How-To: Cook Dried Beans

Preparing dried beans in three easy steps
by Ed Coffin

Dried beans are low in fat, high in protein and fiber, and incredibly inexpensive. What keeps most of us from enjoying them is the time and preparation required to make them edible. Fortunately, the process can be simplified into three easy steps that will have you eating beans in no time!

Step 1: Selection and Inspection
This is an important step in preparing dried beans, as you don’t want to chomp down on a rock hard bean. Be sure that your beans are purchased from a place that rotates the stock frequently, because beans that are too old may never completely cook. Inspect your beans thoroughly before preparing by discarding any that are broken, browned or abnormal-looking.
 
Step 2: Soaking
Soaking beans breaks down indigestible sugars and makes nutrients available for absorption. There are several methods you can use to soak. One is to cover them with several inches of water and allow them to soak overnight. Alternately, you can cover them with water, boil for five minutes, then let them sit for two hours off the heat. The quickest way is to use a pressure cooker by covering them with water, pressure cooking for five minutes, then allowing them to sit inside the cooker for an additional hour off the heat. After soaking is complete, discard the soaking water and rinse the beans to remove the indigestible sugars that can cause gas.

Step 3: Cooking
There’s more than one way to cook a dried bean. One is traditional boiling, by covering the beans with about an inch of water and bringing them to a boil. From there, you turn them down to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook until tender. Or place your soaked beans into the pressure cooker, cover with an inch of water and cook until tender.

Cooking Times
Cooking times for dried beans merely serve as guidelines. The only true way to know when they’re done is to test them yourself. You can always cook them longer if need be.

Black: boil 1-1 1/2 hours, pressure cook 15-20 minutes
Garbanzo: boil 2-3 hours, pressure cook 25-30 minutes
Navy: boil 2 - 2 1/2 hours, pressure cook 15-20 minutes
Kidney: boil 1 1/2 - 2 hours, pressure cook 20-25 minutes
Pinto: boil 2 - 2 1/2 hours, pressure cook 15-20 minutes