Preparing Dried Beans for Eating

Dried beans cooked at home are a cheap and healthy way to stretch your dinner dollar and fill you up. While I do use canned beans occasionally, dried beans are my go-to because of their superior flavor, texture, and adaptability.

Two things—the age of your beans and knowing when to salt them—are crucial for making a tasty pot of beans from scratch on the stovetop. The decision for what to do next lies with you.

Said Conklin, Alison

This easy method on the stovetop works for beans of all sizes, so I use it frequently.

  • Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans.
  • Navy beans
  • Soup made with black-eyed peas
  • And so, black beans
  • It's pinto time!
  • Beans from the Great North
  • Beans cannellini

The method does not work with lentils or split peas, which are not beans but are in the legume family. In contrast to the previously mentioned beans, lentils do not need to be precooked before being cooked.

It's probably not the recipe or your cooking technique if you've ever spent hours on end cooking beans and they're still too firm to enjoy. Unfortunately, if you've already cooked these beans and reached this point, your best bet is tossing them.

It's recommended that dry beans be consumed within two years of harvest. It isn't always simple to determine when a crop was harvested, but you can usually find a best-before date on the bag of dry beans you buy at the store. It's best to inspect it before you buy it, but if you can't find the packaging, inspect it before you cook with it.

Avoid eating stale beans by saving them for pie weights if you can.

Check the best-before date and have a rough idea of when you'll be cooking the beans before heading to the store. Another option is to visit a farmers market and inquire about harvest times from the vendors there.

The great thing about beans is that they are a cheap and low-maintenance source of essential nutrients. It's not necessary to give them too much thought.

Author: Alison Conklin

The eternal soaking debate will continue on the Internet. There is much debate over whether one should soak for an entire night, a short amount of time, or not at all.

One of the main advantages of soaking beans the night before using them is that it shortens the amount of time they need to be cooked. Consider your options for the day in light of your schedule and free time. If that's what you're after, then dive in.

I tried both garbanzo beans and Great Northern beans. It took only 30 minutes longer for the unsoaked beans to reach optimal tenderness compared to the soaked beans, and I couldn't tell any difference in the bean's final texture between the two preparation methods.

Soaking or not soaking is a matter of preference, like so many other aspects of home cooking. Choosing one method over another will not poison your beans, dinner, or digestive tract.

Get ready to soak (or not) Learn the ins and outs of each approach down below:

Conklin, Alison

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this method is for you:

  • Soaking cuts down on preparation time.
  • Produce a bean that is fuller and more uniformly cooked
  • Lessens the stomach upset caused by the beans.

Step one: prepare a bowl for the beans. Put water on top of it Put a lid on the bowl or wrap it in plastic wrap. Set out on the counter overnight. Just dump, rinse, cook, and devour.

Why you should use this approach:

  • Similar to overnight soaking, this technique shortens the cooking time, which is great for braising beans like those found in this Cowboy Beans recipe.

Step One: Place Beans in Cooking Vessel Soak up the water Obtain a rolling boil with them Cover Turn off the stove and let the beans sit in the warm water for anywhere from an hour to overnight. Prepare ingredients and move forward with the recipe.

You should use this approach because:

  • You're not into soaking because it requires forethought.
  • I assume you're looking for a can of creamy beans. Beans can lose some of their creaminess after being soaked because the starch they release into the soaking water is washed away.
  • Strong hues appeal to you. Black beans should be black and red beans should be red. More of the bean's natural color is retained after being cooked without soaking.

Step One: Place Beans in Cooking Vessel Put water on top of it Cook Eat

A. Conklin, Alison

There is no way to give exact times for cooking beans because it depends on the age of the beans and whether or not they have been soaked, but in general:

  • Cooking time for small beans (including black beans, black eyed peas, and navy beans) is 45 to 90 minutes.
  • Time: 60-120 minutes for medium beans (Great Northern, kidney, pinto, garbanzo).
  • The time to cook large beans (such as large Lima, Cannellini, and butter beans) is between 80 and 180 minutes.

Need super quick beans Do it in a pressure cooker for maximum efficiency. Pressure Cooker Beans: A Quick and Easy Meal that Never Needs Soaking

The Conklins, Alison

Just like the soaking debate, this one about salt will go on forever and be hotly contested.

My experiments showed that salting the beans at the start of the cooking time produced a firm bean that required additional cooking time. However, by waiting to salt the beans until the middle of the cooking process, a creamy consistency was achieved with proper seasoning. In contrast, the latter is superior.

In a nutshell, the beans are ready for salting when they are fork-tender but still retain a slight crunch when you bite into them. This could happen anywhere between the halfway and three-quarters mark of the cooking time.

Be prepared for a lengthy process if you want to make sweet beans, like Boston Baked Beans. Sugar, like salt, hinders the beans' ability to soften. It may take up to five hours or more, but they will cook in the end.

It's Alison Conklin.

Now that we've covered the bare essentials, here's the rundown on how to make a simple pot of beans:

  1. Group the beans by size Remove any blemished or stoned beans before eating. Simply run them under some water to clean them.
  2. You can choose to soak if you want to, but it's not necessary.
  3. Put beans in a pot and cover with water by three inches. Never put salt in it.
  4. Get it boiling, then turn it down to a low simmer. Intense boiling will cause the beans to split and become mushy, so be careful. Ideally, beans should be cooked in a low and steady simmer.
  5. When the beans are cooked through but still have a bit of bite, salt them. Adding salt before the beans are fully cooked slows down their softening process. If you wait too long to add it, the beans won't absorb all of the flavor.
  6. Beans need to be checked for doneness about once every 15 minutes in the final stages of cooking.
By Alison Conklin

Some additional comments:

  • When the beans are soft and tender but not creamy, they are ready to be removed from the heat and used in dishes like soups and salads. Since you want them to keep their shape in the salad while they finish cooking in the soup, do this.
  • Cooking beans until soft and tender while still intact is ideal for eating on their own or using in a dip. Beans can be cooked to the desired consistency by covering them, taking them off the heat, and allowing the residual heat to finish the job, as recommended by Cook's Illustrated.
  • My favorite bean broth is the result of letting the cooking water reduce while stirring occasionally to help release the starches.
Conklin, Alison

At the outset of preparation:

  • Throw in a bay leaf, some garlic (two or three cloves), and some parsley stems (tied together so they're easy to pull out), and bring to a simmer. Using a peeler, carefully peel and quarter a yellow onion. Keep the cut end of the stem and add it, along with half of the stem, to the cooking liquid.
  • Place the peppercorns, chili peppers, cumin seeds, garlic cloves, and coriander seeds in a cheesecloth square. Wrap it up and throw it in a pot of beans, whether they be black beans, pinto beans, or black-eyed peas.
  • Toss in the chopped onion, cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika at the start of the cooking process.
  • Toss in some thyme, parsley stems, onions, garlic, and carrots.

After draining the cooked beans:

  • The addition of a splash of red wine vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice has improved every pot of beans I've ever made.
  • My go-to method for preparing white beans in an Italian style is to toss them in a pan with some olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and minced fresh parsley.
  • Beans with a South of the Border twist: lime juice, chopped chilies, fresh minced red onions, and chopped cilantro.
It's Alison Conklin.

Beans can be stored for four days in the refrigerator after cooking and months in the freezer. Depending on how you plan on using the beans later, you can either leave them in the cooking liquid or drain them before storing.

I prefer the starchy, creamy liquid if I plan on serving the beans as a side dish on their own or in a soup. If I plan on using them in a salad or in a mashed filling for my kid's black bean quesadillas, I will likely drain them.

Check out Emma's post on freezing beans and broth for some helpful advice on making the most of your kitchen space and getting a head start on meal preparation.

Never mind about preserving the bean in their liquid. Bean cooking liquid, depending on the seasonings used, can be frozen and used to thicken later soups or chilis.

This liquid can be reduced to make Aquafaba (bean water). When the liquid thickens to the consistency of egg whites, it's done. Then swap it out for eggs in any dish you like. The vegan community has been doing this for quite some time.

  • 1 pound foods made from dried beans, like chickpeas , Cannellini, Navy, Black, or Great Northern Beans

  • Water

  • 4 teaspoons sea salt, kosher, divided

  1. Remove and throw away any undesirable debris, such as stones or beans that have become wrinkled or broken.

  2. Spread the beans out in a bowl. Put in two to three inches of water to cover. Keep covered on the counter until the next day, when you can get to cooking. Stop the leak and let the water drain Wash the beans.

    See the preceding section for a detailed explanation of the alternatives to soaking your beans.

    Ms. Alison Conklin
  3. Add the beans (soaked or unsoaked) and water to a large pot over medium-high heat, making sure the water is at least three inches above the beans.

    Get the beans boiling, then turn them down to a low simmer. Cook with the lid off if you can.

    Conklin, Alison Professor Alison Conklin
  4. Check a bean after 40 minutes for doneness. Add 4 teaspoons of salt if it's firm but tender. Gently stir the contents of the pot.

    The beans need another 20-50 minutes of cooking time to become creamy while still holding their shape.

    Keep in mind that the total cooking time will change depending on the bean variety, its age, and whether or not it was soaked. For complete cooking times, consult the notes above.

    Professor Alison Conklin Asserting the Role of Alison Conklin
  5. The beans should be drained using a fine mesh sieve and placed in a serving bowl if being served right away. Season to taste (for some ideas, see the linked article) and serve.

    Allow the beans to cool completely in their liquid before storing them in the fridge for up to 4 days or the freezer for up to 3 months.

    By Alison Conklin
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