A Cooler Way to Cook Beans

To be frugal and healthy, we eat a lot of dried beans and legumes. Each week, I cook up a batch of one of the many different varieties available. The only problem is, beans can take 2-3 hours to cook. In the wintertime, this isn't so much of a problem, as the extra heat from cooking can warm the house and fill it with delicious smells. When we lived in the Northeast, I could let a pot simmer on the woodstove and kill two birds with one stone. Now I find myself in the desert Southwest and in the middle of the summer. I have tried cooking beans in a crock pot outside or in the garage, and that is one solution, also for a while I used a pressure cooker (until my husband broke it by fiddling with it too much!) I believe I have developed a new method which surpasses both of these. It's the cooler method.


First, soak the beans during the day. Before bed, drain them and then put them in the freezer. When the beans freeze, they expand and rupture the proteins that take so much cooking to soften and break down. The next day, thaw them and bring them to a boil on the stove. This only takes about fifteen minutes of having your burner on high. Have a cooler ready that is big enough to hold your pot and have some extra air space around it. I keep my cooler in the garage for this, since it is about 100F in there! Put a trivet in the bottom of the cooler and place the (covered of course) pot of beans inside. Then take an old comforter or something fluffy to add some extra insulation. Depending on the type of beans, they will be ready in three hours or so. I left some in all day till dinner and the pot handles were still hot enough to burn my hands when I took it out at 5pm!

By Claire from Surprise, AZ

August 1, 20060 found this helpful

This is awesome! I will have to remember this one for when hubby gets back from his business trip. Thanks for sharing!

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August 2, 20060 found this helpful

I marvel that you came up with another way to cook beans. Among the various ways to beans, I've never heard of your method until now. I have to say that your method seems like more work than cooking in a crockpot which is what I do year round.

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August 2, 20060 found this helpful


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September 9, 20070 found this helpful

I have an absoultely fabulous way to make beans given to me by a Hispanic co worker. But you probably won't believe me until you try it!!

Place uncooked beans in a large pot and cover them with about 2-3 inches of cold water.

Now here's the miraculous part - place two whole HEADS of garlic in the pot.

Not peeled garlic.

The entire head of garlic, like you buy from the grocery store.

Bring the pot to a boil and then simmer beans till cooked. But keep a close eye on them, beause they will cook very quickly!

The beans literally take, at the most, 45 minutes to cook. I've tried all kinds of beans and they don't take 2-3 hours anymore!

The most wonderful part of the garlic heads is this - no gassy after effects. None at all. None.

The garlic heads do NOT fall apart in the beans.

None of the 'paper' surrounding the heads come off in the beans.

Around 20-30 mins before the beans are cooked, add whatever vegetables you want and continue cooking. Remove the garlic heads and enjoy!

Truly, no one was more disbelieving than I was!

In the past, I also tried soaking the beans beforehand; changing the water; all of the tricks, but no luck like this recipe.

Besides, when ever I tried to pre soak beans, the skins of the beans came off of them.

With this recipe, the beans look like they came out of a can - perfect!

Works like an absolute charm.


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January 9, 20090 found this helpful

I am going to try the garlic idea tomorrow. We are expecting snow (again) and I plan to make beans.

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March 8, 20090 found this helpful

I'm going to try the garlic method for cooking beans. I like the idea of cooking my own beans, and have also wondered about the frugality of such long cooking times. I also like the idea of being able to control the salt vs buying canned beans and rinsing off some of the salt. Carol

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January 5, 20100 found this helpful

Thank you for this great tip on cooking beans. I love beans :)

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