Beans, beans are great to eat…well, first you have to be able to cook them. I guess I am a creature of habit because, I was in autopilot mode when I decided to make some beans. Err, how could I have forgotten that I’m living at 7000 feet?! Cooking dried beans at this altitude can be a challenge. Just so you know, at this elevation soaking beans for 8 hours and cooking in a crock pot does not work. Heating water and cooking beans at elevations over 3500ft have to have adjustments. Hopefully this post will explain is a why it is difficult and how to prepare dried beans.
Beans are in my opinion are great because they are high in fiber, which keeps you full longer, and they are loaded with protein. Dried beans have a hard outer covering that requires soaking in water prior to simmering. Salt should not be used in the water for soaking because it makes the covering more resistant to water penetration during cooking. (I prefer to salt toward the end of cooking so the beans tenderness is not affected.) A pre-cook boil (2 minutes) is recommended to inactivate enzymes that can make you sick. To help soften the beans faster you can also add 1/8 tsp of baking soda to water. The faster cooking time helps offset loss of thiamine due to adding the baking soda.
Nutrition Content of Kidney Beans:
1 cup (cooked, boiled, salt)
Dietary Fiber 13.1g
Folate 230 µg
When atmospheric pressure is low liquid boils at a lower temperature. If liquids are boiling at a lower temperature on top of a mountain it hard to cook foods! It takes forever. So as altitude increases it takes more time to rehydrate and cook dried beans.
The temperature required to boil foods is at least 100° C or 212° F. So even though water is boiling, it is boiling at a much lower temperature which is not enough to cook food. Simply, it is boiling but it is not hot.
Boiling point is affected by altitude, barometric pressure, steam pressure and dissolved solids. Less atmospheric pressure lowers the boiling point. Boiling occurs when the water is hot enough to have the same pressure as the surrounding air. Dissolved solids (salt) raise the boiling point and will help cook foods quicker. For every 1000ft you go above sea level the boiling point falls by 2° F . The way to remedy this is by adding salt to the water, this will increase the boiling temperature.
Pasta e Fagioli
Recipe Adapted from Cuisine At Home
- 1 lb dry red or white kidney beans, sorted and rinsed
- 6 cups water
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
- 6 oz. diced pancetta
- 1 1/2 cups diced onion
- 1/2 cup each diced carrot and celery
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
- 3 cans diced tomatoes in juice (14.5 oz each)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 cups dry ditalini pasta
- Grated Parmesan
- Soak beans in 6 cups water in a large pot, covered, refrigerated overnight or at least 8 hours.
- Add baking soda to pot. Bring beans to a boil; boil for 10 minutes.
- Drain and rinse beans, then transfer to a 7-8 quart slow cooker. Stir in baking soda and 5 cups broth.
- Cook pancetta in a saute pan over medium heat until crisp, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate, and set aside. Reserve 3 Tbsp drippings
- Saute onion, carrot, and celery in drippings in same pan over medium-high heat until onion begins to brown, 6- 7 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and garlic; cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
- Deglaze pan with remaining 1 cup broth, scraping up any browned bits. Pour mixture over beans in slow cooker. Add italian seasoning and stir.
- Cover slow cooker and cook beans until tender on high setting, 3-4 hours, or on low setting, 4-5 hours. Stir in tomatoes; season soup with salt and pepper. Cover slow cooker and cook 1 more hour.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions; drain.
- Divide pasta among bowls; ladle soup over pasta. Garnish with Parmesan and pancetta.
Thankfully, I got the beans just right for this recipe. Cooking dried beans takes a little extra time but they are definitely worth the effort 😀
Hope you enjoy!