Before dried shell beans of any variety are cooked, look them over very carefully, reject any that are unfit for use, and wash the rest in cold water. They may then be cooked without further preparation, but in order to hasten their cooking and save fuel in their preparation, it is a good plan to moisten them by soaking them in water before cooking.
If they are to be soaked, place them in cold water and allow them to remain there for 8 to 12 hours. Then put them on to cook in water to which has been added a small pinch of soda. Parboil the beans in this water until the outside skin begins to crack and then pour off the water.
While it is true that a certain amount of mineral salts and perhaps a small percentage of food value are lost in this procedure, because the water that is poured off is too strong to be used for any other purpose, the improvement in the flavor warrants any loss that might occur.
After pouring off the water, wash the beans in cold water, add fresh water to continue the cooking, and allow the beans to simmer slowly until they are cooked soft enough to crush between the fingers, but still retain their original shape. Nothing is gained by cooking them rapidly on a hot fire, and considerable fuel is wasted by this practice.
The fireless cooker and the double boiler are excellent utensils for the cooking of dried beans, because they cook the beans at a temperature below boiling point. They therefore cook the beans soft with little difficulty and prevent the protein from becoming hard.
The theory of the cooking of protein–that is, the higher the temperature, the harder the coagulation–applies in the cooking of dried beans, just as it does in the cooking of eggs or milk.
STEWED NAVY BEANS
The common small white beans are called navy beans from the fact that they are much used in the navy. These may be prepared in various ways, but the simplest method is to stew them.
In the preparation of this dish, as well as any other made from dried beans, it will be well to remember that 1/2 cupful of beans is usually sufficient to serve four persons when they are cooked.
Look over the required amount of beans, reject any that are imperfect, wash thoroughly, and put to soak overnight in cold water. Pour off any water that remains, cover well with boiling water, and add a pinch of soda.
Cook slowly until the skins begin to burst. Pour off the water, add fresh hot water and 1 teaspoonful of salt for each quart of water, and allow to simmer until the beans may be easily crushed between the fingers.
During this process, the water should cook down until just a sufficient amount to serve with the beans remains. When this is accomplished, add 1-1/2 tablespoonfuls of butter, a dash of pepper, and, if necessary, additional salt. Instead of the butter, ham or bacon fat may be used for seasoning, or a small piece of ham or salt pork may be cooked with the beans and the fat omitted. Serve the beans hot.
Almost any kind of dried beans may be used for baking. Some persons prefer the small navy beans, which are mentioned in this recipe, whereas others like the larger marrowfat beans or Lima beans.
Pinto beans have for some time been taking the place of navy beans, and are found to be a very good substitute. To bake beans successfully, a dish with a tight-fitting cover is required.
This is made of heavy glass, but if such a utensil is not available, very satisfactory results can be obtained by using a heavy earthen bowl, crock, or baking dish. To produce the delicious flavor that is agreeable to most persons, beans should be baked a long time.
Therefore, as considerable heat is consumed in their cooking, it is a wise plan to prepare more than enough for one meal. They may be served the second time as baked beans, or, if this is not desired, they may be used for various other purposes.
Here is what you need for this delicious recipe:
- 1 pt. navy beans
- 2 Tb. molasses
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 lb. bacon or salt pork
Soak the beans overnight, parboil in soda water, and drain. Add a sufficient amount of water to cover the beans well, cook until they break open, and then pour with the liquid into a baking dish.
If this liquid does not almost cover the beans, add more until it comes nearly to the top. Add the molasses and salt, cut the salt pork into pieces, and distribute these well through the beans, placing a piece or two over the top.
Place the cover on the dish and bake in a slow oven for 4 or 5 hours. Remove the cover occasionally, stir the beans carefully so as not to crush nor break them, and add enough water from time to time to keep the beans well moistened.
When done, the beans should be light brown in color, but the top should be well browned. Sometimes it will be found necessary to remove the cover in order to brown the beans sufficiently. Sufficient to Serve Six