While cooking dried beans is a thrifty—and some think tastier—alternative to relying on canned beans, it can make for a frustrating experience when they never seem to soften no matter how long they’re simmered. The age of the beans and what you add to the cooking water makes all the difference, according to Chowhounds.

“The older the beans are, the longer they take to cook,” Gio says. Make sure you cook them at no more than a steady simmer, she says, because “boiling them makes them tough and splits the skin.” And while it’s not true that salt keeps beans from becoming tender, adding acidic ingredients before the beans have cooked adequately “keeps them from ever getting soft,” says sunshine842.

The best way to cook dried beans is with a pressure cooker, thinks sueatmo. “It makes doing beans child’s play,” she says. “You’ll do it a couple of times, then get the hang of it, and you won’t do beans any other way.” The convenience and fast cooking time with a pressure cooker “means that you will have many more occasions to eat beans,” she adds.

Discuss: Dried Beans – What’s is the trick?
pressure cooker beans vs. stovetop cooked beans

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