Dry Bean Preparation
How Much Shall I Use?
One pound of dry beans makes 5 to 6 cups of cooked beans. One cup of dry beans makes 2 to 3 cups of cooked beans.
Basic Dry Bean Preparation
Dry beans need to be sorted before cooking as you might find a few dried-up, wrinkled beans and some small pieces of dirt that need to be removed. Rinse thoroughly with cold water before and after soaking.
Everyone has their own favorite method of soaking dry beans. They are all effective; choose the one that works best for you.
Overnight: Cover the beans with at least 3-inches of water and allow to stand overnight.
Cook/soak: Cover with water as above. Boil the dry beans for about 2 minutes, cover, and
let them soak for 1-hour prior to cooking.
Cook/soak II: Cover with water as above. Boil the dry beans over medium heat for
10 minutes. Cover and soak for 30-minutes before cooking.
No soak: Open a can of beans, drain, rinse, and drain again! Just don't add them until the
rest of the ingredients are nearly done.
It's important to drain and to rinse the soaked beans. This helps get rid of sugars that have leached out during the soaking process. These sugars are the reason why beans and other vegetables high in raffinose can cause gas (see more information about this under "nutrition".)
Add two cups of water for every 1/2-cup of presoaked beans. Cook slowly until beans are tender.
See also: http://food.unl.edu/cooking-dry-beans-scratch-can-be-quick
If you are using fairly low/slow heat, most beans cook within 1-1/2 to 2 hours, faster with higher heat, but they will hold their shape better if you slow them down. Great Northerns cook faster; between 45 and 60 minutes. Blacks and pinks cook faster, too, because of their smaller size,
1 to 1-1/2 hours.
Slow Cooker Beans
If you have all day to cook your beans, grab your slow cooker. No soaking needed. Just cover the sorted and washed beans with at least 3-inches of water and cover. Set on low before you leave for work and they will be done when you get home. Only have 1/2-day? Set them on high!
For the same reason it's important to drain and rinse soaked dry beans, you may want to buy plain canned beans, drain and rinse, then add your own seasonings. Rinsing will also reduce sodium (salt) used in the canning process.
For the most part, beans are interchangeable in recipes. Don't be afraid to substitute one type of bean for another; you might even like it better! Just remember there may be some variation in cooking times.
Beans keep very well in the freezer and they won't spoil, but air will cause dehydration and freezer burn and they will not taste good. If they are stored properly, with all the air squeezed out, they will be fine for three months. Spend a day making a big pot of beans and freeze them in baggies for whatever recipes you choose for weeks to come. You can also freeze them on cookie sheets, break them up, and put the pieces in baggies so you can take out just the amount that you need. Just be sure you roll up the baggie and squeeze all the air out before you zip it shut.