Cooking Bean Basics

Bean Basics

Dry beans expand to about 2 ½ times their original size when soaked.
A cup of dry beans yields 3 cups cooked.
A pound of dry beans yields 5 to 6 cups, cooked.
A pound of dry beans makes about 9 servings of baked beans or 12 servings of bean soup.
One (16 ounce) can of beans equals 2 cups of cooked beans.


Pre-soak your beans first! If you fail to soak the beans first, some of your cooking time (and energy expense) is wasted while the beans rehydrate. It is a fact that before your beans can really start cooking, they must rehydrate which is the purpose of soaking. Find our handy guide to soaking here.
Pour off the soak water and rinse the beans before cooking with them. It will cause less problems in your digestive tract. Many of the indigestible, soluble sugars in beans (a partial cause of gas problems) are dissolved in the soak water. There are no significant amounts of valuable nutrients lost when you pour off the soak water.
Simmer beans slowly. Cooking too fast can break skins.
A tablespoon of oil prevents foaming.
Acid slows down cooking. Add tomatoes, vinegar, etc. last.
Can add ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon baking soda (no more) per pound of beans when cooking in hard water to shorten cooking time.
At high altitudes beans take longer to cook.


Dry beans can be stored for a relatively long period of time. They can be stored satisfactorily in the unopened plastic bag in which they are sold.
If the package has been opened, transfer beans to an air-tight glass or metal container and store in a cool, dry spot—preferably not the refrigerator.
Cook enough beans for more than one meal at a time. For storing a day or two, cover and refrigerate. For longer storage, freeze. You can use Ziploc bags to freeze cooked beans in recipe-sized packages. Bean leftovers and mashed beans keep very well in your freezer. You may want to add a little moisture or seasoning after thawing to restore flavor and consistency.