Mar 23, 2013
How to Cook Dried Beans
I know it may seem simple to some, but you’d be surprised at how many people tell me they don’t know how to cook dried beans. Canned beans are fine in a pinch but cooking your own is so much cheaper. For example, I purchased a 2 pound bag of pintos for $2.00. One 15 oz. can of pintos (the organic brand that I use) is about $2.50. My 2-pound bag of dried beans will cook up approximately 12 cans of 15 oz. cooked beans! Um… that’s a no-brainer. Dry beans will also keep indefinitely if stored in an airtight container in a cool or room temperature location. When making a big pot of beans, I store what I’m not immediately using in ziplock bags in the freezer for later use.
One thing that I always, always add to my cooking beans is a strip of kombu. Kombu is a sea vegetable that does magical things with all types of beans; speeding cooking time, softening the beans, increasing digestibility and thickening the broth. It is also a rich source of both iodine and iron. A four-to-six-inch long strip of kombu will be sufficient for a large pot of beans. It will just fall apart in the bean water so don’t worry about having to chop it up before adding it. Find kombu in health food stores, online and sometimes in your grocer’s Asian food aisle.
Back to the beans. Here is the step-by-step:
SOAK your beans! This is a very important step that some people omit. Just soak them in the same pot you will be cooking them in. I usually soak mine for at least 10 hours. After soaking, rinse well and add fresh water, covering the beans with about 2 inches of water on top.
|After soaking and before cooking. I love all the color variations in pinto beans!|
Add a strip of kombu and place on the stove on medium heat. When the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to low, COVER and simmer for as long as you can. I made these pintos yesterday and they cooked for about 9 hours. They may not have had to cook that long. Different beans require different cooking times. But I find that the longer they cook, the easier they digest. Of course, you don’t want them falling apart. These pintos held their shape just fine and were buttery soft after all that cooking. If you’re cooking lentils, you won’t need a long cooking time. I usually don’t soak my lentils either. They cook pretty quickly.