Haricot Bean: Processing and Cooking

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Black, pinto, and red kidney beans are canned successfully (see canning).

baked beans are produced commercially from navy and pea beans grown in the USA. The dish which inspired the canning of this product was Boston baked beans.

Although a preliminary soaking is a common procedure when cooking haricot beans, it is not universal. Mexicans often omit this step and start the cooking in hot water. Soaking and cooking times vary widely, depending on the age and size of the beans.

Some cooks add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda to the soaking water to render dried beans more digestible and to shorten cooking times. The latter aim is met, since the bicarbonate helps to dissolve the cell walls, a process which also speeds the exit of ‘the flatulating oligosaccharides’ (as the substances causing flatulence are known) from the beans. Unfortunately, however, loss of desirable nutrients also occurs.