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Ham Bone & Beans

I brought home the bone from our Christmas ham, a Honeybaked Ham Co. ham. It's got remnants of ham on it, and it's still in the foil with the juices in the bottom. My aunt also gave me a jar of a bunch of different kinds of beans to use with the ham bone. She told me to put it in my crock pot with water 2 inches above the beans, but I didn't really get a chance to ask how long to cook them. And of course, the more I think about it, the more questions I have... so I turn to you, oh wise cooking community :)

How long should I cook this? I've never done dry beans before. Will a full day in the crock pot be enough, or should I start them tonight for dinner tomorrow night? Should I leave the ham bone in that whole time? Will water 2 inches above the beans really be enough? It seems like it would cook off. Is it a good idea to use the juices in the bottom of the foil from the ham? And finally, seasonings! What kinds of seasonings should I throw in the pot? I've got the basics in my pantry, and I'm thinking of running to the store later anyways so I could even get something if I don't have it.

Any advice? Thanks to you all in advance!


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 26th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
Soak the beans in cold water overnight, then rinse and put in the slow cooker with the ham. You can cook on high for 3-5 hours or low for 5-8 hours usually, the liquid won't cook away because the lid's on. I would season with salt, pepper, and bay leaf, and add some sauteed onion, carrot, and celery.

Edited at 2010-12-26 10:05 pm (UTC)
Dec. 26th, 2010 10:38 pm (UTC)
This is essentially how I make beans. Don't season the beans until they are done as the salt could make the bean skins tough.

Personally, I don't care for veggies in bean soup but ymmv. Also, you might be surprised at just how much salt beans will need.
Dec. 26th, 2010 11:39 pm (UTC)
Soaking the beans does help so that's good. I don't add as much seasoning with a ham bone as I do with beef or chicken bones to flavor, but outside of beans I have found that sweet potato is a good veggie with ham soup. I did it my first time 'just because' I had one but now I love the taste and texture together, even in a bean soup.
Dec. 27th, 2010 01:15 am (UTC)
Hmmmm, I do have sweet potato. I bet it would go great with the saltiness of the ham, too. Thanks for the idea!
Dec. 26th, 2010 11:44 pm (UTC)
I had some wonderful Ham and bean soup for dinner yesterday.

My dad's favorite recipe was to throw the ham bone (with meat) into a big pot with 1lb of dry navy beans, a couple of diced onions, some salt and pepper, and a lot of water then let cook for several hours.

I was visiting a friend yesterday and I convinced her to throw her ham bone into a pot with some dry black eyed peas and an onion. She also soaked a lb of great northern beans for another dish but ended up putting them in with the ham bone. She put the pot on the stove to simmer at 1 pm and it was done in time for dinner at 5. But that was stove top, crock pots take longer.

For crock pot cooking I think you should do the overnight soak. Make sure the beans are covered with water before you go to bed at night. They soak up a lot and there is no such thing as too much water at that point. Then cook on low all day.

The crock pot is very good at retaining water so don't put in much more than you want to have in the soup.

For flavor: use the ham drippings, I don't think it needs anything more than diced onion, salt, and pepper. There may be a lot of salt in the ham and the drippings so taste before you season.

Bay leaf, carrots, celery, and tomatoes won't ruin it. But ham and bean soup is a comfort food for me so I like it just the way my dad made it.
Dec. 27th, 2010 01:20 am (UTC)
Thanks for the tips. I don't really like onions, so I think I'll just dice up one and string it up in some cheesecloth to let it flavor the beans without ending up in the actual soup.

How do you usually eat it? I was thinking of having it in a bowl with a piece of bread, but if it's your favorite do you have any better ideas?
Dec. 27th, 2010 07:11 am (UTC)
The onion flavor is the important thing, so if you want to pull out the fiber after the flavor is released that should work fine. Although in my experience onions dissolve completely with long slow cooking, such as is needed for beans.

My friend has a real problem with onions (from a traumatic experience with undercooked onions as a child) so I have taken to using onion powder to get the flavor without the texture, when I cook for her. Onion powder should be added toward the end of cooking.

I tend not to eat bread or other starches with bean soup for two reasons: I like my bean soups really thick, so there isn't any broth for the bread to soak up; and my mom had a strong aversion to serving more than one starch at any meal, since beans are a starch the only thing needed to complete the meal is a green vegetable such as a salad. If you put a lot of carrots and celery in your soup then you have your vegetables and you don't need anything else. If you like your bean soup to have a clear broth that you need a spoon for (instead of a thick porridge you can eat with a fork) then a nice crusty bread is perfectly appropriate.

A good bean soup is a meal unto itself.
Diane Rowe
Dec. 27th, 2011 12:58 am (UTC)
I make a nice salad to go with the beans,its a good combo !
Dec. 27th, 2010 02:50 am (UTC)
Seconding the idea of soaking those beans overnight beforehand, in as much water as they need, and allowing for swelling.
Dec. 27th, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)
Do they really swell a whole lot?
Dec. 27th, 2010 02:57 am (UTC)
"It depends". Sometimes very little, but the one time I didn't allow much space I woke up to a lot of water and beans on the floor. Can't hurt to allow for it, I'd say.
Dec. 27th, 2010 02:59 am (UTC)
Good to know! I'll go ahead and use the 6-quart crock for my crock pot then. Thanks!
Dec. 27th, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC)
I'd recommend soaking them in a large mixing bowl overnight or if you intend to cook overnight, then soak them for at least 4 hours before you put them in the crock pot. Then dump out any soaking water remnants. Once they've soaked, they won't get any bigger in your crockpot. After you dump the remnants, dump the beans in the crock pot and add fresh water to cover by a couple of inches.
Dec. 27th, 2010 06:48 am (UTC)
Dry beans expand to about 2-1/2 times their original size when soaked.

My friend put the lb of Great Northern beans in a bowl with water 2 inches above the beans. Within an hour the water level was below the beans (or the beans were above the water level) either way I would have put in more water. The point is to rehydrate the beans.
Dec. 27th, 2010 02:17 pm (UTC)
About three times their original volume.
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