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.

The beans will grow as they cook, taking on more water. So check on them every so often and add water as needed to keep them covered.
Here are the plump, soft beans ready for consumption! Notice the bits of kombu in there? Healthy deliciousness! There’s no great effort or skill involved. Just soak, add kombu and cook. And enjoy all the wonderful health benefits that beans have to offer.
Healthy trails,

4 responses to “How to Cook Dried Beans”

  1. e says:

    Do you refrigerate the beans while they are soaking overnight? Why or why not? Do you usually use any seasoning besides the kombu when cooking the beans? Thanks!

  2. Helyn says:

    Good questions! No, I don't refrigerate. Ideally you want the beans to release their phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors (which make digestion harder) and this would not occur or would be super slow in the refrigerator. Some beans release a TON of this stuff–garbanzos is one. You'll see lots of foamy stuff on the top of the water when you soak them. All that foamy stuff, when they're not soaked turns into– guess what? GAS in your digestive tract.

    As far as seasoning, I don't add any but feel free to add some if you want. It won't affect the outcome. I usually make a ton of beans at one time and I use them in different ways, so I like to add the seasoning afterwards.

  3. Lisa says:

    I just use a pressure cooker to cook them.

  4. Helyn says:

    I've recently been doing the same, Lisa! Love that InstantPot! 🙂

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