How to Cook Beans

How to Cook Beans. Although preparing dried beans can take some forethought (they usually need to be soaked before cooking), they are tastier than their canned cousins and don't really require any work on your part ... just time.

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First, sort and wash the beans. Discard any shriveled or broken ones.

Soak most beans in three times their volume of cold water for six hours before cooking. (You can cook beans without soaking, but it takes longer, and some people think the beans taste better when soaked.)

Drain and rinse the beans, and then put them in a large pot. Add water to come an inch or two over the beans. Do not add salt!

Bring the beans to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the beans are tender. (Check your package of beans, as cooking times vary for different varieties. But also check the beans occasionally, because sometimes the beans will cook more quickly than the package says.)

Tips & Warnings

  • Split peas and lentils don't need to be soaked. They take about 30 minutes to cook, or you can cook them longer until they "puree themselves" into a smooth paste (which is desirable for soups or Indian dals). Some Indian lentil varieties cook even faster.
  • One cup of beans is about three cups cooked.
  • Salt toughens the beans - don't add it until the beans are fairly tender.
  • Add a chopped onion, a bay leaf, some peppercorns and a chopped carrot to beans as they cook, particularly to chickpeas and white beans.
  • Save the flavorful bean water to use in soups or stocks.
  • Store cooked beans for up to four days in your refrigerator.
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