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The way I currently cook kidney beans is to soak them overnight. But still they have to be cooked for a long time on gas before they get tender enough to be edible.

Anything that can be added or be done in a different way to reduce the time over heat?

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Do you have a pressure cooker? –  JasonTrue Jul 8 '11 at 5:03
    
@JasonTrue Yes, Without pressure cooker, it won't take hours, it'll take days :) –  TheIndependentAquarius Jul 8 '11 at 5:14
    
I don't usually need more than 15 minutes at boil in a pressure cooker for any soaked beans, including kidney beans; usually much less. Is it possible your beans are unusually old? –  JasonTrue Jul 8 '11 at 5:32
    
@JasonTrue I purchase them in packets. BTW, have you tried "red small" kidney beans? They take nearly an hour to get tender! Pinto beans take some less time. –  TheIndependentAquarius Jul 8 '11 at 5:53
    
6-8 hours of pre-soaking in water, Though I wouldn't compromise on the cooking time, as some red kidney beans contains toxins if under-cooked. –  Reno Jul 8 '11 at 9:45
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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Adding a little bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) to the beans when soaking overnight should help soften them.

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Is that good for health too? –  TheIndependentAquarius Jul 8 '11 at 14:43
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I understand that if there's too much it can break down nutrients. In all likelihood your beans take forever to cook because you have hard water, so you only need a little baking soda--just enough to neutralize it –  Ray Jul 8 '11 at 17:46
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@Ray Perhaps I should start another thread for "How to soften hard water?" :D –  TheIndependentAquarius Jul 9 '11 at 5:38
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This other [thread][1] answer suggests that acid water will harden beans. A little soda will shift the pH to the alkali end. [1]: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/15753/… –  Rincewind42 Jul 9 '11 at 14:29
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You can reduce the overnight holding time, but I'm afraid you're stuck with the cooking time. Start with good quality fresh dried beans - if they're old they'll take forever to soften. Cover them by at least 2ins of water (softened if your water is hard with a little bicarbonate of soda, or use bottled water) to allow for absorption. Soak them overnight in water, or if you're in a hurry bring to the boil for 10 mins, turn off heat, and leave for 2 hours. It is important that they stay covered with water. Change water and boil hard for 15 mins (to destroy toxins) and then simmer until tender, adding salt, garlic or onion or other flavours if desired (this might take 30 mins to 1 hour or so or even more, depending on the beans - I normally expect 45 mins).

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I find that soaked kidney beans will become tender after about fifteen minutes at pressure in a pressure cooker. I sometimes add Kombu to a pot of beans while they are cooking. It is generally thought to reduce the gassiness of the beans, reduce foaming while cooking, shorten cooking time and tenderize the beans. It also seems more nutritious than adding baking soda(?)

Finally, you didn't mention it but if you are adding any salt or acids to the beans (like tomatoes), it would take much longer for your beans to become tender. I'd cook the beans until they are tender before adding salt or anything acidic.

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