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RE: Black bean problem

Whether served alone or in salads and soups/stews, beans cooked according
to Martha Rose Shulman's recipe in Light Basics Cookbook are the best I've
ever eaten. Or, as my children used to say, "Yummy, yummy in the tummy!"

(Minimally modified from Light Basics Cookbook by Martha Rose Shulman, p. 205)

1 pound dried black or pinto beans, picked over and rinsed
7 c. water
1 medium-size onion, peeled and chopped
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
about 2 ts. salt (to taste)
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. Soak beans in the water for 6 or more hours.

2. Using the soaking water, bring the beans to a boil and skim off any foam
that rises. Add the onion and half the garlic.  Make sure the beans are
covered by at least 1 inch of water (add more water, if necessary), reduce
the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

3. Add the salt, remaining garlic, and cilantro.  Continue to simmer until
the beans are tender and the broth is thick and fragrant, about another
hour.  Let sit overnight in the refrigerator for the best flavor.

White beans, navy beans, giant white beans:  Drain the beans after soaking.
 Omit the cilantro.  Add a bay leaf along with the onion and the first 2
cloves of garlic.  Check to make sure they are not getting mushy after 1.5
hours of cooking.

Chickpeas:  Need only salt, which is added during the last hour of cooking.

Black-eyed peas and lentils:  These cook quickly and require no soaking.
Bring to boil; skim off any foam.  Add the onion, half the garlic, and a
bay leaf. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add salt
to taste and the remaining garlic.  Simmer until soft but not mushy,
another 15-30 minutes.

Hints for novice bean cooks:  

Putting the beans in a single layer on a white background makes it much
easier to locate the defective beans and extraneous matter that should be
removed before soaking.

To preserve the texture of the beans, drain them before freezing. (The
delicious thick broth can be reserved and frozen separately.)