Cooking Dry Beans

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Why Cook Your Own

  • Easy – Although it does require planning, the process is easy.
  • Reduce or eliminate – sodium, sugar and added fats.
  • Texture, Nutrients – Home cooked beans cook up softer than canned beans. Nutrition wise, they are about the same.
  • Variety – There is more variety to choose from when purchasing dried beans vs purchasing beans in a can. Most grocery stores carry a variety of dried beans however International grocery stores carry a wider variety than regular grocery stores.
  • Cost – Is about 1/3 the price of canned beans.

Indigestion and Gas

For people with indigestion and gas sensitivity.

  • It’s important to soak beans and discard the soaking water.
  • The fastest way to cook beans is with a pressure cooker, however when beans are cooked slowly they are easier to digest therefor cooking beans on a stove top and crockpot is ideal.
  • Under cooked beans are hard to digest and cause indigestion/gas.
  • Add beans to your diet gradually. Start with a quarter of a cup, and increase portion size gradually over several weeks.
  • Be aware of food combining. Some people don’t do well when eating beans and meat at the same meal. Beans and meat require different enzymes for digestion thus the indigestion/gas.
  • For some people, combining a bean meal with rich desserts can be problematic.

Beans are a powerhouse of nutrition and fiber and should be included in all diets however, for some people it can be problematic. Not all beans are equal as some beans are harder to digest than others and unfortunately with an unpleasant experience all beans are avoided. If sensitive, consider starting with lentils and split peas as they are easier to digest.

Instructions and Tips to Cook

Ratio: ¾ cup dried beans will make about 2 cups cooked/about 1 can

Stove Top

  1. Always clean and sort through dried beans and discard beans that are damaged or look like they might have gone bad. Though rare, look for little stones and tiny mud balls.
  2. After cleaning, wash beans and soak them overnight. (This step can be skipped when cooking beans in a crockpot). Soaking beans ensures all the beans cook at the same rate. To every cup of dry beans add 3 cups of water. Soak beans at room temperature. Depending on the beans they will double or triple in size, so put them in a large container that allows room for them to expand.
  3. When you are ready to cook, discard soaking water and add fresh water keeping the water ratio similar.  If desired add a bay leaf or two.
  4. NEVER add salt, tomatoes or vinegar until after the beans are soft otherwise they will stay hard.
  5. Ensure that you are using a large pot because when the beans start to boil, they tend to foam up and will boil over. It is desirable to skim off this frothy foam and discard it. After soaking, allow about 1½ hours to 2 hours for beans to cook on a stove top. Older beans may take longer and there is no way to know how old they are. To check if beans are done, remove a few and press them down with a fork. They should mash easily. Another way would be to do a taste test. Beans should be soft with no resistance.
  6. Cooked beans will keep well for several days in the fridge otherwise measure into appropriate recipe size or meal size containers. Top up with cooking water and put them in the freezer for later use. When freezing, allow head space for expansion. If you have extra cooking water left over it can be saved and used in soups. 

Crockpot

Over the years I have found cooking beans in a crockpot to be the simplest and most convenient method. This method does not require pre-soaking.

  1. Clean, sort and wash beans then use a ratio of 1 cup beans to 3 cups water. DO NOT add salt until beans are soft otherwise they will stay hard.
  2. If desired add a bay leaf or two. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours (high for 8-10 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. To check if beans are done, remove a few and press them down with a fork. They should mash easily. Another way would be to do a taste test. Beans should be soft with no resistance. When beans are done remove the bay leaves.
  4. Cooked beans will keep well for several days in the fridge otherwise measure into appropriate recipe size or meal size containers. Top up with cooking water and put them in the freezer for later use. When freezing, allow head space for expansion. If you have extra cooking water left over it can be saved and used in soups.