Why A How To, “Cook Beans & Rice” Post?
Cooking a staple food like beans and rice may seem like a simple thing to do, and it is when you know how. But if you grew up after the invention of Fast-Food, or Pre-Made foods which most of us have, you may not have learned basic cooking skills that were at one time passed on from Mother to Daughter. So a basic how to cook beans & rice becomes a valuable resource, and that is what I hope this will be a useful resource for future cooks.
When preparing beans, it doesn’t matter what kind they are, you prepare them all, in the same way. Some you cook less and others you cook more depending on the size of the bean. For example, you can make a fast soup using Lentils in about 30 to 40 minutes. But you can expect a Chili or Stew with Pinto beans or some other large bean to take between 1 and 2 hours.
All beans, grains, seeds or any food that has been grown in dirt needs to be cleaned before use, and in the case of beans we need to sort them before we use them, to remove debris, rocks or bad beans (I am not sure is it necessary to remove broken beans but some do).
If you fail to sort them or do not do a thorough job, you could find rocks in your cooked beans. Have you ever bitten down on a rock that was in your food? It can be very painful, but even more important you could break a tooth and no one wants that.
I learned to sort beans while working at Taco Bell as a young person, I am not sure they even use uncooked beans anymore. The way they taught me was to use a table, and kind of toss the beans a handful at a time on the table so that they are moving a little or sliding before they come to a stop, you can see the debris and rocks easier if the beans kind of move before settling down, they separate out a little… I found a video that shows how to sort beans a little differently, but I think it gives a good idea of what needs to be done, I think that I would put the sorted beans in a pot or bowl as I sorted them.
We do not need to wash beans in the same way as we do produce, but we do need to rinse them in clean water to remove any dust and dirt that are on the surface. Not only does rinsing remove dust and dirt it improves the flavor of the beans. If you were to soak un-rinsed beans the dust and dirt on them would get in the soak water, then the beans would suck up the dirty water making your beans taste like dirt.
When rinsing beans, put your beans in the pot you are going to cook them in, add the beans and fill the pot with cold water, then with your hands rub and stir the beans till the water becomes cloudy, then rinse and repeat till the water remains clear.
Put your sorted & rinsed beans in the pot that they will be cooked in and cover the beans by about 3-4 inches of water, and let them soak 12 – 24 hours or until most of the water has been taken in by the beans and the bean has doubled in size. Drain & Rinse the beans one last time.
Soaking is a very important part of preparing beans & rice for cooking. Soaking activates the seed and brings it to life, deactivating phytates that prevent nutrients from being released from the seed, bean or grain. Soaking is responsible for making the nutrients in the bean or rice available to our bodies in a bioactive form that our bodies can use.
If you have a day or two to let the beans or rice sprout even more nutrients would be available, sprouting increases nutrients a couple of days after soaking, keep the beans rinsed and do not let them dry out, when they dry out they stop growing.
After the last rinse, add enough water to cover your beans by about 2 inches, the more water you use the more seasonings you will need to flavor them, but you will have more bean juice if you like to have beans with juice. Let the beans cook on low-medium heat, you just want them to simmer lightly, no heavy boiling till they are tender, possibly 1 – 1/2 to 2 hours.
If you like seasoned beans you can add herbs and other spices during cooking, the beans I learned to cook at Taco Bell only had salt and lard. I like the taste of beans with lard, but my heart says no, no, no, and I found that they are fine without it.
Adding Salt When Cooking Beans
When to add salt to beans is somewhat controversial, some say that adding salt to beans at the beginning of cooking prevents the beans from becoming tender. But others say that adding salt at the start gives the beans a better flavor. I have done it both ways, really it is a personal preference. Try it both ways if you are not sure, then you will know for yourself how you like them.
Preparing rice is like preparing beans, but I do not sort them the same way I think that they are too small, but you can give them a good look over for rocks or unwanted sticks or stems. When I am rinsing them I fill the container with so much water that any debris rises to the top then I pour off the debris with the water. Rinse them in the same was as you would for the beans, stirring and rubbing with your hands and rinsing till your water becomes clear.
Rinsing Rice One Exception
There is one exception when it comes to rinsing rice, and that is white rice. White rice has been milled, the hull and outer layers with the nutrients are removed making it necessary for manufacturers to add vitamins and nutrients back to the rice so that we don’t get sick from eating nutrient depleted rice, if you rinse white rice you will remove the added vitamins.
You should rinse all other kinds of rice; brown, wild, red, black etc.
Soaking rice is not as common as soaking beans, but it has been done for centuries in Asian countries. All that you need to know about soaking rice is to cover the rice with about 2-3 inches of water, then let it soak for 12 to 24 hours, I just make it easy on myself and soak everything overnight unless I am in a hurry, then I will soak for less time.
Soaking Tip: If the weather is extremely warm or you kitchen is very warm, you might soak in the refrigerator, to keep the beans or rice from fermenting.
How To Cook Rice
When cooking white rice, you can follow the directions on the package, but for whole grain rice that has not been milled, that has been soaked. After draining soak water and rinsing, I cover the rice with about 1/2 inch of water, add some salt cover with a lid and bring it to a boil, when it begins to boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer, let simmer for 15 minutes, then turn the heat off, and let set for 20 minutes, the rest of the water should be soaked up into the rice.
Perfectly Cooked Rice
This rice is perfectly cooked in my opinion, cooked through but not mushy, has a little chew, I think some call it al dente. If you like softer rice just add a little more water.
Quantities Used – 4 cups of black beans, and 2 cups of brown rice, I do not measure water.
Cooking Term – Simmer – To cook slowly in liquid over low heat, the surface of the liquid should be barely moving, with very slow rising bubbles.
There It is
My how to cook beans & rice, it is more of a how to cook post rather than a recipe post… When you know how to cook beans & rice you are ready for any bean and rice recipe that you would like to try.