How To Prevent Beans From Breaking Open While Cooking

Are your beans always bursting open while cooking, leaving you with a mushy mess instead of tender, intact legumes? Fear not! There are two simple tricks that will prevent this culinary catastrophe and ensure your beans maintain their shape and texture: gentle simmering and infrequent stirring.

First, when cooking beans avoid vigorous boiling, as this can cause the skins to break open. Instead, maintain a low, steady heat that barely causes any movement in the pot. To achieve this gentle simmer, start by bringing your pot of beans and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat down to low and let the beans simmer for an extended period. You should see only slight movement throughout the liquid, with small bubbles breaking the surface occasionally. If the liquid is actively bubbling, adjust the heat accordingly to maintain a benign simmer.

The second important tip is to resist the urge to stir your beans too frequently while they are simmering away. Stirring too often also causes the beans to split open, especially if they're already tender. Instead, stir very gently and only occasionally to redistribute the beans and ensure even cooking.

Cook your dried beans to perfection

While the canned variety offers convenience, dried beans have a distinct advantage in flavor and texture. Cooking dried beans from scratch may seem daunting at first, but it's actually quite simple once you know the basics. Start by sorting through the beans to remove any debris or damaged seeds, and rinse them thoroughly under cold water to remove dirt or dust. Then, place the beans in a large pot and cover them with water. You can either cook them directly or allow them to soak overnight (or for at least 8 hours) to help soften them and reduce cooking time.

Once your beans are properly soaked, drain them and return to the pot. Now add fresh water to cover the beans by about 2 inches, and bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat significantly. As the beans simmer, be sure to add warm water as necessary to keep them covered. Occasionally stir the beans with a light touch, and continue simmering until they are tender but still hold their shape. Add salt to taste.

When the beans are cooked to your desired doneness, turn off the stove and let them cool in the cooking liquid. Now your perfectly cooked beans are ready to be used in soups, stews, salads, and more. With a little practice and patience, you'll become a pro at cooking beans without enduring any breakage.