Everyone knows you should soak your beans before cooking them, and how long you should soak them varies depending on what you want to do. America's Test Kitchen suggests that if you really want a creamy, smooth texture without mushy, gluey beans, you should brine them — that is, soak them in salt water — instead of letting them soak in the fridge in plain tap water.
We've discussed soaking beans for 24 hours to help with their... gaseous properties, and even shown you a "power soak" method that takes only a few minutes, but Bridget Lancaster from America's Test Kitchen explains why brining — not just soaking — does wonders for the flavour and the texture of your dried beans in the video above.
It doesn't take a lot of salt to brine a pound of beans, either — only about three tablespoons of table salt to four litres of water. Stir in the salt, then stir in your beans, and let them rest at room temperature for 8-24 hours. She even notes that if 8 hours is too long for you to wait, brining works just as well with our "power soak" method — just bring the salt and water to a boil, remove from the heat, cover and let stand for an hour.
The action really starts at the two-minute mark in the video above, but the whole thing is worth a watch if you're not convinced why brining makes a difference. Do you brine beans before cooking them? Not sold on the whole idea? Share your thoughts — and your cooking tips — in the comments below.
The Importance of Brining Your Beans [America's Test Kitchen]