Before cooking beans, whether black, pinto, white, kidney or any other variety, it is best to hydrate them to reduce cooking time and save heat, electricity or gas. Hydration also ensures that the beans are clean and well rinsed. Soaking beans for an extended period of time is also believed to help reduce the enzyme build up that causes gases to accumulate after eating beans. Always discard the soaking water after the beans are hydrated.
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Rinse the beans thoroughly in cold water to remove any dirt or pebbles that made it through the processing plant.
Fill a large pan with water and bring it to a rapid rolling boil. Add the beans and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Let the beans simmer for two to three minutes before removing from the heat.
Cover the pot and allow the beans to soak in the hot water for four to 16 hours. The longer they soak, the less cooking time will be needed. Soaking overnight is a good option.
Drain the beans and discard the water. Return to the pot and fill with fresh water and cook as directed in your recipe.