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Ask the Readers | How do you cook dried beans?

A bean mosaic on a white piece of paper. This is the only way we use beans!

I need some assistance with answering a Q&A submission I received earlier this week. I’d normally answer this on Monday, but this one is beyond my areas of expertise.

Here’s the question from Kelly.

My husband has a heart condition and high blood pressure so I closely monitor the salt content in all of our food. I love beans and they are very heart healthy, however the canned stuff is very expensive and very high in salt. I have tried my hand and cooking them myself and have failed miserably! LOL Purchasing beans by the bag is so much less expensive and I can monitor just how much salt goes into them. Any advise and/or help on how to cook them from a raw form so they dont turn out like mush?

The trouble is, I don’t really ever cook dried beans. I know they are one of the cheapest foods on the planet and that they are very nutritious, but I have a slight problem. My husband, dear though he is, cannot abide beans. He’s fine with green beans, but not the legume sort of beans.

I actually like beans quite a bit and so does Lisey, but since there are only two of us who eat them, I usually just pop open a can. Canned beans are a lot more expensive than dried beans, but they’re still a really cheap food, and this is one place I don’t mind paying for a little convenience.

I’m guessing a lot of my readers are well-practiced at cooking dried beans, though! So, if you’ve got a method that works well, I’m sure Kelly would be grateful if you’d leave a comment explaining what you do.

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Wednesday 12th of January 2011

I thought of suggesting the pressure cooker method like Marcia above. It is really easy. If you don't have one, I strongly recommend getting one. It not only saves time, but conserves energy/electricity.

The only trick I have is to soak the beans overnight. Then pressure cook them for 5/6/9/13 min as mentioned above by Marcia.

I also add a pinch of baking soda to the soaked beans just as I place them in the cooker. This ensures that I always have evenly cooked beans.

I have also cooked these beans, and drained the cooked liquid and kept them in fridge for a week. I pull out only as much as I need for meals from the fridge all through the week. This ensures that I consume beans all through the week incorporated in different meals and at the same time it almost seems like I am using home-made-canned beans that is of course healthier than store-bought.


Wednesday 29th of July 2009

I used to cook my beans in the crockpot all the time. Sometimes they'd be a bit too soft.

Then I bought a pressure cooker. I cook all my beans this way. You don't have to soak them either. But I generally do.

I rinse the beans, put them in a bowl with the right amount of water. Soak. When ready for dinner. Drain and rinse. Cover with water again (basically almost the same amt of water), cook in a pressure cooker for the specified amount of time.

Example: black beans, 5 min. Pinto beans, 6 min. Kidney beans, 9 min. Chickpeas, 13 min.

You need to add about 10-15 min to that time for the heating up and the cooling down of the beans. Times above are for active cooking time at pressure.


Monday 27th of July 2009

I cook dried beans all the time. What I do is spill all my beans out onto the counter and pick through them to remove stones and/or broken beans. Then I dump them in a pot and fill the pot with water. I bring it to a boil, and once it's boiling, it boils for 3 minutes. Then I let it simmer until they're almost cooked (try a few beans, since they don't always cook evenly). During the cooking, I skim off any foam and any beans that come up to the top of the pot (these few beans are usually the couple of bad ones that I didn't catch during sorting). Then you add salt and simmer a little bit longer until they're done to taste.

At that point, I let them cool in the pot, then use a slotted spoon to measure out two cup portions (roughly the same as a can of beans provides), transfer to a freezer-proof container and cover with the cooking liquid. Seal the container and freeze. The night before I need the beans, I toss a container in the fridge to thaw.

You can do this in the crock pot too, if you need them to cook while you're not home.

I like this method though, because it means I don't have to cook beans all the time, and usually have 2-6 containers in the fridge of different types of beans.

Alternately, if she has a pressure cooker, the manual will have instructions for how to cook them.


Saturday 25th of July 2009

Wash beans, remove any damaged ones. Place in pot, cover with water. Let soak over night. Flavor with one large onion and a good splash of Olive Oil. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat to medium low, cook until soft. (Soaking speeds the cooking process)


Saturday 25th of July 2009

I do my beans in the crock pot for the convience. I cook a large batch then put in individual qt. size freezer bags in 1 1/2 c. portions. Then I can pull them out of the freezer and use like canned beans.

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