I know why my beans haven't softened - I was adapting a recipe (that calls for tinned beans) to use dried - and there's vinegar in the sauce. I soaked an assortment of beans from different packs overnight, and cooked in the slow cooker on high for 8 hours. That would normally be plenty even in chilli with a fair bit of tomato. As the beans came from different packs that were fine a week ago, and were uniformly too firm, I don't reckon it's that the beans are too old. They were just about edible last night. A further 12 hours on low overnight softened them a little more, but they're still firmer than I'd like. The recipe isn't online but it's beans, onion, garlic, spices, treacle and vinegar, similar to a vegetarian Boston Baked Beans.

The solution for next time is easy - add the vinegar when they're nearly cooked - but I made several portions and would like to make the best of what I've cooked.

Is there anything I can do at this stage to make them soften further? Would neutralising the acid and cooking some more help?

  • Been there. I have tried baking soda and further cooking without success.
    – Jolenealaska
    Jul 14, 2020 at 9:18
  • Wild, no evidence, out of left field idea - I wonder if something similar is happening like if you bring potatoes to almost a boil then switch off. They then retain their structure no matter how long you cook them a second time.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 14, 2020 at 9:21
  • @Tetsujin possibly, but I never let them cool - when I realised they were barely edible but I was hungry and the rest of my dinner was ready, I just left the slow cooker on, turning it down before bed (and beans normally cook OK on low for about 12 hours)
    – Chris H
    Jul 14, 2020 at 9:33
  • 1
    @ChrisH - sorry, I meant the end result being similar, rather than the actual cause. par-boil vs acid.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 14, 2020 at 9:42
  • 3
    @Jolenealaska don't you mean 'Bean there' ? Jul 14, 2020 at 9:50

1 Answer 1



That will get them soft. Then you can fry the bean paste, like refried beans.

  • I did indeed do something very similar, only I added a bit of gram flour and formed it into burgers before frying. Strangely a few beans that escaped being blended seemed softer - maybe the extra soak, maybe the extra cooking, or maybe the different context affected my perception of the texture
    – Chris H
    Jul 14, 2020 at 20:11
  • The psychology of bean eating... A new frontier!
    – Willk
    Jul 16, 2020 at 1:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.