Tips for Cooking Red Beans

Cooking red beans requires much more time than just opening a can, but the results are worth it. If you're cooking dried red beans, you should keep a few tips in mind to help things go as perfectly as possible.

Sorting
The first thing you should do with any dried bean is sort it. The easiest sorting method is to take the amount of beans you need, and pour them into a bowl. Use your fingers to search for any small rocks, dirt or discolored beans, and remove them from the bowl.

Soaking
You won't have to soak your beans if you don't want to, but it helps speed up cooking time considerably. The easiest method is to place the beans in the bowl, and cover them with water. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

Never soak dried beans for more than 24 hours unless specifically directed by a recipe. Soaking beans for too long can cause fermentation, which can influence the taste. Fermentation can also cause digestion issues that result in discomfort and gas.

General Cooking
Never cook your beans in the same water they soaked in. Discard the used water, rinse the beans and place them in a saucepan filled with fresh water. Make sure there are about three cups water to every one cup red beans.

Once you add the red beans to the water, you want to bring the water to a boil. As soon as the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan with a lid. Let the beans simmer for anywhere between one to three hours, depending on the amount and age of the red beans. Check occasionally to make sure the water is still covering the beans. If the water gets low, just add a small bit at a time until the beans are covered again.

Cooking Time
There is no exact time for cooking red beans. When your red beans are soft and easy to mash, they're ready to eat. Remove the saucepan from the stove, and drain any excess water from the beans. Serve beans alone, or mix with almost anything for a tasty dish.

However, always make sure red beans are fully cooked before consumption. Red beans contain a toxin that can cause mild illness if it's not broken down by thorough cooking. At the same time, if you overcook red beans dramatically, you'll end up with a flavorless mush sapped of nutrients. So, pay attention to your beans, and remove them from the stove as soon as they're done cooking.

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