old, difficult to cook beans & Chinese breakfast beans

ClareBroommaker's picture

Recently we tried to cook pinto beans in our solar oven. After most of the day, they were not done. We figured we just needed to soak them for two days before cooking because they have been stored a long time.

So we soaked them for two full days, started the beans around 7:30 a.m. and cooked them until about 6:00 p.m., tracking the sun regularly. They still were not well done, so we cooked them another, um, I think it was 20 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure on the gas stove! Still not entirely done!

Maybe I should break up the beans either when dry, or, preferably, after soaking. It would be okay if we end up cooking a bean paste rather than discrete, intact beans.

I think I could put soaked beans through a hand cranked grinder. Would that make them cook better?

Any ideas how to handle these old pinto beans to get them to cook to creaminess? I know some beans contain a toxin until they are well cooked, pintos are probably not one of them.

A related question: Years ago I ate beans for part of a breakfast at Chinese acquaintance's house. I'm no longer in touch with that person. They were only very lightly cooked anyway and seemed like eating lightly boiled peanuts. Does anyone know what kind of beans they likely were? Being able to spare energy and cooking time could be advantageous, but I don't know which dry beans are safe to eat that

I have some beans that are probably five years old. I have a few types, including garbanzos, kidney beans, and black beans. Normally, I can cook them in 35 minutes under 10 pounds of pressure in the pressure cooker, but when they're that old, I cook them an hour. Creamy beany goodness results.

I found out the hard way that you can't cook old beans - they never get soft... they're "stale"... I forget where I read it now, but I looked it up after several frustrations with 2-yr-old beans... they're only good for beanbags.

Could the breakfast beans have been lightly boiled soybeans?

ClareBroommaker's picture

Maybe so. They must have been boiled from fresh, whatever they were. They were served cold and plain-- if that is a clue to anyone.

Forgive me if this is a silly question, but do you have a lot of experience cooking dry beans on a regular stovetop?

ClareBroommaker's picture

Not a silly question. ;) I do have lots of experience cooking dry beans of all sorts on a regualr stove. These beans are just old. My mate thinks 8 years old.

Magpie's picture

We have this problem here in NZ. There are almost no locally grown dry beans, and most of what is available in stores is imported from South America. These imported beans are usually heat treated and/or irradiated to kill pests as part of biosecurity. Beans treated in this way are harder and take longer to cook. Perhaps this is the case with your beans?

In my case, I found that soaking for 24-48 hours rather than 8 made a big difference in the ease of cooking. The old age may also be a problem, but I have cooked 5-year old pinto beans without issue, so I'm hesitant to say age is the culprit.

Ah, good. I just had to ask because I've had a couple conversations with people about how they couldn't get beans to cook in their wonderbag only to find out that they had never attempted to cook dry beans before and didn't know what to expect.

That's crazy it took so long! I've never tried to cook beans that were more than a couple years old though.

As far as the breakfast beans, I've heard that kidney beans are the most toxic, but that all of the species we traditionally use as dry beans (so all the usual beans, chickpeas, and lentils) are toxic enough that they shouldn't be eaten raw. I've also been told that ten minutes at boiling is enough to denature the toxin. If that's true, you could get beans that were a little harder but much faster and safe to eat that way, but you should research that before you try it out and I'm not responsible for any poisonings.

Have you considered that the breakfast beans could have actually bean boiled peanuts? I've seen peanuts used in ways in Chinese food that were very much unlike how we eat them here.

When a friend lost her husband a while back, she cleaned out his pantry--he cooked once a week for a homeless shelter--and gave me a big jar of "instant black beans, ready in five minutes." Basically they were ground, flaked black beans, and they were wonderful! Just add them to whatever. I imagine this is a vegan, meatless thing. I've been wondering if I could duplicate them in an old coffee grinder, but I'm chicken (lazy) to try.

Blueberry's picture

Sounds almost like refried beans. The fact they are flat makes me think precooked with a little fat added to hold them together. If you grind them up in a grinder it will shorten the cooking time. If cooking beans that have been stored for more than a year soak in baking soda an water for about a hour before cooking. Growing up my mom would grind beans up soak in water and add to a meat loaf or about 1/2 cup to 6 cups of flour when making bread.

Did you cook them with salt? Cooking beans with salt will toughen the skins. Add salt after they are cooked.

mountainmoma's picture

Yes, bean flakes store well, are lightweight and rehydrate easily. Around here, you can buy the black bean flakes in bulk bins at the store. Other areas would need to order them.

The Home Storage centers sell pinto bean flakes, so instant refried beans, packed in a #10 can with a 5 year shelf life for $6/can. It is ALOT of refried bean ! This is a product that I bought and opened and used. It easily rehydrates and is easily used in burritos or tacos or as a side dish. You could use it as a soup base or add to soup for protein. https://providentliving.lds.org/bc/providentliving/content/english/self-...

You could make these, no doubt. I just find it easier at that price, to buy the dehydrated bean flakes

Other preparedness companies might sell black bean flakes in #10 cans.

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

I have family in Maine, and whenever I've had the chance to visit, love going to the diners there and having beans and toast for breakfast. I guess it's an import from England -being New England. But those are like Boston Baked Beans. Still good with your eggs though, and hearty for those cold mornings.

@Mountainmoma -Thanks for the providentliving link. I'm going to keep it bookmarked. Those are some decent prices for the amount of food. And you can't go wrong with pinto beans.

mountainmoma's picture

One way recommended is to pressure can the old beans to make them edible, the person reports doing this and good testing with 7 year old beans, not airtight -- instructions : Remember this needs a PRESSURE CANNER
Re: Beans 6 years later
« Reply #47 on: October 23, 2017, 03:34:01 PM »


"....Sorry I didn't see that question sooner about how to can without the pre-soak...

Here is what I have from an article I read by Jackie Clay (I penciled it into my canning book in the bean section):

Dry beans canning:

1/2 to 3/4 c. dry beans in a pint jar
Add 1/2 tsp salt (without iodine -- either pickling or kosher), optional.
Fill with boiling water, leaving 1" headspace. Process 75 min. at proper pressure for your altitude.

I've done this for quart jars also... just double the beans and salt and process for 90 minutes..."

Another thing is to grind into bean flour and make a paste with water for part of chicken food rations, or for people doing this :
"...Grandma showed me to grind the beans in a mortar and pestle,but a fine to medium pass through a grinder or food processor will do,
and soak in 3 times (as the dry bean quantity) of water and a paste will form. Add an egg or two for binding ,corn meal for 'filler' as she never measured anything and spice (salt and pepper were her choice) then form patties or if too fluid...spoon on to hot greased pan to cook. Grandma did the same with dry corn,She was from from a tough generation and tough times . I still make foods as she taught me when I was a teen and spent summer school vacations with her so many years ago.I never claimed to be a cook,but I eat what I heat...."