Can I salt beans before they are cooked?

I am making Merrill's Brothy, Garlicky Beans, and she has us add a teaspoon of sea salt to the quickly soaked beans right away along with veggies & aromatics. Am I clinging to an outmoded notion that beans won't cook well if salt is added too early? Thanks for any advice!

  • 1619 views
  • 9 Comments

9 Comments

mstv June 11, 2014
I do it both ways (salt at the beginning and the end) depending on the dish. For a pot of Mexican style (simply boiled beans) I usually salt at the end but for red beans and rice and some other dishes I salt before hand. I find either one works just fine.
 
ChefJune June 5, 2014
I always salt after the beans are soft, but before they are done. I have some Rio Zape simmering right now. Just salted them after 45 minutes of cooking time. I have friends and colleagues who swear that's not necessary, but that's how my momma taught me, and tho I have tried the other, even when the beans are fresh, they don't get soft. So....
 
Tippy C. June 6, 2014
Thanks ChefJune. I am glad to learn new ways of cooking beans.
 
Jan W. June 4, 2014
I read the recipe - in this particular one, Merrill is using a fast parboil method with navy beans which is definitely a tried and true way of doing it. Adding salt to most of the common bean varieties (white/Navy, cannellini, kidney, pinto, cranberry, etc.) will not keep them from softening. In fact, Cook's Illustrated tested it and found that it helps improve the texture of the cooked beans - read about it here: http://tinyurl.com/kxzmf9u (Article at TheKitchn)
 
Tippy C. June 4, 2014
Thanks so much for the link. That is helpful information! I thought there must be some bean research that I needed to know about.
 
spiffypaws June 4, 2014
I make beans every week, and I salt them right away. Never have a problem. I've found that they are only tough if they are very old.
 
Tippy C. June 4, 2014
Thanks!
 
bigpan June 4, 2014
I salt after. Likewise with acid (tomato). Adding early will keep the beans tough - which is not desirable.
 
Tippy C. June 4, 2014
Thanks very much for your answer. I usually salt after as well, but I also trust Merrill and her recipes and have a hunch that that she probably knows something I don't know.
 
Recommended by Food52