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How to Cook Dry Beans

Updated on April 7, 2012

Beans (legumes, pulses)

Beans are an essential component of a nutritional diet, especially for vegetarians and vegans.

Beans are high in:

  • fiber
  • protein
  • complex carbohydrates
  • folate
  • iron

What is Wrong With Canned Beans?

Canned beans are extremely convenient, but they do carry many disadvantages to the earth as well as your health. Besides the unnecessary packaging, causing additional waste in our landfills, canned foods are lined with the synthetic chemical bisphenol A (BPA). BPA has been used in food products since about 1910. In canned foods, it is the plastic lining that was added to protect the food from contact with the metal can.

Learn More about Bisphenol A from Other Hubbers

If you are interested in reading more about the negative effects of BPA, check out the following hubs:


Recent studies and research has shown that BPA can be leached from the plastic lining of the can into the food, especially if the product has been exposed to high temperatures.

Bisphenol A is being studied further and is believed to be the contributor of many of the world's epidemics, including:

  • cancer
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • asthma
  • allergies

It is damaging to the reproductive system and may cause ovarian and breast cancer in women and low sperm counts and prostate cancer among men. BPA has also been linked to neurological disorders including ADHD and other learning disabilities.

What Can We Do to Protect Ourselves from BPA exposure?

One way is to not buy or cook with canned foods. I know it's easier said than done, but I wanted to write this hub to show you that cooking bulk beans, while time consuming, is not very difficult. Best of all, you can cook a whole big batch in one day and then separate and freeze for later use.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bulk dry black turtle & garbanzo beans ready for preparationMy 6 year old son, helping to sort through black beans before cookingAn assortment of black beans and garbanzo beans that did not make the cutAfter sorting, rinse beans in cool water
Bulk dry black turtle & garbanzo beans ready for preparation
Bulk dry black turtle & garbanzo beans ready for preparation | Source
My 6 year old son, helping to sort through black beans before cooking
My 6 year old son, helping to sort through black beans before cooking | Source
An assortment of black beans and garbanzo beans that did not make the cut
An assortment of black beans and garbanzo beans that did not make the cut | Source
After sorting, rinse beans in cool water
After sorting, rinse beans in cool water | Source

Preparing Dried Beans

  1. The first step is to sort and rinse your dried beans. I like to spread the beans out on a cookie sheet and pick through them. Remove any beans that appear cracked, dull or wrinkled.

    Tip: If you have children, this is a fun task to help get them involved in food preparation and you can use the defective beans to make crafts, such as bean mosaics or bean bags.
  2. After your beans have been sorted, they should be thoroughly rinsed in cold water.

The short soak method requires boiling beans for 3 minutes, then covering and setting aside for 2-4 hours.
The short soak method requires boiling beans for 3 minutes, then covering and setting aside for 2-4 hours. | Source

Short Soak/Boil Method

I prefer the short soak method, rather than the long soak method (soaking beans for 8 hours or overnight). The short soak method is a time saver and it reduces hard to digest complex sugars by 80%.

  1. Place rinsed beans in large stock pot
  2. Cover with cold water
  3. Boil beans in water for 3 minutes
  4. Cover and set aside for 2-4 hours

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) being drained and rinsed after soakingChickpeas ready to cook, fill water 1 inch above beansBeans separate into freezer bags and stored in the freezer for later use
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) being drained and rinsed after soaking
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) being drained and rinsed after soaking | Source
Chickpeas ready to cook, fill water 1 inch above beans
Chickpeas ready to cook, fill water 1 inch above beans | Source
Beans separate into freezer bags and stored in the freezer for later use
Beans separate into freezer bags and stored in the freezer for later use | Source

Cooking Beans

After your short soaked/boiled beans have sat for 2-4 hours, it is time to fully cook them.

  1. Drain the beans
  2. Rinse in cold water
  3. Add fresh water to pan (use 3-4 cups of water for each cup of dry beans) or fill water to be at least 1 inch above beans
  4. Cook beans according to the chart below, boiling on the stove top, or use a pressure cooker at high pressure

Dry Bean Cooking Table

Type of Bean
Boiling Time on Stove
Pressure Cooking
Black Turtle
1.5 hours
25 min
Black-eyed Peas
1-1.25 hours
25 min
Cannellini
1.5 hours
25 min
Garbanzo (Chickpeas)
2.5 hours
30 min
Navy
2 hours
25 min
Pinto*
2 hours
25 min
Red Kidney
1.5 hours
25 min

*Use pinto beans to make homemade refried beans in the crockpot.

Storing & Freezing Cooked Beans

After beans are finished cooking, allow to cool and then separate into freezer bags into usable portions and store in the freezer for later use.

Enjoy Your Beans!

What are your favorite uses for cooked beans? Share your recipe ideas in the comments section below.

Cooking with Beans: Recipe Hubs by Veggie-mom

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    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 5 years ago from Southwest England

      Thanks for a very informative hub, with useful table, pictures and hints. It is much cheaper to cook with dried beans than canned ones, and the health considerations are important too.

      I have always been told you should rapid-boil red kidney beans for at least 10 mins before turning the heat down to simmer, in order to get rid of certain toxins which can be poisonous if not cooked properly. Do you know if this is correct?

    • veggie-mom profile image
      Author

      veggie-mom 5 years ago

      Thank you, Imogen French! I am glad you found this information helpful. I have read that red kidney beans contain the harmful toxin (lectin phytohaemagglutinin) that must be removed by boiling for at least 10 minutes.

      When I am cooking beans, I don't turn them down to a simmer, but rather keep them at a low boil for the entire time on the chart. Just be careful they don't overflow because it makes quite a mess...speaking from experience :)

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      I found this while hopping, and cooking beans. I always soak mine, and then drain the water. I add fresh water, and sometimes I use chicken broth for flavor. As it cooks down, I add some of the "bean" water back in.

      Great ideas! Voted UP

    • veggie-mom profile image
      Author

      veggie-mom 5 years ago

      Thanks for the the feedback & bean cooking tips, cloverleaffarm! How ironic that you came across the hub while cooking beans.

    • breathe2travel profile image

      breathe2travel 5 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      I have beans soaking right now for tonight's dinner. I am incorporating dry beans more and more into our family menu.

      Voted up & useful.

      Great tips. I'd like to see some recipes as well! :)

      Warmest regards~

    • veggie-mom profile image
      Author

      veggie-mom 5 years ago

      Thanks breathe2travel, I am so glad to hear you are incorporating dry beans more and more into your family menu. Recipes are on the way...I just need to find the time to write them :)

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      This is a useful hub. I’m glad you included the information about canned beans. I’ve been avoiding tinned beans for several years now because of BPA. When I read it was in most can linings I thought that organic cans would probably be safe, but I wrote to several UK manufacturers and every one had BPA in their linings, so organic doesn’t mean organic when it comes to cans.

      I do think a pressure cooker is a must with dried beans. I use beans a lot, and my old pressure cooker’s instructions were to pour boiling water over them and leave for an hour, so I usually do that and it works fine (though it might not without a pressure cooker.) It’s similar to your method of boiling for a few minutes and then soaking for a few hours.

      I have written about the hazards of BPA in my hub on protecting kids from xenoestrogens, so I will link to this one from it.

    • veggie-mom profile image
      Author

      veggie-mom 5 years ago

      Thanks Melovy, I'm glad you found the information useful. I added a link to your hub in the additional resources capsule. There is some great information written in your article!

      I also really appreciate your input on cooking beans with a pressure cooker. I have read that it saves a lot of time and energy.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thanks for the useful information. Is there a time limit on the storage of dry beans? I mean if you keep them for a couple of years do they eventually get too dry-- or do you just soak them longer?

    • veggie-mom profile image
      Author

      veggie-mom 5 years ago

      Thanks, Rochelle! Fom what I have read, dry beans keep indefinitely, but their nutritional value decreases and their cooking time increases over time.

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