Using dry beans is a great way to stretch your food budget, and get loads of nutrition. They are inexpensive, have a long shelf life, and they are nutrient dense. If that’s not enough to convince you to add them to your diet, they’re delicious and easy to prepare, too! You might feel a bit intimidated if you’ve never cooked dry beans before. Trust me. It’s easier than you think. Food.unl.edu shares a two-step process for cooking dry beans:
Step One: Soaking Beans
Soaking beans allows the dried beans to absorb water, which begins to dissolve the starches that cause intestinal discomfort. While beans are soaking they are also doubling to tripling in their size. (Note: Lentils, split peas and blackeyed peas do not need to be soaked.)
- Pick through the beans, discarding any discolored or shriveled beans or any foreign matter.
- Rinse the beans well.
- Soak beans with one of these methods:
- Hot Soak. In a large pot, add 10 cups of water for each pound (2 cups) of dry beans. Heat to boiling; boil for 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and soak for up to 4 hours. Hot soaking is the preferred method since it reduces cooking time, helps dissolve some of the gas-causing substances in beans, and most consistently produces tender beans.
- Quick Soak. This is the fastest method. In a large pot, add 6 cups of water for each pound (2 cups) of dry beans. Heat to boiling; boil for 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and soak for at least 1 hour.
- Traditional Overnight Soak. This is the easiest method. Place dry beans in a large container; for each pound (2 cups) beans, add 10 cups of cold water. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain and rinse beans soaked by either method with fresh, cool water.
Step Two: Cooking Beans
Cooking the beans makes them edible and digestible. Use cooked beans in your favorite recipes or refrigerate beans in shallow containers if they are to be eaten later. Freeze any extra beans within 4 days after cooking them. Beans can be cooked by using the stovetop or a multicooker/pressure cooker.
- Place beans in a large pot; cover with fresh water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently until beans are tender but firm. Most beans will cook in 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the variety. Periodically, try a taste test or mash a bean against the side of the pot with a fork or spoon. Check occasionally if you need to add more water. Here are some approximate cooking times for beans:
- Black beans: 60-90 minutes
- Great Northern beans: 45-60 minutes
- Kidney beans: 90-120 minutes
- Navy beans: 90-120 minutes
- Pinto beans: 90-120 minutes
- When to add flavorings:
- Herbs and spices may be added any time, but it is recommended adding them towards the end to reduce flavor loss.
- Add acidic foods (lemon juice, vinegar, tomatoes, wine, etc.) after beans are cooked as these foods can prevent beans from becoming tender.
Multicooker/Pressure Cooker Instructions
Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to learn more about specific cooking recommendations for your model. Here are some general instructions:
- Place beans in pressure cooker; cover beans with about 4 cups of fresh water. Make sure there is about 2 inches of water above the beans.
- Seal pressure cooker and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Adjust cooking times as needed depending on the variety. Cooking longer will result in softer beans. Beans should be tender but not mushy. Here are some approximate pressure cooking times for beans:
- Black beans: 20-30 minutes
- Kidney beans: 20-30 minutes
- Navy beans: 25-35 minutes
- Pinto beans: 15-20 minutes
- Allow 20 minutes for natural pressure release after cooking. If beans are not quite tender, cook them again on high pressure for 10 minutes and then quick release the pressure.
- Drain immediately.
Set some time aside and cook up a large batch of dry beans to use throughout the week. Start off with Black Bean Tacos.
Make a double batch of the bean and corn mixture. Use it for Black Bean Tacos one night, roll it up in a burrito another night, or serve it on top of brown rice. We call that the cook once, eat twice method. Check here for more recipes using dry beans. Enjoy!