The Cottage Smallholder

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Is it better to soak dried beans overnight or use the ‘quick soak’ method?

Bean face

Bean face

I found some half price braising steak and parsnips on offer at the weekend. Both were tossed into my trolley along with a chunky bag of carrots and a can of Guinness. It’s the perfect weather for a beef in Guinness stew.

As I was chopping the vegetables Danny piped up.
“Do you know what would be really great with this dish. Some butter beans and the flageolets that were in the Pheasant and Venison Casserole à La Beastley. They were so tasty and packed with flavour.”
A year ago Danny would never have dreamt that beans could be good in anything.

I was delighted. The beans would pad out the protein element and possibly add a great new twist to beef in beer. There was just one problem.

I hadn’t soaked any beans.

Then I remembered that Delia Online has a method for fast track soaking. You put the beans in a large saucepan of cold water, bring it to the boil and simmer rapidly for ten minutes. Then remove from the heat and soak for a few hours.

We did that for Butter Beans and flageolets. After two hours tossed them into the slow cooker with the meat and vegetables. A few hours later everything was cooked apart from the beans.

I separated the beans from the stew this evening and simmered them for another four hours. Eventually hunger forced us to eat the stew without the beans.  They have now simmered for eight hours in and out of the stew and are just beginning to lose their bite.

The beans are well within date, they are from the same pack as the ones that we used last week. No salt was added. Was it down to a combination of fast soaking and cooking them in the slow cooker? The ones in the Beastley casserole were soaked overnight, cooked in the slow cooker and were perfect. I’d love to find the answer as it would be great to be able to cook with beans almost off the cuff so to speak.

Somehow soaking overnight seems a much simpler, stress free option at the moment. Saves on fuel too.

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  1. David J Bethell

    Well, I’ve been cooking Butter Beans about 10 times now and each time no matter how long I soak and no matter how long I cook, they remain hard bullets that aren’t that great to eat. Every bloody time!!! I’ve had dishes made for me where the bean melts on the mouth but I just can’t ever produce that kind of bean.
    I give up!

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Steve

    The old fashioned method of drying beans used to be big before the invention of freezers but opinions seem to be divided on the best way to cook them!

    Hi Catt

    Yes. It’s confusing. I have discovered that it’s best to soak all beans before cooking (12 hours).

    The no soak method doesn’t work for me.

    Our slow cooker cooks beans perfectly but it does get up to quite a high heat, even on minimum and bubbles away fairly fast.

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