Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Tips for How to Thicken Beans


Beans can be a fussy lot when it comes to being too thin or too thick. Sometimes you'll end up with too much water once they're ready, sometimes they can be far too thick like a stew.
  • Remember to start with the stock and/or the minimum amount of water, adding any additional broth or water only as needed during the cooking process if the beans get too thick.
  • Be sure to let the beans simmer on very low - just a bare bubble - and let them just slow stew, stew, stew! A low and slow simmer uncovered, and the occasional stir, helps to make beans nice and creamy.
But, if in the end, the beans are ready, but the liquid is just not thick enough, then you have a couple of options on thickening that I use with all the beans I cook.
  • Remove a cup or two of the beans, mash them up and then return them to the pot and stir in.
  • You can also make a slurry of 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and about a cup or so of cool water, or some of the bean liquid. If you use the bean liquid, remove it first and set it aside to cool slightly.  Whisk the cornstarch in so that it's smooth and has no lumps in it, and then stir it into the beans, allowing them to continue cooking for about 10 minutes longer.
You can even use a combination of these methods.

What is your favorite way to thicken a pot of beans?
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17 comments:

  1. I had thought of the corn starch, but the idea to mash a cup or two of beans was new to me. Thanks for posting. This was just what I needed to do!

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  2. Thank you so much for the advice! This was my first time making pinto beans in a crock pot, and the soup just would not thicken. I removed a cup as you advised, let it cool, mixed with cornstarch, and returned to the pot. It thickened perfectly!

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  3. Have used some instant potatoes or shred some potato into the pot. The starch will thicken the soup and you can't tell the potato is even in it.

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  4. I just read you shouldnt eat potatoes with beans its makes it harder to digest the beans and results in bloating. Instead make a green veggie. Turnip or collards is what I would use. I always make coleslaw. I just read this today .

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    Replies
    1. Where are you from? Who eats beans without fried tators?

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  5. My mother told me slow simmer ALLLL day(seemingly). Last hour uncover & increase heat

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    Replies
    1. Oh yes, absolutely! The problem is that sadly nobody wants to dedicate the time for that these days.

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  6. My grandmother always froze her beans after she cooked them to thicken the juice (soup). She would leave them in the freezer for a couple of day. The juice wad much thicker when the beans were reheated, and I think they taste better.

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    Replies
    1. Oh yes, even just the process of refrigerating them thickens them - even a little too much sometimes! This tip is mostly for those who need to thicken beans they are eating right away.

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  7. Replies
    1. You can. I would recommend a quick mixing flour like Wondra for thickening which is great for gravy too, or making a small roux of butter and flour, cooking that for a few minutes to cook the flour, then add some of the juice from your beans to that, like making a gravy. Once that consistency is mixed well, bring the beans up to a boil, then slowly add it the beans, reduce the heat and let it meld together for a bit to thicken.

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    2. Hi Meelana! If you're using Wondra flour in the canister, then you can just sprinkle that right into the pot. Sprinkle a bit in, let it blend in and cook for a few minutes, then add more if it's not thick enough. If you're using all purpose flour I do recommend cooking it with butter first. How much will depend on how much thickness you need and how much liquid you have. Start with 1 T butter and 1 T flour. Cook that together for a couple of minutes, then scoop out a cup of the beans and liquid, slowly adding that to the butter/flour roux. Once it's smooth, stir it into your beans and let that cook for a few minutes. If it's not thick enough then, repeat. Hope that helps!!

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  8. What is Enough water? Should the water level be above the beans?

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    Replies
    1. Hi John! This is actually just a tip page on how to thicken beans that are already cooked and not as thick as you like. If you click
      here you can scroll through my various bean recipes that should be helpful.

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