Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bean Series: How to rinse, soak, and cook dry beans

Special thanks to our guest blogger, Mrs. Mordecai! Be sure to check out her bio at the end of the article. Check out the entire bean series: Week 2, Week 3, Week 4.


Before you soak dry beans, pick them over to get out little rocks, dirt clumps, and anything else that shouldn't be there.

Put them in a strainer and rinse them well, until the water runs clear.


Soaking helps reduce the discomfort that some people feel after eating beans, and it also helps them cook faster.

Overnight soak: Put your beans in a bowl or pot, and cover them with twice as much water. Leave overnight, anywhere from 8 to 36 hours.

Quick soak: Toss your beans in a big pot of water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and cover. Let sit one hour (or more if you have the time), then drain and rinse.


Pour your soaked beans into a strainer and rinse well, until the water runs clear.

Stovetop: Put in a pot big enough to be no more than 2/3 full, then add your beans and twice as much water. I like to use a heavy pot, such as a Dutch oven, because it insulates so well that I can turn the heat on the stove down to almost nothing. It also helps keep the temperature even, so I don't have to check on them as often. If you see bubbles similar to soap bubbles, don't worry; it's normal. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for an hour or two, until your beans are done. The cooking time may vary wildly, depending on the length of your soak, the hardness of your water, and the age and size of your beans.

Slow cooker: Dump your soaked beans into your slow cooker and cover with water by several inches. Cook on high for about four hours, or on low for about eight. I have a four-quart slow cooker, and one pound of beans is a good fit. Again, the cooking time will vary depending on many factors, including the temperature you select. Cook kidney beans on high to avoid phytohaemagglutinin poisoning (not dangerous, but uncomfortable).

For information on cooking split peas and lentils, see here. Stay tuned next week for cost comparisons and conversion charts.

Mrs. Mordecai is a twenty-something homemaker and mother. She chronicles her homekeeping adventures at Be It Ever So Humble.


Ann@His Grace To Me said...

Great bean tutorial. I overnight soak several pounds of beans at a time, then drain and store in the freezer in freezer bags. Then I always have soaked beans ready to go when I want them. I have recently discovered using a pressure cooker to cook my beans- 20-30 minutes from start to finish-easy!

Much cheaper than always depending on canned beans.

Pistolmom said...

Oh my word! I love this site; so many great ideas. Thank you!


Kristine said...

A tip I learned a while back - if your beans are not getting soft despite cooking for a while, add a little baking soda. 1/4 to 1/2 tsp for a pound of beans is usually enough for me.

Jacqui said...

I've done beans like that since my mission, but it was always so hard for me to plan ahead of time to start them the night before or early the morning we were going to eat them. I've since discovered the joys of cooking my beans in a pressure cooker. They go from dry in my food storage bucket to table in 90 minutes or less, most of that time unsupervised in the pressure cooker. I'd love to share the technique with all your readers. email me at jacquilyathotmaildotcom

Jodi said...

So very glad I found this information... it's not always easy to find on the internet if you don't put in the right search string.

I have recently started adding a bit of cooking wine to the water I use to cook my beans because it adds a nice flavor to the finished product. Since the alcohol cooks out of the wine that is not a worry. Using the slow cooker to cook your beans is probably the easiest way I know to cook beans. <><