Let’s Get Soaking and Cooking

Beans need to be soaked! Lentils, split peas and mung beans do not need to be soaked. Beans should be soaked before using a slow cooker. Remember that beans are a dehydrated food and need to be rehydrated. The eye or helum of the bean is the avenue that water travels to enter the bean itself.

Soaking Methods

Overnight Soaking
Cover 4 times the amount of beans with cold water, let stand for at least 8 hours, covered. This is an ideal way to prepare beans during the hot summer months; they will be ready for cooking in the morning, before the heat of the day.

Always drain and rinse the beans. Make sure you discard the soaking water, you will loose. little if any nutrients. Intestinal distress is caused by the oligosaccarides (complex sugars that the body cannot break down and digest), which are released into the soaking water. Do not add baking soda to the soaking or cooking water, as this will only toughen the beans and increase their cooking time.

Quick Soak Method
Place beans in a large pot covered by 2 inches of water, bring to a boil for 2 minutes, remove from the heat, cover and let sit for one hour… or pour boiling water over the beans to cover by 2 inches, cover and let sit for one hour. Drain and rinse.

Cooking Methods

Stove-Top Method
After soaking by either method put drained and rinsed beans into a pot and cover with fresh cold water until the water is about 2 inches above the beans or use 3 cups of water to 1 cup of beans. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and let the beans cook gently until they become tender and have reached desired doneness; about 1 to 2 hours. If the water is getting low you can add more during the cooking process.

Keep in mind that the beans will cook further if you will be adding them to a recipe and in that case a little undercooking will be better than overcooking.

Optional: While the beans are cooking you can add whole peeled garlic cloves and bay leaf at this point but DO NOT ADD…salt, baking soda, vinegar, lemon, wine, tomatoes, ketchup, chili sauce, pineapple or any acid based seasonings or ingredients. These ingredients will toughen the beans and increase their cooking time about 35-40 minutes. Cooking with hard water will toughen the beans and increase their cooking time. Old beans will take much longer to cook than fresh dried beans. Microwaves are not suggested for cooking beans, only use for reheating.

Oven Method
Cooking the beans by this method will cook them as fast as on the stove top and you won’t need to babysit them as much. It’s perfect for a cold winter day…a good way to warm the kitchen.

Preheat the oven to 350 ° F. Add 2 cups of dried beans and 6 cups of water to a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil on the stove top. Once the water boils, cover and place in the oven. Cook the beans 1 to 3 hours depending on size and age. Older beans will take longer to cook no matter what cooking method you use. Check the beans every 45 minutes to see if they need more water and if they are tender.

Slow Cooker Method

You can cook any beans in a slow cooker but there are a few steps to follow first:

  1. Soak the dried beans in water for at least 5 hours (some recommend soaking beans for at least 12 hours)
  2. Discard the soaking water which will contain leached out toxins called Phytohemagglutinin
  3. Rinse the beans and cover them with fresh water
  4. Boil the beans (rapid boil) for at least ten minutes
  5. It is then safe to add the beans to the slow cooker and proceed with the recipe.  Make sure the beans are covered with three inches of water or other liquid above the beans.
  6. Cook on low overnight for 6 to 9 hours.

Pressure Cooker Method

You can pressure-cook dried or soaked beans, but unsoaked beans will take four times as long to cook as those that have been soaked. Unsoaked beans will require more liquid for cooking and should be completely covered with water. For example, soaked black beans only take about 6 minutes when pressure-cooked while unsoaked black beans take 25 minutes once the pressure cooker reaches its full pressure.

To cook the beans, use ¾ cup of water for each 1 cup of presoaked dried beans (measure the beans before soaking). Bring to high pressure over high heat, and then reduce the heat to maintain high pressure. Once your timer beeps, remove the pot from the heat and let the pressure come down naturally. Carefully remove the lid, tilting it away from you. Taste the beans to see whether they are cooked through. If they are, use them. If not, replace the lid and bring the pot to high pressure over high heat again for another minute or two. It is best to let the pressure drop naturally because the beans can split open otherwise. Split beans will not matter if you are making hummus or another bean dip.

Note: The above instructions are for a “modern” or “spring-valve” pressure cooker, not your grandmother’s pressure cooker with the jiggler on top that hisses and can “blow-up.” The new pressure cookers are quiet and reliable. They have a little button that pops up to let you know it is time to set the timer and lower the heat to keep the pot at pressure. When your timer beeps, move the pot to a cool burner and wait for the pressure to come down naturally.

Find other tips on cooking our heirloom beans here.