Part 1 Salting and Soaking Dried Pinto Beans
1Rinse dried pinto beans with cool tap water. Pour your beans into a colander, and jiggle the colander under running water for one minute to wash residual dirt off your beans. You can sift through the beans with your fingers to help clean them.
- Soaking canned beans will make them mushy. Only soak dried beans.
2Inspect your rinsed beans for any impurities. Pour your rinsed beans onto a baking sheet and sort through them with your fingers. Throw any bits of gravel or other debris in the trash.
3Pour your sorted pinto beans into a large, clean pot. Leave at least 6 inches (15 cm) of space between your beans and the top. Add cool tap water 4 cups (946 ml) at a time to your rinsed beans. Keep adding the water until your beans are fully submerged by at least 2 inches (5.1 cm) of liquid.
- For example, a 1-quart pot would leave plenty of room for ½ cup (100 g) of dried pinto beans.
5Soak your beans for at least 6-8 hours. For a shortcut, soak your pinto beans overnight, so you can cook with them in the morning. Soaking allows the salt to fully penetrate and flavor your beans.
6Rinse your beans with cool water before cooking. Use a colander to strain your soaked beans. Discard the soaking water in the sink. Then, pour the pinto beans back into the pot you soaked them in.
7Add a pinch of salt to your beans for cooking. Cook your beans as desired over a medium heat on the stove top, using a 3:1 ratio of water to beans. If your recipe calls for salty ingredients such as broth or ham, season with less salt during cooking to prevent an overly salty dish.
- Achieving tender pinto beans typically takes 1-2 hours.
Part 2 Adding Spices While Cooking
1Add just a pinch of salt to canned beans when cooking. Canned pinto beans have already been soaked in a salty liquid. They’re ready to cook with after draining the canning liquid. Simply add a pinch of salt for added flavor, if desired, when you cook them.
- Rinsing canned beans with water can help remove traces of residual canning liquid, which may thicken your recipe. For some dishes, such as chili, a little thickening may be desired. Use your judgment.
- Canned beans are technically ready to eat right out of the can. Cooking them with spices just adds flavor. There is no specific ratio of beans to liquid that is necessary for cooking canned beans.
2Use Mexican seasoning for a spicy kick. For every 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) of pinto beans, add 2 tsp (5 g) of chili powder, 1 tsp (2.5 g) of cumin, .5 tsp (1.25 g) of paprika, 2 bay leaves, and .25 tsp (.6 g) of cayenne pepper to your cooking liquid. Add black pepper to taste.
- Remove the bay leaves, which are too firm to eat, before serving the beans.
- Use this seasoning blend for chili, refried beans, bean tacos and other Mexican specialties.
3Use Italian seasoning to change things up a bit. For every .5 pounds (0.23 kg) pounds of pinto beans, add a clove of garlic, 2 bay leaves, 2 stems of rosemary, 1 tsp (2.5 g) of oregano, and 2 Tbsp of olive oil (30 ml) to your cooking liquid.
- If you’re feeling adventurous, add up to three anchovy filets or some cooked, ground sausage for additional flavor.
- Remove the bay leaves before serving the beans.
4Try sweet baked beans for a tasty side dish. For every 1 pound (0.45 kg) of pinto beans, add 8 chopped slices of bacon, 1 cup (240 g) of ketchup, .5 cup (168 g) of molasses, .25 cup (57g) of light brown sugar, and 2 Tbsp (30 ml) balsamic vinegar to your cooking liquid.
- Cook baked beans in the oven for 5 hours at 325 °F (163 °C).
- To deepen the flavor, add a little mustard and Worcestershire sauce as suits your taste.
- Baked beans make a great accompaniment to a summer barbeque.
5Create a homemade seasoning blend. Use your spice cabinet as inspiration. Create a curry blend with coriander and cumin, whip up a Cajun blend with paprika and pepper, or mix together some cinnamon and hot spices for a Jamaican jerk blend. Experiment with different flavors to find what tastes good to you.
6Add spices in small amounts and taste your beans before adding more. Remember that you can always add more seasoning to your pinto beans, but it’s difficult to remove seasoning once added. Taste your beans each time you add spices to determine if the blend needs something more or is just right.
- Add spices once your beans have cooked a little so you can actually taste them. If you add spices too soon, the beans will still be hard, and it will be difficult to taste test the seasoning.
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Things You’ll Need
- Sample your beans occasionally while cooking to get the perfect flavor and consistency. Overcooked beans may become mushy.
- For added flavor, swap in other liquids, such as vegetable broth, beer, or chicken stock, instead of water when cooking pinto beans.