Why dried beans?
There are many benefits to cooking dried beans, as opposed to using canned beans:
- Dried beans cost less per pound.
- You can control the amount of sodium in your beans.
- Dried beans don't have any preservatives.
On a day when you have a couple hours to be at home, cook a batch (or two, for variety) of beans, and keep them in a covered container in the refrigerator (for up to 3 days) or in 1- to 2- cup packages in the freezer.
Preparing and cooking
Why? Soaking beans helps you digest them better, and also cuts down dramatically on the cooking time.
- Measure the amount of beans you want to cook. (Keep in mind 1 cup of dried beans yields about 3 cups of cooked beans.)
- Lay out the beans and pick out any rocks, stones, or dried, withered, discolored beans.
- Add three times the amount of cold water as you measured for the beans. For instance, for 1 cup of beans, add 3 cups of water.
- Cover and let sit in the refrigerator overnight, or at least 8 hours.
- After the allotted time, drain and rinse the beans.
- After draining and rinsing the soaked beans, add the beans to a large stock pot and add three times the amount of water as the amount of beans you measured out. Note: Do not add salt or acidic ingredients, such as vinegar, lemon or lime juice, or tomatoes. Why? It stops or dramatically slows down the cooking process, causing the beans to never soften.
- Bring to a rapid boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer (a slow, gentle boil), cover with a lid, and let cook for at least 45 minutes.
- Beans are done when you can easily smash one between your fingers. (Test a few beans). If they are not done after 45 minutes, check on them every 10-15 minutes. Beans can take up to 1 1/2 hours to cook. Cooking time varies depending on the variety, age, size, and the altitude.
- If you will be using them right away, drain the beans in a colander and use the beans as intended.
- If you plan to save the beans for later, drain the beans and place them in a shallow container with cold water to cool in the refrigerator, then drain. If you're not planning to use them within the 2-3 days, freeze in 1- to 2-cup packages.
- Beans will keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days. For longer periods of time, store in the freezer.
- Because salt is not added during or after cooking, you may need to add a little salt when using cooked beans in a recipe that calls for canned beans. Start with a very small amount, taste the recipe, and if it needs more salt, add up to 1/2 teaspoon to taste.