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Beans, Legumes, Pulses, Everything You Wanted to Know Part 3 – How to Prepare Dried Beans for Cooking

Updated on December 9, 2012

Beans, Legumes and Pulses

In the first part of Beans, Legumes, Pulses, Everything You Wanted to Know Part 1, we discussed why they are good for you and where you can purchase them. In the second part of Beans, Legumes, Pulses, Everything You Wanted to Know Part 2 - Identifying Beans, we sorted the common types used with a brief description of the characteristics of the individual beans along with a photo for easy identification. This now leads us to Part 3, what do we do next after purchasing the beans? You can store them in the cupboard for one year provided that the container is moisture and air proof or you can prepare them for cooking.

Preparing Dried Beans

Dried beans and dried whole peas must be soaked prior to cooking. This is an important step, and should not be shortened or overlooked. Remember that garbanzo beans, or commonly known as chick peas, are beans and must also be soaked. Lentils, split peas and black eyed peas do not require pre-soaking on the condition that they will be cooked to a minimum temperature of 100 0 C for at least 10 minutes to ensure the breakdown of phytates and lectins. There are two methods to soaking beans: the quick soak method and the slow soak method.

Method 1: Quick Soak Method

Quick Soak Method

First, sort through the beans. Discard broken and shrivelled beans, rocks, grit and grass. I also sort out any other legumes that do not belong in there. Second, place the beans in a large colander and place under cold, running water. Rinse the beans and gently move them around with your fingers. The water will be murky at first, but after a few minutes, will run clear. Let the beans drain.

Next, place the beans in a large cooking pot and cover with three times the volume of water. For example, one cup beans will require 3 cups water. Place on the stove and bring to a boil. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes and remove from heat. Let stand covered for at least one hour. Drain beans and rinse under cold running water. You can store the beans in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to cook them.

Method 2: Slow Soak Method

Slow Soak Method

Follow the sorting and washing instructions for the Quick Soak Method. Next, place the beans in a large bowl. Cover the beans with three times the volume of the beans with cold water. Allow the beans to sit for at least 8 hours or overnight in a cool place. When thoroughly soaked, drain the water and rinse with cold water. If you are not using them immediately, you can store them in the refrigerator.

What can I do with my soaked beans?


Now that your beans are soaked, you are ready to cook them or you can freeze them for later use. If you choose to freeze them, make sure that you label the bag with “Only Soaked, Not Cooked” so that they cannot be confused with cooked beans. If you use the uncooked beans in a salad, you will be in for a surprise!

Beans can be cooked in chillis, soups, stews and casseroles. For these dishes, the beans can be cooked direct with the recipe as long as the beans have a 45 minute cooking time. If you are using garbanzo beans or chick peas, the time will have to be lengthened to 1 hour and 20 minutes.

You can toss your salad and vegetables with cooked beans. They add a nutty flavour, texture and fibre into the dish. For cooking times for various beans, see the following chart. The method of cooking the beans follows the chart.

Suggested Cooking Time for Beans – Soaked

 Soaked Beans
Cooking Time 
30 - 35 minutes 
Chick Pea (Garbanzo) 
1 hour 20 minutes 
Great Northern
40 - 45 minutes
Kidney (Red or White)
35 - 40 minutes
55 - 60 minutes
35 - 40 minutes 
30 - 35 minutes
Small Red
30 - 35 minutes

Suggested Cooking Times for Beans – Unsoaked

(click column header to sort results)
Unsoaked Beans   
Cooking Time  
Black-Eyed Peas 
30 minutes
20 - 25 minutes
Split Peas 
20 - 25 minutes

I cooked the beans according to the chart times, but my beans are not cooked!

This can happen with old beans that have been on the market shelf too long. Remedy this by shopping at another locale that has higher frequency of shoppers purchasing legumes. If the beans are not old and you live at a high altitude, adjust the cooking time. You will need more time to cook them as the higher you are, the longer the cooking time. If it isn’t altitude or freshness, then it could be the water. If you have hard water, you will have to keep cooking. Try the “bite” test as you cook to gauge the softness of the beans. If the beans do not soften, then throw them out.

How do I convert dried and canned measurements?

How much is enough?

As you know, all dried ingredients when soaked will expand. Generally for most beans, 1 cup will yield 2 ¼ cup – 2 ½ cups cooked beans. The exception to the rule are garbanzo beans or chick peas, lima beans and Great Northern beans. For these types of beans, 1 cup will yield 2 ½ cup to 3 cups cooked.

Cooking with dried beans requires some planning for the night before cooking. Sometimes, we may not have the time and turn to the more convenient canned bean or lentil. We can use these in recipes and substitute for the cooked beans. In these cases, canned beans are sold by the ounce not by the cup. The following chart provides the canned equivalent for cups.

Equivalent Measurements

(click column header to sort results)
Size of Can    
 Amount in Cups or mL  
14 oz./398 mL 
= 1-1/2 cups/375 mL 
19 oz./540 mL  
= 2-1/4 cups/540 mL  
28 oz./796 mL  
= 3 - 3-1/4 cups/750 - 796 mL  

You're now ready to cook!!

Your beans are ready for cooking!

Beans are extremely versatile as they can be used in salads, soups, appetizers, main dishes and, yes, dessert. As an appetizer, there is nothing tastier than a good hummus with roasted pita or naan bread. Accompanied with a feta garbanzo salad, this makes a filling meal.

Lentils, peas and beans provide flavour and texture in soups. Some of my favourite ones include vegan leek and lentil soup, mulligatawny soup, lentil soup and chick pea and coconut soup.

Lentils are fabulous in main dishes. One that I often serve is lentil pie with a side of Sarah’s Caesar salad and a fresh fruit smoothie. For the ones who love chilli, I have a special chilli that I make. It’s not super hot, but has an added twist of sweetness to it. I call it my Sweet Chilli and served with fresh French baguette and warmed butter, it’s to die for! I could go on and on with a few more recipes, but I’d rather go and cook. Let’s get ready and head to the kitchen!

© Beth100

Copyright June 7, 2010


White Bean Salad
White Bean Salad

Look out! It's another HUBMOB !!! (and one for the June Hublicious Foody Contest)

© 2010 Beth100


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    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

      Eaglette -- Thank you for your feedback. I have clarified the process for soaking the lentils, split peas and black eyed peas. Similar to other legumes, these three should also be presoaked. The only time that you will not need to presoak overnight is if they are going to be cooked at 100 degrees C for a minimum of 10 minutes to break down the phytates and lectin. I have reworded this paragraph to clarify this step.

      Thank you for asking this important question.

    • profile image

      eaglette 6 years ago

      Beth - Great info and I'm looking forward to trying recipes! One area of confusion I hope you can clear up --In Part 1 you say it's important to soak lentils because of their high concentration of phytates, but in Part 3 you say it's not necessary to pre-soak lentils, split peas and black eyed peas. Can you clarify?

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

      Rusticliving -- Thank you for both your wonderful comments and, especially, your link. I appreciate this very much. :) BTW, I love your articles!! Everyone -- you should check out Rusticliving -- awesome articles!! :)

    • Rusticliving profile image

      Elizabeth Rayen 6 years ago from California

      Love this informational hub on beans. I've been looking for something like this for while. Great job. Voted up, shared and linked to my Healthy Eating~ Feeling Great hub! :) Lisa

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      Timorous -- I've bean there too - different cooking elements, and different slowcookers, require time adjustments. What a great point to bring up -- thanks! I'll forgive you for not trying my chili -- you can always substitute the meat with chickpeas or TVP if you prefer to stay vegan. Thanks Timorous and cheers to you too! :)

    • timorous profile image

      Tim Nichol 7 years ago from Me to You

      Look out's the bean lady!!! Hi Beth :) Here I am just getting around to the bean hub series (I've read the other 2). Really great stuff.

      In fact as I type this, I'm having a yummy vegetarian chili (I still haven't tried your chili recipe yet..sorry). I agree, soaking overnight is way better. One thing I've also found, is stovetop heating elements vary considerably in their heat output. I've used a few different stoves in my time, and I've always had to re-adjust my cook times until I get used to the stupid thing.


    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      Jack -- Yes, soaking the beans overnight will give a better texture in the end result. I also find that quick soaking results in a less flavorful dish. I haven't figured that one out yet. Lentils are great -- easy to find, cook and are extremely versatile. Thanks Jack!

    • Jack Crockett profile image

      Jack Crockett 7 years ago from Columbia, Missouri

      Wow: There's a lot of info in this hub. It seems to me that the quick soak method (which is necessary sometimes because you want some and you didn't think to start soaking them the night before)doesn't produce as good of results as an overnight soaking. Do you find this to be true, or is it my imagination?

      I haven't much experience with lentils. Definitely must try some!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      FirstStepsFitness -- I can relate to that! I find it ironic that in some recipes, you soak the beans, spice them and then roast them slowly so that they are all dried up again. I always wonder "Why soak and then cook. Why not just spice them and eat them"! :)

    • FirstStepsFitness profile image

      FirstStepsFitness 7 years ago

      Great Hub Beth ! Yes before I mastered the soaking process we ate some very crunchy beans lol

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      Shaniavan89 - Yes, legumes and lentils are great for your health!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      PDH -- When I was learning to cook with beans, I didn't understand how important the soaking step was. Now, I know that this is the key step in creating fantastic bean dishes. Thanks Maita!

    • profile image

      shaniavan89 7 years ago

      gud 4 heaith


    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      This is good as you explained the diff length of time of soaking the beans I will read the first one, Maita

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      Winsome -- Thank you very much for the explanation and heirloom recipe!!! I'm going to try the cornpone this weekend...too bad I just served chili last night. :) Ahhh, yes, when I lived in Montreal, there was a pâtissière on the way to work where I stopped in every morning for a hot, freshly baked baguette. I always travelled with a 1/2 pound of butter...that was breakfast, lunch and snack! mmmm, the best!!

    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hey Beth, as far as I can determine, the original corn pone was merely a thicker version of corn bread--always baked, but originally in a covered iron pan on an open fire--probably a Dutch Oven type of pan with coals placed on the top for even baking. Here is a 100 year old recipe:

      Corn Pone #10

      Take 2 cupfuls of corn meal, 2 cupfuls of wheat flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of melted butter. Add 1 beaten egg, 1 scant teaspoonful of salt, 1 teaspoonful of soda; mix with enough fresh buttermilk to make a moderately stiff batter. Bake in a hot oven. Serve with cream or butter.

      From the 1906 Inglenook Cookbook--Sisters of the Brethren Church

      Sister Alice Smith, Rockton, Pa.

      Our local Vons store has a rule that if the French Bread and baguettes are not hot out of the oven at 5 pm, it is free, so it is hard to resist not picking one up and slathering the butter on even before you get home. =:)

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      Winsome - Thank you, and I have finally figured out what cornpone is!! lol Only thing I have to figure out is the original way of making it frying or baking? Can you enlighten me? :) I serve mine with warm French baguette and a warm pat of butter. mmmm

    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hey Beth, nicely done and helpful. Cornpone is great but I prefer delicious hot cornbread with butter and cold fresh milk. =:)

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      CC -- How does that song go? Bean, Beans the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you...... Ya can fill in the rest! ha ha If ya tell me what a cornpone is, I'll see what I can do. :) Thanks for the rating -- xoxo :)

    • profile image

      ralwus 7 years ago

      Mmmm Love them beans. Love the music they make too. rated up dear woman, now where is my cornpone?


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