pressure cooker and the type of beans being cooked, and the recipe (if any).

As for the amount of propane I don't know. Because of saving time with the pressure cooker, you'll save fuel.

*The pre-soaking is especially important with soybeans, because they tend to become frothy, which could plug the pressure release valve. With soybeans, after soaking overnight I bring them to a simmer and let some of the froth come to the top and discard it, before putting them in the pressure cooker.

-- Debbie Spence (dbspence@usa.net), January 16, 1999.

Debbie, do you recommend any particular brand of pressure cooker? I'm a little scared of them ...


-- jhollander (hollander@ij.net), January 17, 1999.

jeannie, I am using the Aeternum 7 quart, stainless steel. It's design is really ingenious when it comes to safety. Unlike the old type, where the lid is the twist and lock type, this lid is secured in such a way that the cooker can't explode. How do I explain this without drawing a picture? The lid fits under instead of over the pot edges. So it cannot explode. That takes care of the big worry with a pressure cooker, I think. I suppose in the event of the pot being left on the heat for a very long time with the liquid having evaporated off, it would burn, like any pot would. As long as you watch it to be sure there is steam emitting from the valve, you are OK. With the relatively short cooking times, you're not likely to be walking off and forgetting about it.

The pot has two valves, one for high pressure and one for low pressure (two different size weighted valves). This is unlike the old type of gauge where you could set numeric poundages, but I haven't found I needed any more than these two.

The Aeternum is available through Gold Mine Foods Co. in San Diego (where they also have a large variety of organically grown bulk foods, most very expensive, but great variety).

I also saw some internet sites where you could get it - but forget where. I think it's well worth considering, I'm very happy with it.

-- D B Spence (dbspence@usa.net), January 17, 1999.

From Victor Bennett's The Complete Bean Cookbook:

Water: (short-cut method) for all dried beans, use 3 cups water to 1 cup beans for soaking and cooking, unless a cup or more of liquid is added as part of the ingredients. Beans should be soaked to take up part of the water lost in drying. Always use the soaking water for cooking the beans [to retain nutrients]. A quick and effective way to soak beans is to add them to the measured amount of water, bring water to boiling point, and boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Cover, Soak 1 hour and they are ready to cook. Even when soaking overnight, this "two-minute boil" softens the skins and prevents souring.

Salt: For average taste, 1 teaspoon of salt in the cooking water for each cup of beans is about right. Hold off if there is a salty meat addition. [Add salt hwne beans are almost tender to avoid prolonging cooking time.]

Hard water: slows down the cooking. It helps to add baking soda to the baking water. With most tap water add a scant 1/8 teaspoon soda to the water allowed for 1 cup dry beans. No more. Too much soda is harmful to flavor and nutritive value.

Foam: to keep down the foam when cooking beans, add 1 tablespoon of butter, drippings (consider flavor), or vegetable salad oil for each cup of beans.

Keep shape: cook beans gently. "Simmer" is the word. Stir seldom and easy!

Tomatoes: wait to add until beans are almost ender so softening won't be delayed.

Servings: one pound of beans will provide 8 to 9 servings of 3/4 cup each.


Don't forget to add a couple of epazote leaves (which you have been prudent enough to grow in your garden), so you don't have to blame the poor dog for any gassy problems you might have.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), January 17, 1999.

One small hint when soaking use boiling water- little extra fuel but sppeds process. Also consider using lentils- they cook much faster and sprouted have a very similar flavor to mung beans. Anasazi beans also require no pre-soaking.

-- Erica Calkins (JHnck1776@aol.com), January 17, 1999.

Has anyone here tried putting beans, once simmering, into a box stuffed with straw, newspaper or styrofoam for insulation and leaving it there for awhile? Or using a solar oven? This first was my mother's suggestion (from WWII experiences). We'll try this out this spring and let you guys know what happens.

-- Maria (encelia@mailexcite.com), January 17, 1999.

I agree with Old Git's method except cook the beans covered for 5 minutes, turn heat off, put lid ajar and leave set for several hours. This will degass the beans. Don't drain the water and don't add salt because this will add extra cooking time. Cooking time should only take anywhere from 30-45 minutes at a simmer. I wouldn't take a chance on Maria's method. No one can afford to get food poisoning and not be able to get medical care. Food poisoning in my opinion will be the number one cause of sickness during hard times. Always cook enough to eat in one meal and nothing left over.

-- bardou (bardou@baloney.com), January 17, 1999.

question for either OG or bardou:

what's the common name for Epazote?...that's a new one on me!


-- Arlin H. Adams (ahadams@ix.netcom.com), January 17, 1999.

Hi, Arlin - Epazote is also known as "wormseed" for its alleged efficacy in expelling intestinal parasites. Its posh name is (pretend this is in italics) chenopodium ambrosioides. It's very easy to grow, even for a slap-happy gardener like me. I grew it in pots last year and it made a fairly good-looking plant, with narrowish, serrated leaves. The flowers are nothing to write home about. I didn't notice any change in recipe taste, but the leaves themselves have a distinctly sharp taste. Whether the placebo effect kicked in or digestions are becoming inured to legumes, something worked. We don't have a dog any more but the cats haven't been blamed for anything lately. You can find this herb and many more (far beyond the wildest dreams of avarice) at:


The snail-mail catalogue is a keeper. Richter's also sells many "about herbs" books.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), January 18, 1999.

Cooking beans in a solar oven may not be the most efficient way timewise, but in most other respects a solar oven is very efficient. There is no fuel cost. The energy source is renewable. And you can make a soar oven for $5 - $10.

I don't have a link but if you do an internet search using the words solar oven you will find a mountain of good information.

Cooking solar can depend upon the time of the year (our oven reached only 150 degres on Sunday) and the weather. But it's worth looking at as a good alternative to other fuel sources.

-- Walt (longyear@shentel.net), January 18, 1999.

The Aeternum pressure cooker is listed for sale here. And in Albion's catalog.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), January 20, 1999.

A few ways to cook beans .....@flatulence.com), January 23, 1999.

A few ways to cook beans

-- poobear (
.....@testing.com), January 23, 1999.


-- x (xx@xx.com), January 23, 1999.

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