Care and feeding of pinto beans
Beans are generally at constant oversupply in my region, and I have a stockpile.
Additionally, I live in close proximity to Mexico so I have near-at-hand access to
ingredients and recipes to many traditionally bean-based recipes. I also don't like
handling meat, and happen to enjoy the grainier texture of beans. However, I went a long
time with this stockpile untouched, because I was intimidated by the soaking process. It
didn't help that my entire life until then, I'd dealt with only canned beans, so I didn't
even know what the texture of a fresh bean was supposed to be like, much less a rehydrated
No more! There is a flowchart to this.
- Put 1 cup of beans in your pot (as long as the diameter is bigger than your hand; if
not, try 1/2 or 1/3 cup) and put in enough water to cover about an inch over. If you're
doing this the first time, you might want to halve this amount, to test and correct for
errors in the next batch.
- I like my beans creamy, so I add a couple of handfuls of lentils, which will
disintegrate quickly when cooked (and are very rich in protein to boot)
- Some people say that a pinch of baking soda may address bitterness at this stage.
- Some people say that smaller beans (like black beans) will benefit from a proportion of
- After 12 hours (or the next morning, or the evening, or ... somewhere around the
middle), drain the water, rinse, drain again, then re-fill. The water level will be much
higher. I use the lid to drain, since I'm unsure if my colander's holes are too small;
this takes some manual strength, but allowing the pot to tilt over a sink edge can help.
- If you want to taste-test a bean to see how they're coming along, be prepared for
- After another 12 hours, drain.
- Add to slow cooker. Add bouillon cube. Add enough water to cover. (Or just add enough
broth to cover and omit the bouillon, if broth is something you keep around.) Don't
add salt yet; it'll interfere with cooking.
- I added some leftover pork chop bones as well. Be mindful of the kind of bone you use
though as these heavily machined bones will fall apart into little sharp bits.
Traditionally a hog's jowl is used for this purpose.
- I also add a bit of butter.
- Cook on high until desired consistency reached; took 4 or 5 hours for me.
- Season and serve on almost any starch.
Enjoy your beans.
A warm day, or warm stovetop from an active oven will not harm the soaking process;
some people choose to simmer their beans for a couple of hours instead of the day-long
soaking process. I haven't tried this.