how to cook dried beans
It is the simple, fresh, healthy ingredients that get me excited to eat. I was lucky enough to be born into a family with an Italian grandmother who taught her daughter (my mother) well. My mom cooked me meals growing up (and still does today) just like they do in Italy, with flavorful, fresh ingredients. A good meal consisted not of canned, packaged foods, but of those in season and made from scratch. A staple in a lot of the meals I eat is beans. Cannellini, black, and garbanzo are some of my favorites. I throw them in soups, salads, and pastas. They add antioxidants, fiber, B vitamins, protein, potassium, and iron. As a vegetarian or vegan, this really is a great protein source!
Cooking dried beans is something we do on the regular and I think it is a simple recipe worth sharing. The difference in taste between canned beans and cooked dried beans is just enormous. The flavor and texture cannot be beat. Plus, an added bonus is that buying dried beans in the bulk section will save you money!
A low and steady heat is ideal for cooking beans. It'll ensure they turn out not too crunchy and not too mushy. So, I highly recommend a slow cooker for the job. We use a 7 quart slow cooker and eat them within a week (I have a very hungry husband). We cook about 2 pounds at a time, which comes out to be about 10 cups of cooked beans or the equivalent of 6 cans. If there are extra beans they can easily be frozen. Just transfer them to freezer safe ziplock bags with a little bit of the liquid they were cooked in (this is so the beans don't shrivel up).
On a side note: I do not recommend cooking different types of beans together. We tried that and some turned out mushy while others were not cooked long enough. Each type of bean needs a little more or less time so stick with one variety at a time.
- Any amount of dried beans of your choosing
- A pinch of salt
- Flavoring of your choosing*
*I prefer to not flavor the beans since I use them for such a variety of meals but it is a great way to add some oomph to your dish! This could be garlic, onions, celery, or rosemary. The flavors will gently infuse the beans.
- Optional for less cooking time: Soak the beans overnight or for at least 8 or 9 hours in container of your choosing
- Pour out the water
- Transfer beans to the slow cooker*
- Pour enough water over the top to cover beans by about 2 inches
- Add flavoring if desired
- Add a pinch of salt and stir in
- Cook on low for about 7 hours. What we do and suggest those who are new to the bean cooking process do is leave them for about 6 hours and then check on them every thirty minutes. As mentioned previously, each type of bean requires a specific amount of time. The only way to find out what will be right for your variety and slow cooker is to keep checking (kind of like if you were baking something for the first time). You will know when they are done when they aren't too crunchy, but have a nice bite to them.
- Cool and either put in the fridge if they will be eaten within a week or freeze.
*Kidney beans need an extra step here. They can be toxic if under cooked. The beans must boil for 10 minutes to destroy the toxin that lives on their skin. Do this before transferring them to the slow cooker.
Beans can also be cooked on the stove top if you do not have a slow cooker. Here is a great recipe to make that happen from thekitchn.com