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How to Cook Beans

Beans are an inexpensive source of protein, an excellent source of fiber, low in calories and they enrich the soil they are grown in.  Unlike our angry neighbor, the nature of bean is quiet, humble and giving.

How do you shop for and store dry beans?
Watch our video The Cookus Cupboard: Beans and Soyfoods.

Shall I soak?

  • Yes. Everything but really small beans needs a soaking.  
  • Overnight or 6-8 hours is best.
  • Cover beans with water by about an inch or two inches
  • If they soak too long they will start to sprout; to halt that process, put in refrigerator
  • Quick soak okay but not as effective in eliminating phytic acid and ogliosaccarides.
What cooking method is best?
The two preferred methods of cooking beans shown are simmering and pressure cooking.  To decide which, consider what kind of outcome you desire. For beans that holds itself together for salads  - simmer,  For a softer bean to be used in soups, stews, spreads or sauces– pressure cook.  You can also use a slow cooker, but you will still need to soak the beans first.

When do I add other flavors?
To infuse beans with flavor sauté aromatics (like onions and garlic), herbs and spices in fat before adding soaked beans and water.  If you want generic beans to use in a variety of dishes, cook them plain and add dressings, herbs and spices after they are cooked.

How much water do I add?
Drain off soaking water and add twice as much water as DRY beans (1 cup dry beans, 2 cups water). 

Cooking time?
For pressure cooking, bring heat up to high, allow pressure to rise (a gauge should come up), reduce heat and pressure cook, low (but with the gauge up) for 45 minutes.

For simmering follow the same instructions but keep beans at a nice low simmer for about 45-60 minutes (less time for smaller beans).

When do I add salt?
Depends on who you ask.  I say AFTER they are cooked.  About 1 teaspoon per cup of dry beans.  One cup of dry beans will yield about 3 cups of cooked beans.

What if I get gas from eating beans?
Read Beans Beans the Musical Fruit (click here).

How do I tell when they’re done?
Bean is done when you can mash the bean easily in your mouth with your tongue.

What if they never get tender?
They are old beans.  Next time buy beans that are shiny and have good color.

What are some good recipes using beans?


Y.Ann Reid
I always appreciate your recipes and suggestions,but I think after washing beans and soaking the nutrients are lost when the water is discarded.Cooking with the same liquid and adding garlic makes for a real protien dish.Thanks.
June 17, 2010, 7:25 pm

c b
i'd be interested to hear a response to Y. Ann Reid's comment. i have thought about this. but i cannot imagine eating beans without rinsing after soaking. also, please adrress the issue of having an overload of hormones in body after consuming soy.. does this also apply to fermented soy? thank you! thank you! love love your site! i've passed it on to lots of people. i generally dont use cookbooks. i'm a decent enough cook without- but your recipes are among the very few exceptions that i'll glance at! healthy and unique! if only... the world had more of you..
June 17, 2010, 9:25 pm

Cynthia Lair
There are nutrients in the soaking water but also phytic acid is released (which can lead to mineral loss) and ogliosaccarides are discarded(which cause gas). Eliminating these components in the soaking water is more important than the minimal nutrient loss. The soy issue is address in a blog post called To Fu or Not To Fu. Just go to the blog and type soy in the search box. Thanks for your comments!
June 18, 2010, 7:43 am

Darbi Caudle
Greetings Cynthia. First, thank you for putting fun back into cooking! It's been great to have the energy and the drive to cook something creative once again. I was getting board cooking but not anymore! What is the best way to store the beans after they have been cooked? We are a family of 2! Thanks again and be well. Darbi
June 18, 2010, 12:30 pm

Cynthia Lair
Hi Darbi, Store cooked beans in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days (not weeks). Cooked beans also freeze pretty well. Not so great for salad but perfect for spreads and soups as they lose some of their firmness after being frozen and thawed.
June 18, 2010, 2:26 pm

Hi Cynthia I truly love cookus interuptus. I think I'm a bit obsessed even. We have been making the man to man black bean stew quite often. We have been making it in our pressure cooker without soaking the beans before hand. I'm wondering if that has been ok to do? are we consuming to much phytic acid?
June 20, 2010, 6:56 pm

Cynthia Lair
Kristina, Many people cook beans without soaking them. It just makes for a softer gentler beans. Everything you're doing is fine. No worries.
June 21, 2010, 7:36 am

angel herbert
i think soaking beans before cooking removes the back of it making it look as if you want to prepare moimoi,and it will make it so soft before cooking,i think just washing it very well before cooking is the best,,thx
July 3, 2010, 9:26 am

nina bean
September 18, 2010, 10:28 pm

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