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How to Cook Dried Beans

Updated on July 17, 2011
Dried beans are easy to cook.
Dried beans are easy to cook.

Don't Get Intimidated With Learning How to Cook Dried Beans

Beans and legumes happen to be among the healthiest foods you could consume. Some people can be puzzled on how to cook dried beans. It really isn't difficult. Below are a few guidelines to help you prepare a meal with beans in a few different ways.

A Few Tips for Cooking Dried Beans

Fresher dried beans definitely will cook more quickly compared to older dried beans, which means the cooking times below are basic rules only. Try the beans for tenderness early on and frequently throughout the cooking process. If the beans are more than a year old, you're better off throwing them out. You may end up with subpar results if you try to make them. Since bean cooking times may differ so broadly from batch to batch, you need to pre-cook dried beans prior to using in recipes.

Lack time to make dried beans? Not a problem, dried and canned beans work interchangeably for most dishes, and canned beans just need to be warmed up. Canned beans cost more than dried beans, but they are still a lot cheaper than most other foods. Rinse and drain the canned beans first before adding them to recipes. Canned beans work best in dishes where the texture is not very noticeable, as they do tend to have a slightly different texture than beans cooked from scratch.

How to Cook Dried Beans 4 Different Ways

First Beans Cooking Technique: Put beans inside a big cooking pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil. Lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until beans are tender.

Second Beans Cooking Technique: Cover beans with cold water and soak through the night or not less than eight hours. Strain and put in fresh water. Bring the beans to a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook til tender.

Quick Soak Technique: Cover with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil. Let boil for two or three minutes. Shut off heat and allow beans to soak for a couple of hours. Then simmer until tender.

Slow Cooker Technique for Cooking Beans: This always works for me, although I don't know if anyone else uses this particular method for cooking beans in a slow cooker. I simply add beans to the crockpot and then pour boiling water over them. I add enough water to cover them by about three times the depth of the beans, but this will vary depending on your particular slow cooker and how long you leave them. I usually let them cook all day, about 8-10 hours on low setting.

This setting on my old slow cooker works well, but if I use my new one, they get too hot and dry up and possibly burn if I'm not home to check on them. So again, the setting and cooking time depends on your slow cooker.

When I get home, if the water hasn't cooked down enough, I drain the beans. Then I add them back to the slow cooker, along with any seasonings that have added salt. I let them simmer long enough to blend the flavors, and then they are ready.

How to Cook Red Beans and Rice

Some More Things to Keep in Mind When Cooking Beans

Prior to cooking, rinse the beans and pick through all of them, getting rid of any kind of little pebbles which occasionally get combined in as well as tossing out all shriveled or discolored beans. Although they are dried, the more fresh the bean the higher quality, in both taste as well as for the nutritional content.

I have always been told to never add salt or any spices that contain salt when cooking dried beans until they are done. Otherwise, they will stay firm and never get tender. I'm not sure if this is true, (I suspect it's not), but I've always followed this advice. Just a heads up if you still end up with hard beans after cooking them all day and don't know why.

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