Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Hard to Cook Bean Mystery

I feel like I'm Nancy Drew trying to solve this mystery of the hard beans. When I got home at 10 pm Monday night and the lentils were still hard, I just transferred the whole thing to a pot and stuck in in the refrigerator to deal with later. On Tuesday, when I got home from work, I tried cooking the soup on the stovetop . . . after 2 hours, the lentils were a little softer but definitely not soft enough so I pureed the soup with my immersion blender and added some diced tomatoes and frozen corn. The soup tasted good enough . . . but still not the lentil soup I had been envisioning.

To try to narrow down the problem I wanted to see if the problem might be old beans . . . or maybe even our hard water. I
had some uncooked lentils left so I cooked them from scratch on the stove top. Within 30 minutes, they were soft and perfect.

So to recap, I proved that it's not the beans and not our water . . . it must be the crock pot. But what's really weirding me out is why the lentils didn't soften eventually--not even when I transferred them to the stovetop. It's like there was something that permanently hardened them. I know adding acidic foods can do that but I didn't. I didn't add salt either which some say can keep the beans hard. So, must be the crock pot right?

We'll see. I have borrowed a crock pot from a friend so I will try that next.


Buffy said...

You clearly have the plot for your next book. :)

Cathe Olson said...

ha, ha . . . you're right!

Sheela Chari said...

The tried and true method in my household is using a pressure-cooker. A lot of Indian households, like my own, rely on them. They're great for cooking lentils, beans, and even vegetables. You do have to get the hang of using them, but once you do, it will save you lots of time - I'm not sure what lentils you tried cooking, but for example, I can cook split peas in about 20-30 minutes. I will have to try your recipe and see how it comes out in my pressure cooker. :)

p.s. I came across your blog from the Mixed-Up Files.

Cathe Olson said...

Thanks for the advice, Sheela.