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Beans and Tomatoes

I just received my Gigante beans from Greece. I want to try this recipe, but is adding the tomatoes with the beans "don't do it" mantra just a wives tale similar to the "don't salt your beans before cooking", "don't wash your mushrooms" and "never scrub your cast iron pan"?
http://www.alexandracooks...

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

asked about 1 year ago
15 answers 627 views
609271d6 306e 4b3e 8479 9d404fb84e73  moi 1
QueenSashy

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added about 1 year ago

Susan, why do you think beans and tomatoes are "don't"? I've never heard of that... Don't people combine them all the time, e.g. chili? Or maybe I misunderstood your question.

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Susan W

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added about 1 year ago

You know..I must go find where I got that, but I could have sworn I've read over and over not to cook dried beans with tomatoes. I don't add beans to my chili, but if I did, they would have already been cooked.

609271d6 306e 4b3e 8479 9d404fb84e73  moi 1
QueenSashy

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added about 1 year ago

Now that you mentioned it, I think that it might have to do with food combining principles to avoid indigestion. I recall the "do not's" along the lines of "do not eat carbs and protein" and "do not eat carbs and acidic foods together". Just looked it up, here we go, beans and tomatoes is a combo to avoid http://www.acidalkalinediet...

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
Cav
added about 1 year ago

Anything from a place that isn't peddling nonsense? The whole Acid-Alkaline diet is rubbish, never mind their anti-cancer diet.

730e314f caf5 438f 9a9a 998057ffb9ff  20151109 150352
Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added about 1 year ago

It was more of a "the beans won't cook" theory. I rarely eat beans, so the dietary warning would not have drawn my attention.

Here's one person's voice on this. If I were using a local, easy to find bean, I would just experiment, but these were sent to me from Greece.
http://www.chowhound.com...

609271d6 306e 4b3e 8479 9d404fb84e73  moi 1
QueenSashy

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added about 1 year ago

Cav - please do not shoot the messenger. I just passed a link that might help explain Susan's question :)

730e314f caf5 438f 9a9a 998057ffb9ff  20151109 150352
Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added about 1 year ago

I appreciate your input QueenSashy. I love the sounds of this recipe, so I will carry on.

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AntoniaJames

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added about 1 year ago

Never put tomatoes into a pot with beans until they are as soft as you want them to be. The acidity utterly and irrevocably arrests any further softening. You can cook the beans at a boil for an hour with the tomatoes and they will be just as hard.

It is not an old wives' tale. It is absolutely sound advice. ;o)

730e314f caf5 438f 9a9a 998057ffb9ff  20151109 150352
Susan W

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added about 1 year ago

Because this recipe is tried and true, I am going to try it. It could be the length of time in a slow cooker makes a difference. I've said it before, never stop trying or learning new things. I'll report back.

B3038408 42c1 4c18 b002 8441bee13ed3  new years kitchen hlc only
AntoniaJames

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added about 1 year ago

Let us know how they turn out! ;o)

695013bb 6175 44d4 9967 d3fa0ab27033  stringio
added about 1 year ago

Rumor is acidity toughens beans, and I suppose it does to some extent- I avoid vinegar, but tomatoes aren't all that acidic, and the amounts are usually pretty small- I've cooked a ton of beans with tomatoes- maybe they were tougher than they would have been otherwise, but not enough to worry about, or even to notice.

730e314f caf5 438f 9a9a 998057ffb9ff  20151109 150352
Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added about 1 year ago

Another wives take debunked.

B3038408 42c1 4c18 b002 8441bee13ed3  new years kitchen hlc only
AntoniaJames

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added about 1 year ago

I have cooked beans -- Rancho Gordo, so age and quality were not at issue -- when I've added tomatoes too soon and they remained almost chalklike. Apparently I am not alone in having experienced this.

Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking," under the subtitle, "Cooking Legumes," notes:

Cell wall hemicelluloses are more soluble in alkaline conditions, and seeds, like stems and leaves, will soften more readily for this reason than they would in acidic water. Veteran chili makers have probably noticed this effect when they put partially cooked beans into chili sauce: the beans simply do not get any softer, no matter how long the acidic sauce is simmered (the same thing happened with baked beans; in this case, calcium ions in the acidic molasses also complex with the cell wall materials and make them even less soluble).

(From the 1984 Collier edition, page 262.)

McGee goes on to observe that this property can be put to good use in the situation where the beans are cooked perfectly, but need to be kept warm. If the environment is made acid, they will not turn to mush.

The Rancho Gordo site agrees: "If you want to add tomatoes or acids like lime or vinegar, wait until the beans are cooked through." http://www.ranchogordo...

I suspect that the actual ingredients (age of beans + level of acidity in the tomatoes -- and canned tomatoes vary quite a bit in this regard) and ratio of beans to tomatoes to water (the alkalinity of which could vary from place to place, also affecting the effect of the acidity of the tomatoes), and one's tolerance for slightly crunchy cooked beans all figure into the equation.

If I had a bag of special beans from Greece, not easily replaced, I would not take the chance, given the unknowns involved in each of those variables. ;o)

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added about 1 year ago

It's not a rumor or an old-wives tale, exactly: Acidity does make for firmer cooked beans and will prevent beans from softening, at a certain point. The practical question is, when do you reach that point?

To test this, Cooks Illustrated cooked white beans in different water+vinegar mixtures at different pH levels from 3 (strongly acidic) to 9 (mildly alkaline). Here's what they found:

"The beans cooked at a pH of 3 . . . remained crunchy and tough-skinned despite being allowed to cook 30 minutes longer than the other three batches. The beans cooked at pHs of 5, 7, and 9 showed few differences, although the 9 pH batch finished a few minutes ahead of the 7 pH batch and about 20 minutes ahead of the 5 pH batch."

https://christopherkimball...

Canned tomatoes have a pH of around 3.5 to 4.5, so if the cooking liquid was entirely or mostly tomatoes or also contained large amounts of vinegar or other strongly acidic ingredients, there might be a problem.

But the cooking liquid in the recipe Susan cited is mostly stock or water, whose pH is (generally) close to neutral. The beans should soften, although it might take a bit longer than if they were cooked in a non-acidic liquid.

730e314f caf5 438f 9a9a 998057ffb9ff  20151109 150352
Susan W

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added about 1 year ago

Well, the verdict is in. I followed the recipe exactly and these beans are delicious. Very buttery inside. Great flavored broth that was a delicious soaked up with crusty bread.

I don't know if this was such a success because of the long cooking time in the slow cooker or because the tomatoes were 14 ounces to 4 cups of stock.
R
I'm going to make Merrill's Brothy Garlicky beans with the other 8 ounces of beans. I'll put the tomatoes in at the end as the recipe calls for and see if there's a difference.

Either way, I highly recommend these wonderful beans and recipe.