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       Volume I - November 24, 2006

Soft Beans For Sure!
by Alice Osborne

My grandmother baked (and stirred) her beans all day. Not having the time or inclination for that approach, I wanted to dump my beans in a slow cooker and forget about them. However, they kept on coming out tough, not creamy and soft like my grandmother's.

After some research and experimentation (which defines much of our cooking approach) we hit on the secret. And since a pot of yummy beans is a wintertime tradition for a lot of us, we thought you might appreciate our answer to this dilemma:

We now place a layer of foil directly on the beans, THEN add the slow cooker lid. This helps to keep the heat at the bottom of the pot-and in the beans, where it belongs-rather than letting it rise to the lid. This step also shaves hours off the cooking time.

And a few more slow-cooker bean tips: If it's Boston Baked Beans you're after, use mild molasses rather than the dark or blackstrap type-they become bitter-tasting in the slow cooker. Finally, to brighten flavor, add a bit more molasses just before serving. Mustard and vinegar will perk things up as well; they are always best added at the end of cooking because their acidity can toughen the beans.

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