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The Best Way: Perfect Beans, Every Time

I have a feeling that after the last couple weeks of inactivity around here, this post will not be much of an olive branch. I can almost hear your indignation: You don’t post for ages and now you’re telling me how to cook chickpeas!? I know, its a sad state of affairs, isn’t it? Despite me being legitimately busy over the past couple weeks (two terms of school down, one to go!), you’d think I could come up with a recipe that’s more interesting that boil water; wait.

Well, think again. As a vegetarian, beans and legumes make up a large part of my diet; I love them in curries and salads, and even with pasta. They’re cheap and nutritious and oh so tasty.

Since the dried type is so much more affordable than canned, I try to buy them when I can. But like many, I’ve struggled with obtaining that perfect texture- my home-cooked beans often end up mushy and skinless, or else still chalky in the center after what seems like years of simmering.

But no more, for I’ve hit on the perfect way to cook any type of dried bean to perfection. My trusted method is actually a mash-up of two, the Baking Soda Soak and the Oven Method. Both have their proponents and their skeptics, but I think together they make the perfect bean; the baking soda scrapes time off the simmering process, and the oven mimics the slow, pressure-cooked texture of canned beans.

I’ve used chickpeas here (psst- I’ll be using these in some upcoming recipes, so I suggest a batch if you want to cook along), but this works with pretty much any kind of bean or legume.


Perfect Beans, Every Time

  • dried beans (however much you want to make, as long as you have a pot big enough to cook them)
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • flavourings (optional; consider whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, a halved onion, dried chilies, dried herbs)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt

  1. Place the beans in a large pot and cover with lots of cold water. In a small mug or bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and table salt with a splash of water until there are no lumps left. Stir this paste into the beans. Cover and let soak for 8 hours, or overnight.
  2. When the beans have soaked, preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F. Pour the beans into a colander and rinse well. Return to the pot and add your flavourings (if using) and the salt. Cover again with cold water and place over high heat on the stove. Bring to a boil and let cook for 10 minutes. Then remove from heat, cover, and place in the preheated oven.
  3. Depending on the type of bean you’re cooking, begin to check for doneness after 45 minutes or so. I find that chickpeas take about an hour using this method. When your beans are done, rinse well and either use in a recipe or store in the fridge or freezer.
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