How to Cook Dried Beans

How to cook dried beans - The Messy Baker

11 Mar How to Cook Dried Beans

How to cook dried beans - The Messy Baker

Last month, I looked at how to debone a chicken as a faster-than-you’d-think way to save money and reduce salt in your diet. This month, the money-saving, salt-smashing culinary technique deals with how to cook dried beans and legumes. And no, the kitchen reno hasn’t made me lose all sense of proportion.

The biggest objection I hear about cooking your own beans is, “But it takes soooo long!”  Well, yes and no. Sure soaking and boiling takes time, but you don’t have to stand there and keep watch. Your active time — picking out stones, pouring water, draining — is only a few minutes. The beans can soak while you sleep and cook while you do other things. Like laundry.

Hmmm. Not sure that scenario helped my case.

Anyway, if you look at the amount of labour involved, cooking your own beans — even chick peas — isn’t all that time consuming. Just think of them as a stock item you always have on hand and not a single ingredient for a specific meal. I’ve been cooking and freezing big batches of beans for more than a year now and not only notice they taste better than their canned counterparts, the texture is far less mushy. This won’t matter in a pureed bean soup, but a bean salad? Why it’ll turn you into a food snob.

The videos below, courtesy of Rouxbe Online Cooking School, run for less than 7 minutes combined and provide all the information you need about soaking, cooking and testing beans.  The only trick I can add is to freeze them in 2-cup batches, since this is approximately the amount in a can of beans.

Is it worth the effort? I can buy a pound of dried organic black beans for the price of 1 tin — providing I can even find tinned organic black beans. And 1 pound of dried beans produces 2 to 2 1/2 tins. So by cooking your own, you’re chopping your bean bill in half. And the sodium levels? Well, you control that. Not bad for a few minutes active prep time.

Got any favourite bean recipes you care to share? Post a link if you like. I’ve got a freezer full of chickpeas just ready to go.

Sorting, Rinsing & Soaking Dried Beans

Rouxbe Online Cooking School & Video Recipes

How to Cook Dried Beans

Rouxbe Online Cooking School & Video Recipes

Testing Beans for Doneness

Rouxbe Online Cooking School & Video Recipes

Like what you see? As part of the Rouxbe.com  affiliate program, I have the power to give you a free, full-access, no-videos-barred, one-week pass to their site. All you have to do is go to Rouxbe Online Cooking School and redeem the 7-day Gift Membership. You can enjoy all Rouxbe has to offer for a full 7 days, no strings attached.

And then? Your Gift Membership will silently morph into a Basic Membership, which means you can access the recipes but not the Cooking School videos. However, if you’d like to purchase a Premium Membership, it is very reasonably priced. A full-year is only $99.


Scarlet runner bean photo © llsimon53. Published under a Creative Commons License.

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No Comments
  • Cheryl@5secondrule
    Posted at 18:25h, 11 March Reply

    Those scarlet runners are lovely!

    My favorite bean recipe right now is definitely the minestrone I adapted from Nani Steele’s beautiful book My Nepenthe: http://5secondrule.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/01/minestrone-recipe-from-my-nepenthe.html

    I just love the burst of color whole beans add to soups, and the body the pureed ones add to dips. I say toss your chick peas with some cooked ditalini, crushed red pepper, fennel and garlic! Yum!
    .-= Cheryl@5secondrule´s last blog ..Muesli =-.

  • Carrie
    Posted at 10:24h, 12 March Reply

    I have to admit, I often go the lazy route and use canned legumes (except lentils which cook quickly enough.) I rationalize it by the energy cost involved in cooking beans. But you’re right, that I have no control over the amount of sodium I’m ingesting.
    However, I’ve been tempted to try a pressure cooker, I’ve heard that can reduce the cooking time significantly. I’m a little scared of it, to be honest. I think it’s a childhood fear, enforced by my father’s belief that pressure will explode with little provocation.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 10:47h, 12 March Reply

      @Carrie, don’t consider it the lazy route. I don’t think cooking your own beans is something most people think about.

      Thanks for mentioning the pressure cooker. I’m about to do some experimenting with one. I’ll test beans for sure.

      Pressure cookers used to be quite dangerous but are now engineered with multiple safety features. I trust the new versions, but wouldn’t touch an “old generation” model. No sense renovating the kitchen only to blow a hole in the ceiling with a pressure cooker.

      • Carrie
        Posted at 23:24h, 15 March Reply

        @Charmian Christie,
        True. Maybe you should have done your pressure cooker experiments before the reno!
        Look forward to reading how that goes.
        And sadly, I do think about cooking beans, I just never actually do it. In fact I have a lot of them sitting in glass jars on my counter. Good thing they don’t really go bad.

  • lori
    Posted at 21:45h, 12 March Reply

    I think you are psychic! I was going to ask you about soaking and cooking beans.To save money , for the freshness and as well to avoid the cancer causing white lining inside the cans….My problem is lack of freezer to store the cooked beans…

    • lori
      Posted at 21:47h, 12 March Reply

      P.S. I am wondering about the cooking process in a slow cooker? any thoughts?

  • Cheryl Arkison
    Posted at 16:08h, 16 March Reply

    A trick I picked up from America’s Test Kitchen – soak them in a brine, or at least heavily salted water. This does wonders for helping them keep their shape and not have skins all over.

    I also bake my beans just to cook them, no babysitting on the stove required.
    .-= Cheryl Arkison´s last blog ..Bean Burgers Yum! =-.

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