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Q&A

Can you get the starchy byproduct of canned beans starting from dried beans?

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Canned beans (like great northern beans or black beans) come with fluid that is thicker than water. I believe this thickening is starch being leached out of the beans into the water during the canning process. When I cook with canned beans I usually drain them and then rinse them.

A friend makes a stovetop soup by draining only some of this thick liquid, not rinsing the beans, and using relatively little additional water. She brings the pot to a boil and then covers the pot and simmers for a while. The result is a very thick broth.

My friend would like to achieve this same thickened broth (a) starting with dried beans and (b) in a slow-cooker. A slow-cooker usually does not reach a boil. Is there a way to do this without adding a different thickener to the soup, or is this effect only possible if the beans are boiled? (Yes, my friend expects to soak the dried beans first, not add dry beans directly to the slow-cooker.)

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1 answer

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While beans are often canned with calcium chloride to keep cell walls strongs and salt for flavor, all of the starch that leaches into the water is inherent in the beans. It just needs to be let out through the cooking process.

The USDA has a guide at https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_04/beans_peas_shelled.html

which recommends either a 12 hour soak or a 2 minute boil followed by a 1 hour soak; throwing away the first water and bringing to a boil in new water for 30 minutes. The first water soak is important to remove toxins from some bean varieties, as well as start the hydration process.

The second set of water, in which the beans have boiled for 30 minutes, will have a fair amount of starch dissolved in it, but not as much as it will later. If you don't want to properly can the beans, you can store them in the water in a refrigerator for several days to get the released starch.

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