When is the best time to salt beans?
At Primary Beans, we obsess over creating delicious beans while making everyday cooking easy and accessible, which is why we were excited to partner with Karishma Pradhan of Home Cooking Collective. She shares our shameless geekery and belief that anyone can cook delicious beans if they’re armed with high quality beans and some background knowledge. Bean cooking can get a bit controversial, so in partnership with Primary Beans, Karishma set out to put an end to some of the most pressing bean cooking questions. For the complete guide, head here.
The exact timing for adding salt is controversial among cooks. For example, some say you should never salt your beans before cooking because it greatly increases cook time– you may have even heard that pre-salted beans will never cook through. On the other hand, Cooks Illustrated and Serious Eats recommend soaking beans in salted water (aka a brine) beforehand; they argue it helps soften the beans during the cooking process. In this experiment, I ran four different tests on Chickpeas from Primary Beans to determine the best method:
- Unsoaked, salt added at the beginning of cooking
- Unsoaked, salt added halfway through cooking
- 6 hour soak in salted water, rinsed, then salt added halfway through cooking
- 6 hour soak in unsalted water, rinsed, then salt added at the beginning of cooking
Soaking for 6 hours with salt added at the beginning of cooking was the preferred batch. As we saw in the “Do I need to soak beans?” experiment, soaking chickpeas leads to beans that are slightly more evenly cooked compared to the unsoaked counterpart. And salting them at the beginning flavored the bean inside and out. The non-soaked beans had a marginally less even texture, but were still nicely salted.
Adding salt halfway through cooking, whether the beans were soaked or unsoaked, performed the worst. The salt didn't penetrate fully into the center of the chickpeas and they tasted rather bland.
Regardless of whether you soak your beans, you should always salt them at the beginning of the cooking process. That way, the salt has time to fully penetrate into the center of the beans and they will be flavored inside and out.