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Cooking With Dried Beans

Beans, beans, the frugal fruit, the more you eat them, the more you save money! Actually beans are a legume but there is no question that they are a frugal staple in any diet.


Using Dried Legumes (Beans and Peas)

The great thing about dry beans is that they can be bought in bulk and stored for a long time. They are also both healthy and versatile. For a profile of all the nutrition benefits of beans check out the Northwest Harvest Bean Association website:

Cooked vs Uncooked

As a general rule, 1 cup of dried beans or peas will expand to 2 to 3 cups cooked.

Preparing Dried Beans and Peas

Spread the beans you plan to cook out on a cookie sheet. Remove any debris, empty shells or discolored beans. Then put the beans in a colander or strainer and rinse.

Soaking Dried Beans and Peas

You can reduce the cooking time of beans by pre-soaking them. The legumes that don't require pre-soaking are lentils, split peas, black-eyed peas and mung beans.


Quick Soak - Add 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans that you wish to soak. Bring the water to a rapid boil and then remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour before using. Don't boil the beans for too long or you may damage the skins.

Overnight Soak - Add 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans that you wish to soak. Soak beans overnight. Overnight soaking of beans will make them more digestible so less intestinal gas is usually produced after you eat them.

Cooking Beans and Peas

1. Discard the soaking water and rinse. You can always use it for plant water.

2. Add 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans. Add 1 tablespoon of oil or other fat to reduce foaming during cooking.

3. Bring beans or peas to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tender. Simmer gently to prevent skins from bursting. Stir occasionally.


4. Beans and peas are done when they are tender and soft to the touch. They can take between 1 1/2 to 3 hours to cook depending on the size and type of bean. Peas take about an hour. Set a time timer and check them every 15 to 30 minutes. Hard water, altitude and the age of the beans may effect bean cooking times.

5. Drain beans immediately after they reach their desire tenderness to halt the cooking process.

More Cooking Tips from the NBGA

  • Onions may be added at any time during the cooking process. For a stronger onion flavor, add them during the last half-hour of cooking.

  • Herbs and spices like oregano, parsley, thyme and garlic may be added at any time during cooking.

  • Add salt only after beans are cooked to tender. If added before, salt may cause bean skins to become impermeable, halting the tenderizing process.

  • Add lemon juice, vinegar, tomatoes, chili sauce, catsup, molasses or wine after beans have been soaked and are fully cooked. Wait to add these and other ingredients rich in calcium or acids. They can prevent beans from becoming tender.

  • Do not add baking soda to beans at any time. Baking soda robs the beans of the B-vitamin thiamin and may affect the flavor of the cooked beans.

Source: Northwest Bean Growers Association

Storing Dried Beans and Peas

Store dried beans and peas in an airtight (covered) container. Store in a cool, dry area.

About The Author: Sources: Northwest Bean Growers Association, The Garden of Earlthy Delights Cookbook by Shea MacKenzie and the University of Illinois Extension.

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By carolyn Choi (Guest Post)
May 19, 20060 found this helpful

By soaking the dried beans with fresh ginger slices, the gas producing thingys can be eliminated. After draining the soaking water and ginger slices, then cook with new water and fresh ginger slices. works like a charm.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
May 20, 20060 found this helpful

Beans are great and a wonderful source of protein! I love to make a pot of Great Northern Beans & Ham....yum! We love canned beans too but fixing from dry is not hard at all and really better. A 1 lb pkg of beans is cheap....less than I dollar and with some seasonings and a little meat, you have a tasty, healthy and cheap meal!

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By VelvetSkye (Guest Post)
May 20, 20060 found this helpful

Regardless of soaking the beans the night before and cooking for hours on end, my beans are always hard when I try to cook them from dry beans. What am I doing wrong?

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
July 2, 20060 found this helpful

Velvet - it's probably salt that's the culprit. Try cooking them with all the seasonings that you usually use but don't salt them until they are done and ready to serve and see if that helps.


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