What are your favorite beans? Fava, black, pinto, white, green? Whichever you prefer, beans are staples for vegan meals since they provide iron, protein and fiber. You can cook them into almost any cuisine, from Italian and American to Mexican and Indian. The more you know about how to cook with and use beans, the more enjoyable your plant-based eating experience will be. Here are some easy bean hacks:

1. Freeze Fava Beans to Make Peeling Easier

Fava beans actually have a second skin that can be a pain to peel. Tear the pod open, pull the beans out, then put them on a tray. Freeze them for about 30 minutes. After that time passes, take them out the the freezer and let them thaw for ten minutes. Then, you can easily slip the beans right out of the skins, no struggle required!

2. Feed Your Chip Addiction With a Healthier Alternative

It’s so tempting to buy a bag of chips only to finish off the entire bag (been there, done that), but it’s not a waistline-friendly option. Still, that crispy, salty crunch is just so satisfying! What to do? For a healthier alternative, try using beans to make chips. Dip green beans in a batter of your choice, or simply use oil and salt. Spread them out on a baking sheet and cook for about 15-20 minutes (or until the crisps are golden brown).

3. Soak Dry Beans Overnight for Even Cooking

If you are buying dry beans rather than canned beans, soaking is a must-do if you want evenly-cooked beans. You need to soak dry beans in water overnight to prepare them for cooking. According to American’s Test Kitchen, soaking overnight will give the most tender, fully and evenly cooked beans.

4. Do You Salt Your Beans? Brine First to Avoid a Mealy Texture

If you cook beans in salt, the center could become a mealy disaster. Too mushy of a taste, and the beans will not be appetizing. But cooking in salt helps to tenderize the beans. You don’t need mealy beans to get a tender, salty taste. Soak the beans overnight in salted water to slowly soften the skin. The inside of the bean will remain creamy and not mealy.

5. Use a Dutch Oven to Brine Expediently

Here’s a trick to make the brine process happen much faster if you don’t want to wait overnight. Combine salt, water and beans in a dutch oven and you bring it up to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover and let beans sit for one hour. Rinse them well and you can use them. For another idea, try these Corn and Black Bean Chips.

6. Soaking Not Yielding Tender, Cooked Beans?

After you’ve soaked your beans and after you cook them, there’s a chance they wont turn out to be the warm, tender yet in-tact beans you desire. If this is the case, put baking soda in your water and soak the beans in the mixture.

Image source: Heirloom Beans: A Taste of Yesterday, Today