Saturday, February 4, 2012

How to cook dry beans

Since reading The Everything Beans Book by Katie Kimball, I've been trying to incorporate more beans into our diet. This is partly to save money, since beans are so much cheaper than meat. It's also because I'm trying to get more variety in my diet, and this is one food group I've overlooked in the past.

I wasn't raised on beans, so unless I seek out bean recipes, I don't tend to think of them when I'm menu planning. I've had to be quite intentional about picking recipes from The Everything Beans Book and from Kim Wilson's latest e-book, Good and Easy Eats.

As you may remember from when Kim guest posted on Craving Fresh last year, she's a gluten-free vegan, so several of her recipes in Good and Easy Eats feature beans. She has also included really simple instructions on how to prepare beans, just like Katie has in The Everything Beans Book.

With these to e-books at hand, I feel confident incorporating beans into our menu.

In my stockpot at the moment is a huge batch of freshly cooked black beans. In my quest to eat more beans, I've discovered that black beans and pinto beans are particularly good.

I like to buy dry beans and cook them myself for three main reasons:
  • It's more economical
  • It uses less packaging
  • It's healthier 
To increase digestibility and decrease gassy emissions post consumption (farts, people), beans need to be cooked properly. Here's how:

How to cook beans from dry
1. Choose how many beans you want to cook. (1 cup of dry beans turns into about 2.5 cups of cooked beans. Beans freeze well though, so I like to save time and effort by cooking a huge batch and dividing it up into portion sizes equivalent to 1 can - around 400g.)

2. Rinse beans thoroughly in a sieve under a running tap.

3. Place beans in the pot you're going to cook them in, and cover with plenty of warm filtered water (about 3 cups of water to every 1 cup of beans). According to Amanda Rose, the ideal temperature to soak beans in is 140°F / 60°C.

4. Soak for 8 to 24 hours.

5. Halfway through the soaking period, drain and rinse beans again, then place back in their pot and cover again with plenty of warm filtered water. (This step is optional, but it is thought to help with gassy issues post consumption.)

6. After soaking for up to 24 hours, drain and rinse again, and then place beans back in their pot and cover with plenty of filtered water. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently.

7. Skim off any scum that rises to the top during cooking, to remove impurities.

8. Cook beans until they are soft to the bite, but still holding their shape - about 1.5 to 2 hours for chickpeas and kidney beans, and 1 to 1.5 hours for all other beans.

Warning: Don't add salt, lemon or vinegar to the beans during the cooking stage. It will increase cooking time and make the resulting beans tougher.

More information on beans
Soaking beans: How hot? How long? The food science behind it - Rebuild from Depression
Soaking the magical fruit (aka beans and legumes) - Delicious Obsessions
Soaking nuts and legumes - Divine Health from the Inside Out
How to de-gas beans - Whole New Mom
How and why to store beans - Whole New Mom
Why I no longer soak my beans - Cooking Traditional Foods

Bean recipes I'd like to try
Refried beans - which can then be used to make my Mexican rollups.
No-bake grain-free brownies
Fast and yummy bean dip
Chocolate chip cookie dough dip
Mexican lasagne
Chickpea wraps

How do you like to eat your beans? Any good recipes I should try?


  1. Good luck on your mission! We have added chickpeas and other beans to our baked goods, but must do so in moderation as there are cross-allergies to legumes and digestive issues to accommodate.
    However, I have made black bean brownies several times for my family with incredible results. I was so inspired that I created a healthy black bean brownie pancake... even substituting dates for the sugar and adding vegetables!
    They are truly fabulous! Someday soon, I MUST write down the recipe!

    1. Ooh, yes please Jana! I'd love to try your brownie pancake recipe.
      I made black bean brownies once, but they tasted too "beany" for me. My daughter, Lily, liked them though - and I was happy to feed her as much of it as she wanted, which was a bonus.

  2. Love cooking with beans! I cook mine in the crock pot, combing the soaking and cooking ( So much cheaper than buying beans in tins!


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