Does anyone actually like canned beans?
Yes, I’m totally serious.
If you find a recipe online that includes beans in the ingredients list, chances are that it calls for canned beans. And I honestly don’t know why. Canned beans are terrible.
To be specific I am not talking about flavored beans. Beans in tomato sauce or a sugary sauce for baked or barbecue beans tend to be OK. It’s the unflavored ones that bother me.
I could only wish that a lack of flavor was the only problem with canned beans, but in addition to that they also tend to have a sharp metallic taste. I don’t even know how that can happen. Canned tomatoes don’t taste that bad. Are they just not cleaning the cans before they put the beans in them?
We are living in an age where it’s surprisingly common for people to have access to pressure cookers which can cook dry beans en masse within an hour’s time. And the result will be properly nutty, buttery, and creamy like they are supposed to taste.
I get that canned beans are always going to be more convenient, but they taste so much worse that I honestly don’t think the resulting dish should be called the same thing.
Am I the only one who feels this way?
I actually don't like to eat dried beans for most varieties (exceptions: lentils, split peas, split mung beans, sometimes whole mung beans)! I find that even with soaking and a long cook time the texture is never as consistently soft as canned beans, and I almost never want my beans to be firm (outside of maybe chickpeas or kidney beans in a salad situation, or if I'm going to sprout them for something).
I'm surprised you feel like it has a metallic/worse taste. Have you tried multiple brands? I ate almost exclusively HEB-brand and Goya when I ate in the US, but I can't recall any that I actively disliked. And as a long-time vegetarian I've eaten a lot of canned legumes, especially black beans and chickpeas. I tended to always rinse the chickpeas, but only rinse the black beans sometimes.
See, it’s things like this that makes me feel like I am insane.
And yes, every canned bean I have eaten has been like this regardless of brand.
I also notice that some times canned beans have weird textures. It’s pretty common for them to have a weird grittyness to them.
I find a lot of tips for cooking beans in general tend to be really bad, but I have left it alone as a matter of taste. IMHO beans only start getting good after they have become “overcooked” and are bursting out of their skins because that is when they are creamy. But canned beans never are when compared to how nice they taste when I make them from dried.
Sounds like you have something going on with the taste, kind of like how cilantro tastes like soap to some people! I'm sorry for your loss. Here in Taiwan, I miss eating legumes as much as I used to. Savory beans here are very very rare outside of soybeans. Adzuki beans and mung beans are used in desserts, but besides those three, any other kind of bean (unless you count peanuts) is extremely rare.
I’ve got the cilantro thing too.
Maybe I should just be happy that there is a way I can cook beans that makes them palatable.
If it makes you feel better, I have something similar with bell peppers (capsicum) - they’re accepted as this totally inoffensive ingredient that almost everyone seems to like, and I’ll tolerate them if I need to, but even the smallest amount somehow flattens and dominates every other flavour in a dish for me.
I love exploring food in general, I’m totally on board with strong flavours, chilli heat, bitter ingredients, spice, fermented funk, but some how this absolute staple that toddlers eat for an afternoon snack is my kryptonite!
Try a pressure cooker. An overnight soak with around 30 minutes in a pressure cooker will get nearly anything soft. I cooked brown chana (chickpeas) which are far more fiberous than white chickpeas last night and they turned out great.
Upon further reflection I realized that the last time I bought canned chickpeas it might not have had that flavor to it. I was mostly upset because it was vastly inferior to my previous attempt with dried chickpeas.
(Alert! semi-gross question/discussion inbound) Does anyone else get diarrhea from eating dried beans. I mean after an overnight soak and hours long cook? My partner and I tried for months to figure out what we were doing wrong after we bought a 25lb bag of dried black beans and eventually gave up because we were sick of having diarrhea. It never felt like we were consuming something bad or that we had a stomach bug, just that we were voiding something our bodies were unhappy with. I get a have a similar response every time I eat lentils. Maybe diarrhea is the wrong word, maybe really, really watery stool is better. Either way, when I eat those foods it feels like I'm peeing out my ass. Anyone have a similar story with an "ah ha!" outcome? I'd love to be able to figure this out and enjoy dried beans/lentils with the rest of you!
Possibly related, but dried beans (especially kidney beans) can cause food poisoning if they aren't properly cooked beforehand since they contain a toxin. I interpret "properly cooked" to mean boiled, but I'm no food scientist.
Personally I never soak my black beans (Kenji tells me it's a waste of time). Instead I bring them to a boil for a bit, turn down the heat, and then let them simmer (with the lid on) for ~1.5 hr.
Just wanted to chime in to say you are not alone! I don't find canned beans repulsive, but I do find them to be significantly inferior to dry beans in terms of taste and texture. I think properly cooked dry beans have a fuller, more complex flavor and a slightly more toothsome texture, which I prefer. I haven't bought canned beans in years, despite the extra effort needed to prepare the dry ones.
I will also be growing my own beans this year, and I am extremely excited to see how they are when home-grown.
Are you not rinsing your canned beans before you use them? Because the only time I have ever noticed a metallic taste or sulphurous smell was on occasions when I didn't rinse them thoroughly enough before using them. But properly rinsed I've never noticed any off tastes or smells, since it's the liquid that carries those, not the beans themselves.
Almost certainly, except in the rare occasion in which the recipe asks not to do that (typically when it uses the aquafaba for thickening).
It could be that you're more sensitive to a particular compound that gives off that metallic taste then. Because I've never noticed any metallic taste with properly rinsed canned beans. And the majority of other home cooks I know use canned beans in their recipes too, and I have never heard any of them complain about a metallic taste to them either.
p.s. I'm that way with sulphurous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and brussel sprouts. The smell of those once cooked (especially if they were boiled) is incredibly pungent and revolting to me. I have managed to find various ways to enjoy broccoli and brussel sprouts over the years, but I still can't stand cauliflower since the smell of it completely overwhelms every dish its included in for me, no matter how it's been cooked, or what sauce it's smothered in.
Shot in the dark, but have you tried organic canned beans? I find other non-organic foods can taste slightly metallic at times, especially canned and preserved foods, so I try to avoid them. Organic canned beans are still cheap, and a lot of them aren't lined with BPA (that said, they will likely be lined with some other as yet understudied polymer!).
I’ve never seen organic beans in a can before. But then again I usually ignore organic options because of the extra price they tend to ask for.
For ordinary goods the price difference is much more noticeable. Cans are the cheapest ratio I can get for organic foods relative to non-organic, followed by seasonal local grower veges. Worth a try if the price is not hideous!
Not the same thing but in Brazil we have canned feijoada and it's awesome!
It's going to be my lunch today!
I’ve never tasted a metallic taste from canned beans. They tend to be mushier than rehydrated dried beans, but other than that I don’t really notice anything different.
You might be hyper sensitive to some compound in there that tastes like metal. I don’t think it’s a typical experience, anyhow.
Depends how the beans are being served. In a salad or something, canned is no good. But cooked in a sauce or as frijoles or something? Makes no difference to me in terms of flavour and make a huge difference in terms of ease of preparation. I make hummus using tinned chickpeas and while it's not quite as good as with fresh, it's still fine.
Thinking about it the beans I buy tend to come in tetrapaks rather than cans, although I do have some cans around too. I usually buy organic because they're not much more expensive (and sometimes the only option!)
fwiw I don't get on well with pressure cookers at all. Food cooked in them tends to taste very bland to me, even if the cooking liquid is the same as I'd use in slower cooking. I also have an irrational, and only slight, fear of the damned things exploding, which I know isn't really a risk.
I think I have seen one of those before but I never thought to buy one. I wonder how long they last compared to the ones in metal cans? It might be worth trying if they don’t have that flavor I am trying to avoid.
Edit: Them, meaning beans stored in the paper and plastic boxes.
The boxes I have in my cupboard all seem to have a few years on their best before dates, but to be honest I've never really checked - so it's possible that I've used some that are months or even years out of date and I still seem to be alive.. :)
I don't know man, the fact that nobody here seems to be able to taste the difference between canned and dry beans but me just makes me think all of you have been replaced by ChatGPT. 😜
The history of canned food goes back to merchant navies and adventurous sea voyages in the yonder times when they had to survive many days across long distances. So you have to look at canned food from survival perspective, not the taste or carnal fulfillment perspectives! In any case, I think the flavored varieties of canned beans (like baked, etc.) are the ones which are more popular than unflavored, especially with brands like Heinz I think.
For me canned goods is very brand dependent in a way most other goods are not.
Goya low-salt black beans are pretty great. My local store brand not so much. Dried beans are better still, but the time savings of canned is too good to ignore.
Most canned baby corn I can find in traditional US grocers is terrible. Have better luck in asian grocers, but still when we find a brand that doesn't suck we stock up.
I love canned beans! When I was in college I hated most canned whole beans. Black, kidney, garbanzo... you name it I thought it was a waste of space. But I loved refried beans and baked beans!!!! The real discovery though was these spicy black beans from Whole Foods. They were delicious, but very expensive (like 4 dollars a can). They weren't really in budget so I decided to buy plain black beans from Costco and try to spice them up. Low and behold, it wasn't that I didn't like canned beans, I just don't like unseasoned beans. Fast forward to today and canned beans feature pretty heavily in my diet. I'd say one out of every 4 meals includes canned beans. Spice is the key!!!
Like most of the folks in this thread, I also don't taste anything metallic while consuming them. May be a canning process unique to your country or a sensitivity. Out of curiosity, have you compared canned beans from different countries?
Weighing in on the dried vs canned argument. My partner and I bought a 25 pound bag of dried black beans right before the start of the pandemic. We would soak them overnight and then cook with them the following day. We followed every trick we could find online and consulted with friends who were used to this method. I have never in my life had so much diarrhea. We made a black bean soup one evening and like clock work myself, my partner, and our housemate at that time would get up and head to the bathroom about every 15 minutes, all night. It was a parade to the one shared toilet. I'm sure we were doing something wrong as people eat dried beans happily every day and folks have lived on them for millenia, but to this day I've never had dried beans that didn't make me void my bowels.
Edit: Obligatory human bean link
That's a really odd story. I wonder if the soaking process introduced bacteria into the beans somehow?
The whole pre-soaking thing is honestly not super important to do unless you are cooking them on a stovetop and don't want the skins to break. But you usually do want them to break up a little because that will thicken up whatever you put them in into a nice "gravy".
Unless you're one of those people who are into beans cooked "al dente" in which case you're clearly just a monster in disguise. 😉
I'm a firm believer that beans should be cooked either in a pressure cooker or in a slow cooker. Not only is it much easier, it's actually more energy efficient.
I firmly believe there is a reason premium beer comes in glass bottles. Beer just tastes better from bottle.
I am probably just used to the way canned beans taste. Plus they are easier. I tried once using dried beans, and never really figured that out.
I honestly don't think I've ever cooked a dried bean? My family always did canned for convenience, and with my SO having food allergies, dried beans are much more likely to be cross contaminated and are almost never labeled as gluten free, so it's just not worth the additional effort and stress to find ones that work for her.
In conclusion, maybe dried beans would be a flavor revolution for me, but I love beans even from cans so I kinda doubt it.
Soaking overnight is a huge time investment and I don't have a pressure cooker. And the canned beans we get around here seem to be pretty good! Cooking from dried beans is just not worth the trouble. That said, I have no idea if the raw canned beans would taste bad. Normally I wash them and incorporate them into some sort of dish that modifies the flavor of the beans, like chili or feijoada or whatever.
I used dry beans once, soaked them overnight, and then got pretty bad food poisoning after eating them. I’m sure I did it wrong somehow but I find canned beans perfectly fine and haven’t been tempted to try dry again.