Dry Bean Cooking Guide
Dry beans are cheap, nutritious, and tasty. Cooking them does take some planning ahead. Consult this guide to know how to cook all kinds of dry beans.
Overnight soak: Beans need to soak in lots of water for at least 8 hours BEFORE you can cook them. You can soak them up to 24 hours, and it is usually easiest to put them in water the day before you want to use them. Make sure there is plenty of water covering the beans by 5 or 6 inches – they will absorb a lot of water.
Drain and rinse: Drain the soaked beans from the soaking water and quickly rinse them. Do not reuse the soaking water.
Cooking the beans:
STOVETOP METHOD – Place the soaked beans in a large pot and add water to cover by 4-5 inches. If you want, you can add half an onion and pieces of carrot or celery for extra flavor, but you don’t need to. Bring the beans and water to a boil. There will be a lot of foam on the top of the water – skim it off with a spoon and throw it away. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, usually 1.5 to 2.5 hours. The amount of time will depend on the type of beans you used and how long you soaked them.
SLOW COOKER METHOD – Place the soaked beans in a slow cooked and add water to cover by 4-5 inches. If you want, you can add half an onion and pieces of carrot or celery for extra flavor, but you don’t need to. Cook on low until beans are tender, about 5-7 hours. The amount of time will depend on the type of beans you used and how long you soaked them. You can also cook beans from dry (without soaking first) in a slow cooker, but they will take longer to cook and may cause more bean-related gas problems than soaked beans.
When are they done? The longer you cook beans, the softer they get. How soft you want them will depend on how you plan to use them. If you’re putting them into a soup where they will slow-cook again, you might want them less tender. If you’re going into a salad, they should be very tender. If you plan to puree or mash them, you may want to cook them a very long time, until they are beginning to burst.
Salt and storage: Once the beans are cooked to the texture you want, turn off the heat. Add a bit of salt to the cooking water. Taste it (be careful, it’s hot) – it should be flavorful, but not taste too salty. Less salt is better than too much, since you can always add more, but you can’t take any out.
At this point, your cooked beans in liquid can be treated just like canned beans from the store and used in recipes that call for canned beans. You can use them right away, or store them in the refrigerator, submerged in cooking liquid, for up to 1 week.
Cooking liquid: The liquid that the beans cooked in isn’t trash. You can use it in soups, or anywhere else where you might otherwise you chicken broth or when you want to add some extra flavor. For example, you can cook rice in bean liquid for a flavorful side dish.