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Easter at home?

Easter at home?
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  • Post #31 - April 5th, 2021, 12:50 pm
    Post #31 - April 5th, 2021, 12:50 pm Post #31 - April 5th, 2021, 12:50 pm
    I cooked a ham with a glaze of Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and peach and apricot preserves. The best parts of the ham to eat hot out of the oven are the bits that glaze gets on. I sliced up much of the rest for a neighbor and me, and saved all the miscellaneous scraps, glazy and otherwise, for soup and such.

    I found a large bag of dry navy beans that I thought would be too old to ever soften up, so I thought I'd boil them all and find out the worst. After rinsing and soaking all the beans (in water only, no salt), about 2 lbs, I decided to split them into two pots to cook separately---half for bean soup and half for bean dip. I put the ham bone with quite a bit of meat still on it in one of the pots. I did not add any other salt or seasonings; I figured I'd just cook the beans in water and turn them into soup the next day.

    I saw that Serious Eats says that it's a myth that salt in the cooking water toughens beans; indeed, SE says salt makes them softer. At least last night, my experience was the opposite: all other things being equal, the beans with the ham bone took about an hour longer to soften completely than the beans in water only. If it's not the salt in the meat on the ham bone, I can't think what else could be responsible for the difference, unless it's the gelatin from around the bone joint and in the marrow.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #32 - April 5th, 2021, 1:31 pm
    Post #32 - April 5th, 2021, 1:31 pm Post #32 - April 5th, 2021, 1:31 pm
    Katie wrote:I saw that Serious Eats says that it's a myth that salt in the cooking water toughens beans; indeed, SE says salt makes them softer. At least last night, my experience was the opposite: all other things being equal, the beans with the ham bone took about an hour longer to soften completely than the beans in water only. If it's not the salt in the meat on the ham bone, I can't think what else could be responsible for the difference, unless it's the gelatin from around the bone joint and in the marrow.


    I don't know if it makes a difference but isn't the Serious Eats instruction to soak the beans in salty water to make them softer, not cook them in salt water necessarily? At any rate, since learning of it, I have found brining the beans first gives them a better texture, flavor, and seems to keep them less likely to completely fall apart than normally soaked or unsoaked beans.
  • Post #33 - April 5th, 2021, 2:13 pm
    Post #33 - April 5th, 2021, 2:13 pm Post #33 - April 5th, 2021, 2:13 pm
    It appears to me that Serious Eats (Should I Salt My Bean-Cooking Water?) advocates salting both the soaking water and the cooking water.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #34 - April 5th, 2021, 3:02 pm
    Post #34 - April 5th, 2021, 3:02 pm Post #34 - April 5th, 2021, 3:02 pm
    Looking at the table of results, it does seem the salted soak is the more important part; there's barely any difference between salted soak/unsalted cook and salted soak/salted cook, so I suppose that's why it didn't seem to matter to me. (Although my cooking medium probably is usually mildly salted, though I tend to wait until the end.) But it does seem that unsalted soak/salted cook is still noticeably better than unsalted soak/unsalted cook.
  • Post #35 - April 5th, 2021, 4:21 pm
    Post #35 - April 5th, 2021, 4:21 pm Post #35 - April 5th, 2021, 4:21 pm
    Acids toughen beans. Salt does not. If salt did, all those iconic dishes with beans and smoked pork hocks, bacon, ham, etc. would be fails. Instead, they're among the most delicious, foolproof Beans+ dishes one can cook.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #36 - April 5th, 2021, 7:45 pm
    Post #36 - April 5th, 2021, 7:45 pm Post #36 - April 5th, 2021, 7:45 pm
    Katie wrote:I saw that Serious Eats says that it's a myth that salt in the cooking water toughens beans; indeed, SE says salt makes them softer. At least last night, my experience was the opposite: all other things being equal, the beans with the ham bone took about an hour longer to soften completely than the beans in water only. If it's not the salt in the meat on the ham bone, I can't think what else could be responsible for the difference, unless it's the gelatin from around the bone joint and in the marrow.


    Are you sure that everything else (amount of liquid, temperature, etc.) were exactly the same?
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #37 - April 7th, 2021, 12:18 am
    Post #37 - April 7th, 2021, 12:18 am Post #37 - April 7th, 2021, 12:18 am
    I recall a Cook's Illustrated article that recommended salting beans when soaking in hard water, because the magnesium and calcium that make water hard also make beans hard, but the sodium in salt tends to get grabbed up by the beans in preference to the other metal ions.
    The website has a slightly different take: https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_to ... -for-beans but still suggests that salt=softer beans, or bean skins at least.

    To go back to Easter, I double-smoked a piece of 49 cent/lb Sugardale ham that was on special at Mariano's a while back. Then cut a boneless chunk from it, glazed with grated piloncillo (only brown sugar in the house) mixed with Czech mustard and a little cider vinegar, studded with a few cloves, baked it for an hour. It was pretty darn good given the investment in ingredients, and counting my time at what it's worth.
  • Post #38 - April 7th, 2021, 1:51 pm
    Post #38 - April 7th, 2021, 1:51 pm Post #38 - April 7th, 2021, 1:51 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:
    Katie wrote:I saw that Serious Eats says that it's a myth that salt in the cooking water toughens beans; indeed, SE says salt makes them softer. At least last night, my experience was the opposite: all other things being equal, the beans with the ham bone took about an hour longer to soften completely than the beans in water only. If it's not the salt in the meat on the ham bone, I can't think what else could be responsible for the difference, unless it's the gelatin from around the bone joint and in the marrow.

    Are you sure that everything else (amount of liquid, temperature, etc.) were exactly the same?

    Yes. I had all the beans and water in one pot and then decided to move half of the beans and water to a second pot of the same size, and ladled beans and water in to the second pot as needed to achieve the same amount of cover. I then added the ham bone to one of the two pots. The reason I split the full quantity of beans and water into two pots was that I decided I only wanted to use half of the beans for soup and wanted the other half completely unseasoned by ham or anything else for use in puréed bean dip. Then I brought the two pots up to a boil, turned them down to a gentle simmer/boil, and kept them that way side by side for 2-3 hrs, the beans without the ham bone becoming soft enough closer to 2 hrs and the one with the ham bone not reaching the same degree of softness til closer to 3 hrs.

    I just found this NY Times article that says (my italics added): "The food scientist Harold McGee wrote in these pages in 2008 that salting beans at the beginning of cooking does slow down the cooking somewhat, but won’t stop them from softening. He also suggests salting the soaking water, basically making a brine, if you plan to soak your beans overnight."

    This prompted me to reread the Serious Eats article I referenced earlier, and I notice that nowhere does it comment on the effect of salt in the cooking water on the amount of time it takes for the beans to soften. Rather, the point of the article is that salt in the soaking water and salt in the cooking water together produce better bean flavor and texture than either alone or neither.

    The comments section of the Serious Eats article includes the following:

    "You are a few years late Kenji. Harold McGee wrote in the NYT in 2008 in answer to a question about when to salt when cooking beans “Q: When should I add salt when cooking dried beans? I’ve heard not to add salt too early because it slows down the cooking. However, when I add salt towards the end, the flavor seems a bit flat. — Posted by Christina

    "Harold McGee replies: Salt does slow the softening of dried beans, but adding it early also gets salt into the bean interior, while adding late leaves most of the salt on or near the surface. If you’re thinking ahead early enough to presoak the beans, salt in the presoaking water actually speeds the cooking, in addition to salting the beans evenly.”

    I take from this that Harold McGee says that (aside from the effect on flavor, which benefits from early salting, i.e., in the soaking water) salt added to the soaking water speeds softening, whereas, in the case of beans not soaked in salted water, adding salt to the cooking water slows softening.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"

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