Cooking Dried Beans

by Merissa on January 18, 2012

in Rice N Beans

Cooking Dried Beans

Cooking Dried Beans

Many people shy away from having and cooking dried beans. I have found dried beans to be a staple pantry item in our house. They are versatile, cost effective, and "good for you".

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When you are buying already canned beans from the store, you are getting a very high amount of sodium in each can, plus there may be added fat to them or other preservative type ingredients. By cooking dried beans, you are able to control what you add to them.

I always have on hand a wide assortment of dried beans. I usually have at any given time: pinto beans, red beans or kidney beans, lima beans, great northern beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans. I actually use whatever I have on hand when I am putting something together, as we are not picky on the certain type.
There are a couple different ways to prepare your beans, but I am going to only talk about pre-soaking overnight and then cooking dried beans. This is not the only method, but it is the one that I end up using most often. YES...it does take some pre-planning or thinking about what you will be having, but if you soak extra and freeze them, you won't have to have as much thought put into it for the next meal or two.

You can soak as many beans as you would like. Here is the first picture of the pinto beans that I started with. Place them in an overly large bowl (to provide extra room for expanding). If you see any beans that are discolored, discard those.

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Next, cover your beans with water. They need to have several inches of water above the bean line, as they will expand, soaking up the liquid. I start soaking mine in the evening.

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This picture is the beans the next morning, after they have soaked all night. See how the water is still covering all of them. Be sure to have added enough, so they all will still be covered in the morning.

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Next, you will want to rinse your beans that have been soaking very thoroughly. This is an important step. It will make your beans less "gassy", so be sure not to miss this step. Rinse them with nice cool water making sure all the old water has been discarded and all the beans have been rinsed.

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After my soaked beans were rinsed, I measured out approximately 8 cups to place in the crock-pot. I saved back approximately 2 cups to put in a freezer bag for a later meal. They are ready to be cooked in any meal that uses beans.

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I am cooking the 8 cups to be used as beans in tacos and also to use in chili for two of my meal planning this week. I added in 6 cups of water with the 8 cups of soaked beans. I also added in a small amount of diced onion and some seasonings. At this point, you can cook them plain or add in any seasonings of your choosing. If I am going to use them for tacos, burritos, etc., I will use some taco seasonings like garlic, onion, cumin, chili powder, etc.... The amount and kind of seasonings you use is entirely up to you and your family's tastes.

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This picture was taken after cooking the beans in the crock-pot on high for 6 hours (the time may vary according to your crock-pot or you could also cook them on low --for several more hours). This is how they looked. They have enough liquid still on them, so none are hard or burned on. They are all very soft.

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I used this utensil that I have to smash the beans to give them a smoother texture. Be creative with your kitchen utensils. You could also use a metal potato masher. We prefer them semi-smashed, but not completely, so I just keep using this tool until I have our desired texture. If you do like them smooth, you can let them cool slightly, and then place them in a blender or food processor.

I am using this amount of cooked beans this week for two of our meals. One meal was tacos/burritos with super nachos leftover for lunches. The other meal I used them for was crock-pot chili. I will save the smaller bag, that I froze, for another week when we may have one or the other of these meals again.

I hope this helps you to visualize soaking and cooking dried beans. I also hope that you will give it a try! Let me know how it turns out for you or as always, if you have any questions, let us know.

Until next time, Julie
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Julie is Merissa's mom and she's committed to living a frugal and simple lifestyle. Julie grows her own herbs in her garden and enjoys making things at home. You can now find her home remedies and ideas here at Little House Living.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rivka Howley January 18, 2012 at 10:11 am

I’ve been using my pressure cooker to cook beans from dry to cooked in less than an hour. It works great for black beans, but pinto beans get a bitter taste. Would soaking the pinto beans first give a better result?

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2 Julie January 18, 2012 at 10:28 am

Rivka, I have also used my pressure cooker to cook beans and it does make it easy and fast. We didn’t write about using the pressure cooker, as many people tend to shy away from using them or don’t have one. It makes it easy to get a good meal on the table in often under 30 minutes. I am not sure about soaking them first and then using the pressure cooker, but it would be worth a try. It may make a difference to soak them and then rinse that water before you pressure cook them. I bet you wouldn’t even have to soak them overnight. You probably could do it in the morning, rinse the beans before supper, and make them in the pressure cooker that eve. If you try it, write back a note and let me know how it turns out.

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3 Catherine February 19, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I also used my pressure cooker for the first time to cook pinto beans and they were bitter as well. Does it have to do with pressure cooking them? Have you pressure cooked pinto beans without getting a bitter flavor?

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4 Leah January 18, 2012 at 11:19 am

LOVE that you spelled this out. I had a major FAIL a while back and have been scared ever since. you have made me want to try again!

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5 Lisa January 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I am just started to try beans and thought you had to cook them before putting them in the freezer.
I like the crockpot idea.
I have bean doing great northern and seasoning for baked beans.
Julie thank you so much for sharing with us your wisdom

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6 Lisa @SmartSpendingSpot January 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm

I’m assuming this would work for lentils too? I have a bag of dried lentils for a recipe. I want to try the recipe but am not familiar working with dried beans.

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7 Gail May 3, 2012 at 11:51 am

I for the first time cooked a bag of mixed dry beans. I froze them in sandwich bag portions after they were cooked. I just take a bag out and pop them in the microwave or thaw a bit in cold water then throw them in whatever Im using them in.

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8 Shelly Smith July 30, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Perhaps a silly question, but I often save the “grey water” from rinsing veggies and things to water my plants and garden. Do you think this soaking water and the water used to rinse the beans is okay for that purpose?! I hate to waste water, but if the “off-put” from soaking the beans is bad, then I will just toss it out!

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9 Merissa July 30, 2013 at 8:26 pm

I’m honestly not sure! I guess you would just have to try it and see how it goes.

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10 Patty January 11, 2014 at 11:27 am

Don’t forget to save the water you soaked them to water your plants – nice nitrogen rich boost :)

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11 kristi m. January 11, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Ok…excuse my stupid question. Still trying to figure out the bean cooking method. :) so there is no need to cook the beans after you soak them and before you freeze them? I saw another blog that they soaked beans then canned them uncooked. Will the soften more as they are stored? Not totally understanding. Would love clarification! ;)

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12 Merissa January 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm

If you just want to freeze the beans for a future meal you can do that after soaking, however when you want to eat them later you will still have to cook them, you just get to save the soaking step. Yes, you can them uncooked, we’ve got a great post about it here: Canning Dried Beans.

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13 Mary Weibling January 11, 2014 at 1:53 pm

I use my electric pressure ccoker. Easy peasy. I also bottle my beans in pints using my big pressure cooker. Either way you can’t beat the price of beans and how healthy they are. Enjoy your website.

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14 Karine Jones January 11, 2014 at 4:23 pm

I just was wondering how much beans you soaked? You didn’t specify. You just said “soak as many beans as you like”. Love your website and all your recipes and ideas by the way!

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15 Merissa January 11, 2014 at 6:15 pm

I soak a different amount of beans each time, just depends on what I’m going to use them for! I don’t think I’ve ever soaked less than 4 cups.

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16 Ginger January 11, 2014 at 6:17 pm

And lastly, soaking helps further break down those pesky oligosaccharides, the indigestible sugars that cause gas in beans, as well as removing tannins, phytic acid and tryspin inhibitors.

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17 Norma January 11, 2014 at 7:53 pm

You should ALWAYS “look” your beans ( That’s what the “old timers” call it ) before rinsing and soaking them. This means spreading them out on a cutting board and looking for the tiny pebbles that are quite often found in the bag.
You sure don’t won’t to bite down on a small rock and break a tooth.
I have been cooking beans for years and wouldn’t think of soaking them before doing this. :)

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18 kara January 11, 2014 at 9:56 pm

My problem with cooking beans from dried, is my hard water. They never seem to achieve “soft”.(And Hubby hates that!) Does anyone have any advice? I haven’t used my crockpot to cook them.

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19 Merissa January 12, 2014 at 11:04 am

We have hard water and cook them in the crockpot and it works really well!

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20 Pamela January 12, 2014 at 11:23 am

Thank you for the post about cooking and freezing beans. I was just getting to the point of trying this. Now I know how to proceed.

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21 Kelly January 12, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Thanks for this! Ditto to the prior posters’ “fail” stories. Any idea how much of dried beans = say, 1 cup of cooked beans or do you think it varies from bean to bean? I had trouble knowing last time, plus the bag didn’t say it.. :/

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22 Merissa January 13, 2014 at 7:21 am

It’s really hard to say but 1 cup of dried beans at least doubles in size when soaked and cooked.

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23 Linzy February 19, 2014 at 11:32 pm

I cook mine on the stove in a large pot. I put 3 beef bouillon cubes, onion, and salt and pepper in it. You talk about good! The bouillon gives it a richer, heartier flavor. My family loves this with fried potatoes and greens! :)

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24 Emilie March 27, 2014 at 4:21 pm

I make these with some chicken broth, water, onion, jalapeno, garlic, and other spices. I make a big batch on taco or nacho night, then I use the left overs to make bean and cheese burritos to freeze. These are a great quick lunch for my husband or son when they are home and I’m not!

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