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How to cook beans. Cook dried beans for delicious beans recipes

Updated on September 11, 2009

Easy and delicious beans

photo credit: ethicurean.com
photo credit: ethicurean.com

Easy to prepare dried beans will give you a lot of great recipe options.

I was just about to write a great recipe for refried beans, when I realized that some people may not be aware of the best way to cook dried beans; so I though I would write about beans in general first!

Dried beans are both better and cheaper than canned beans. They'll last forever in the cupboard and can be prepared with minimal attention...all they really take is time!

You can soak the beans overnight to speed up the cooking process, but I find that the extra step is not really worth doing. Just let them simmer away for a few hours one afternoon, and you'll have great beans in one easy step.

1 The first thing to do is wash and pick over the beans. It doesn't matter what variety, they all sometimes get little stones and grit in them. Most should be OK, but take a minute to make sure.

2 Fry a couple of chopped onions in about 3 Tbls of oil until the onions are really really browned and rich looking. You are going to add these to the cooking liquid and this will add a great depth of flavor to the beans. You can substitute a couple of spoonfuls of lard if you have it on hand and skip this step.

3 Add your beans to the pot (They'll get about 3 times bigger than they are now, so remember to choose a big enough pot!) and add just enough water to cover the beans. The beans will cook faster in a smaller amount of water, so don't drown them, and add more water later as necessary. Add your onions and oil to this pot and bring it all to a gentle boil.

4 There is big debate about whether to salt at this point or not. You can do it, and it does add a savory taste to the beans, but it will also make the beans less likely to get creamy and soft, so I personally don't like to add it.

5 The beans will take a couple of hours to cook. The time depends on a lot of factors such as the age of the dried beans and their respective size, so it's hard to give an exact time line. The beans are done when they are creamy inside; let them cook until there is no chalky texture left.

6 You're done. Eat the beans!

You can freeze any beans that you're not going to use right away for future meals.

One thing to remember about beans is that they tend to need lots of salt to get really tasty. Keep adding salt and tasting until you get it right (leave a few extra beans around in case you add too much salt, so you can mix them back into whatever recipe you're using)

These beans will be great in quick soups, chillis, bean salads, avocado salsas…their usage is limitless; and beans are really healthy too, so enjoy them often.

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    • profile image

      Pete 8 years ago

      Great idea about holding back some beans when seasoning!

      Some times I get over zealous and add too much heat, or salt, or spice....

      Appreciate the tip!

    • profile image

      Kerry 8 years ago

      Nice description of bean cooking! I remember something about using bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) to cook old, hard beans. This is for the beans that don't want to get soft no mater how long you cook them. Every heard of this, or know the trick?

    • Eaglekiwi profile image

      Eaglekiwi 7 years ago from -Oceania

      Thanks for the basic method ,now im off to your refried hub , enjoying your recipes a lot ,thankyou very much!

    • profile image

      Nasser 7 years ago

      Thank you for the recipe!

      One reason for soaking the beans prior to cooking them is saving energy! If you do, then a good portion of the "cooking" is done at room temprature and without any additional energy by the beans themselves (which I find to be quite marvelous!).

    • profile image

      Nasser 7 years ago

      Thank you for the recipe!

      One reason for soaking the beans prior to cooking them is saving energy! If you do, then a good portion of the "cooking" is done at room temprature and without any additional energy by the beans themselves (which I find to be quite marvelous!).

    • John D Lee profile image
      Author

      John D Lee 7 years ago

      Nasser, that is a very pertinent point. Thanks for commenting!

    • profile image

      Karen 7 years ago

      Thanks so much for this awesome recipe, however I do have one question; for the 2 to 3 hours these beans are cooking, do they need to be convered? Thanks.

    • John D Lee profile image
      Author

      John D Lee 7 years ago

      Covering speeds up the process marginally. Go either way.

    • profile image

      Joe D. 7 years ago

      Thank you for the recipe and suggestions and commentary. Duly noted. My 10 cents: soaking the beans not only speeds up cooking time, but also helps dissipate the "gas" effect of the beans.

    • profile image

      Whatsername 7 years ago

      Thanks for the "Beans for Dummies" directions. I hate it when people overly complicate simple tasks, giving all sorts of extra info that makes you just want to give up and not try. I don't want to build a clock ~ I just want to know what time it is. Anyway ~ got a pot of beans cooking right now, thanks to you.

    • John D Lee profile image
      Author

      John D Lee 7 years ago

      Whatsermame - thanks for the comment - and I hope you enjoy the beans!

    • profile image

      Dawn D 6 years ago

      Grew up with a Japanese mom and Dad from Texas but mom never made beans so have been using cans for all these years. My vegetarian daughter who absolutely loves bean burritos is coming home today from college in upstate New York where bean burritos can only be found frozen at Wal Mart so I thought I would surprise her by making homemade bean and cheese burritos. Thanks for taking the time to post a Cooking Beans for Dummies page as I can make a mean pot of rice but beans are alien to me. Soaked my beans over night and getting ready to throw them on the stove now. Will try to remember to post the results on your refried beans page-looking forward to the look on her face when she gets in the car (she asked us a couple of years ago when she first went off to college if we could bring food in the car as she is starving when she gets off the plane!!) and has her first bite!! Thanks again!

    • John D Lee profile image
      Author

      John D Lee 6 years ago

      Hey that's great - I hope she appreciates the effort you're making!

    • profile image

      Opie M. 6 years ago

      If you add about a tablespoon of baking soda to beans and bring them to a boil the remove from heat and let set about an hour then drain and rinse beans and finish cooking they will have lots less gas

    • profile image

      VivekSri 6 years ago

      foodie and edible stuff on your hub, love the way you've presented them. nice platter!

    • profile image

      anne 6 years ago

      I read that the reason for soaking the beans isn't about speeding up the cooking time, but for releasing the nutritional value because it causes the beans to think that they are sprouting. It produces enzymes or something that also help with digesting the beans when eaten. Beans that aren't soaked will be harder on your system and more difficult to digest.

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      mag480@wowway.com 6 years ago

      dry beans where i can bake them in over for a dish to pass

    • profile image

      Mirembe Edith 6 years ago

      Nice and very basic method. Easy to fall in love with by people who do not enjoy cooking.

    • profile image

      SJM 5 years ago

      Finally a super "how to" for re fried beans. They taste like old Mexico without crossing the border !

    • profile image

      Janice T. 5 years ago

      If you get too salty, I've heard that adding a potato and cooking will remove some of the salt. Never tried it, but my sister has and says it works.

    • profile image

      bithynia 5 years ago

      baking soda in my bean water always make them taste like soap ... ewwww has to be a better way

    • profile image

      Micah 4 years ago

      Never been a fan of soaking or boiling then rinsing. Ive done all different methods and haven't been able to tell a difference noticable enough to justify getting rid of any of the deliciouse "bean juice". Low and slow in a CERAMIC pot is how i roll. I can drink the juice its so good. Good tip on leaving some beans aside. One of those things i cant believe i never thought of. Makes good sense. Thanks

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