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I've recently started adding beans to my diet to get more fiber. I've never been a fan, but it's better than the alternative. I've also discovered refried variations, which helps a lot.

What I'm looking for is some kind of bean that isn't as "fibrous" or "dry" as the red kidney beans I've been trying. Are there different tastes? Different textures? Any beans considered "safe for beginners"?

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    Not directly an answer, but a suggestion: Lentils pack a similar (fiber-)punch as beans but are often easier to "sneak into" food. Plus, cooking time is usually shorter and soaking optional. Less "dry" as well. Welcome to the site! – Stephie Aug 24 '15 at 16:26
  • As both answers suggest badky cooked beans as culprit, could you plase clarify: Are we talking about dry beans cooked at home or the precooked canned variety? – Stephie Aug 24 '15 at 19:10
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    Try cooking in a pressure cooker - much quicker and more reliable. – NBenatar Aug 24 '15 at 19:33
  • Subjective, but my favorite beans are "small red beans". Firm enough to hold together but a delightful, creamy interior. I just eat them with pepper sauce and salt. – Sobachatina Aug 24 '15 at 19:53
  • They might be slightly undercooked, but I'm reheating them anyway which should take care of it. Right now I'm mashing them and mixing them with the sauce. I actually tried cooking them in the pressure cooker, but that took an hour so might as well do it on the stove top. Oh, and yeah - dry beans cooked at home. Been warned about gas from the premade ones. – Lars Aug 25 '15 at 17:32
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"Fibrous" and "dry" are good descriptions for bean which haven't been prepared properly. Mostly, they have either not been soaked long enough, or haven't been cooked for long enough.

Normal times for beans are about 12 hours soaking in water and another 1-3 hours cooking, depending on the desired texture. Also, sometimes beans can be cooked with about quarter/half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, which softens them nicely.

That should be a start towards solving your problem. To answer your question, I think that white beans and pinto beans are a good start (you can make a chili, for instance), and that chickpeas are also a very good starting point. Cooked chickpeas are great as-is, and can be seasoned with cumin, salt and lemon juice for a nice snack.

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  • I'll try white beans and pinto beans. And, like someone else suggested, lentils. <br/> I'm not in a position to say if my beans were done or not, but after an hour in pressure cooker they'd peel themselves if I'd blow on them. <br/> Thanks for your input :) – Lars Aug 25 '15 at 17:35
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It sounds like your beans were undercooked. You should try this recipe. You do not have to pre-soak dried beans or spend hours cooking them to have soft creamy beans. Put your beans in an oven safe pot with a tight fitting lid. Dutch oven and caldero would both work.

Pre-heat the oven to 250F. Boil the dry beans in water (3:1 ratio water to beans) for 15 minutes. You can use soup stock instead of water, or add spices and garlic/onion to the water. After boiling put the lid over the pot and put the pot in the oven for an hour and 15-25 minutes. Afterwards your beans should be perfectly cooked.

For a first timer I think pinto beans or black beans are the easiest to cook. Larger beans like chick peas and kidney beans may require a little more boiling before baking them in the oven. Beans like lentils or split peas do not even need to be baked, they cook through in 15-20 minutes of boiling on the stove.

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When you use canned beans, you pretty much have to make do with what's sold.

Cooking from dry beans gives you greater control over the end texture. Most recipes that start with dry beans involve pre-soaking the beans before simmering. If you add 1 T salt / Gal to the pre-soaking water (this is called, 'brining') you can get really creamy beans after simmering.

This is because sodium ions disrupt the pectin gel that binds the bean cells together, which loosens them to the point that water can better penetrate and hydrate the core of the bean during the pre-soaking period. This means they cook more evenly, giving a creamy texture. The folks at Cook's Illustrated did a great write-up on this technique in a recent issue - I'll try to track down the reference. Making the cooking water more basic in pH (rather than acidic) can also help. Baking soda both supplies sodium ions and makes the pH more basic. This makes for even creamier beans, but in my hands it can also be overkill (i.e. the beans fall apart into mush).

Don't forget to switch out the brine before you simmer, or you'll have a super-salty dish!

Source: A nice Cook's Illustrated instructional video

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  • I'll definitely try the brining! :D – Lars Aug 25 '15 at 17:40
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Different beans do have different flavors. I find that kidney beans and black beans have a fairly strong and distinctive flavor compared to most beans. Black-eyed peas and most lentils have a milder flavor, but still, if you were to cook them separately and taste test you would find they do taste different from each other.

I don't think there is any particular bean that is harder or easier to cook if you are open to experimenting (which it seems that you are). They can mostly be interchanged in recipes (with the knowledge that there will be a slight difference in the resulting color, texture and flavor) and they are generally quite forgiving as long as you err on the side of over-cooking. ;-)

If you're having trouble with getting them cooked well enough, you might try either a slow-cooker or a pressure-cooker. Either one is a good way to make sure beans get thoroughly cooked without having to watch them on the stove for a long time.

For the slow-cooker, soak the beans overnight then add the beans and other ingredients to the cooker in the morning and let it go. In general, for beans in a slow cooker, you will probably need double the time they would have taken boiling on the stove, but you don't need to watch them.

For the pressure cooker, start soaking the beans in the morning to cook them in the evening. You need about 1/4 the "boiling in a pot on the stove" time (or less) in the pressure cooker. There are some good references for cooking times around online, or converting a recipe from "regular" to slow-cooker or pressure cooker. Note that the pressure cooker time starts from when it gets up to pressure, which will vary based on the volume of the cooker and the volume of the ingredients being cooked.

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/10-top-tips-using-slow-cooker http://www.fagoramerica.com/my_fagor/common_cooking_times

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try lima beans, they are soft and creamy when fully cooked, yet I suggest brining overnight to boil it faster then, I usually stop to boil when shells start to come off and float on top

If cooked with kidney beans they look more like a sauce when kidney are just getting soft.

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