How to Cook Dry Beans for Better Flavor and Less Gas
Is your refrigerator full of ready to eat weight loss food?
Cooking beans yourself is satisfying way to fill your fridge (and stomach!) with a delicious weight loss food.
Beans are a super Full Plate superfood.
You can fill up with a ton of beans. And still lose weight.
By properly cooking dry beans you can reduce the gas they cause and enhance their flavor.
It’s easy and cheap to cook a week’s worth at a time.
What can I do about the gas?
If you enjoy passing gas. Beans can make you a first chair trumpeter.
But only for a couple weeks. Your body quickly adapts if you eat beans regularly.
To reduce gas faster, soak the beans and discard the soaking water before cooking them. Just like we’ll learn below.
Advantages over canned beans
Canned beans are cheap.
Dry beans are about 60% cheaper.
Canned beans are usually packed with salt.
You control the salt when you cook beans yourself.
You’ll learn dry beans taste much better because you can flavor them as you cook them.
One 2 pound bag of dry beans results in about 10 cups of cooked beans. That’s about the same as 6 cans.
It’s not hard to cook dry beans if you plan ahead.
Here’s How to Cook Dry Beans
The Basic Idea
Here’s the no-nonsense overview. Read below for details with pictures.
- Sort out the bad beans (photos below)
- Soak the beans overnight or 8+ hours
- Resist the urge to stir a lot
- Pour off soaking water, add fresh water
- Season by adding with fresh vegetables, like a carrot, ½ an onion, some rosemary, celery.
- Do not salt.
- Cook for an hour or more until tender.
- If desired, salt to taste after they can be easily smashed between two fingers.
- Remove the seasoning vegetables.
- Consume or cool and store.
Step By Step Instructions for Cooking Dry Beans
Will this take forever?
Cooking beans this way takes about half a day but it’s multi-tasking time. You only have to be engaged for about 20 minutes of the process including washing up. If you set timers, you can easily tend the beans while doing other Sunday afternoon projects.
Grab a bag of Dry Beans
Dry beans are usually found on the grain or rice aisle of the grocery store.
Get your bag of dry beans and a cookie sheet. The cookie sheet is for culling the beans. You don’t have to use a cookie sheet, but I’ve found it helps keep them contained.
Quickly sort the beans from one side to the other picking out the really shriveled or crushed ones. Don't stress over this too much. Do it quickly.
Dry beans usually have a small hand full of really dry beans or even rocks.
Soak Them Overnight
There are lots of methods and shortcuts for cooking without a soak. But an 8+ hour soak is the best way to ensure they’ll cook evenly and all the way through. And how cool is it to be checking something off your to-do list while you’re sleeping!
Grab a large pot.
Put the beans in.
Add water. Plenty of water. The beans are going to soak it up and expand. If you want to be precise, use four times the amount of water as you have beans.
Go to bed. Or if you’ve already had your beauty rest, come back in about 8+ hours. Drain the soaking water off of the beans.
Did I really need to soak the beans?
Soaking is really important for people learning to eat more beans, because it helps with gas. The soaking water absorbs some of the gas causing “complex sugars.” It also helps clean the beans because they’re pretty dirty.
So it’s important to discard the water. Extra points for watering a plant with it.
If you’re in a hurry, and not worried about gas or dirt, there are lots of no-soak or quick soak methods for cooking beans. See below.
Fill’er up, again. And cover with extra water. The beans will likely expand even a little more.
Assemble a rich flavorful stock to cook your beans in
Grab the extra veggies you have and stick them in the water with the beans. This time we cut a fresh branch of rosemary, and half an onion.
Veggies and spices that add great flavor:
- carrots, put the whole thing in
- celery - this is a great way to use the tops of celery
- cumin - found in the spice aisle
- bay leaves
30 Seconds of Boiling
Crank up the heat. Hang around until it’s boiling pretty well. Resist the urge to stir. If it threatens to boil over, lift it up off the heat instead of stirring.
The slow cook
Turn the heat way down once your beans have boiled for a moment or two.
The heat should be as low as possible and still have the water barely moving.
This part can’t be rushed. If you’re tempted to crank up the heat, you’ll be punished with disintegrating beans and they won’t get done any faster.
Should I cook beans with the lid on?
The top can control the firmness of the beans. Lid on for:
- And just plain delicious creamy beans.
Lid off for firmer beans good in:
- Cold salads
- And pasta.
Come back to check on them in about an hour. They may or may not be done.
How to tell if beans are done
Perfectly cooked, al dente beans should be tender and soft while retaining their shape and structure. They should quish easily between two fingers. Careful, they’re hot.
Taste them. If they taste a little like dry football shaped cardboard let them go another ten or fifteen minutes.
Old or large beans can take longer. Just keep them simmering until they’re soft.
When to Salt
Not at the beginning. Salt in the cooking water actually slows the cooking process and makes you crazy. Because it seems like they’ll never get soft.
The best time to add a little salt, is about 15 minutes before they’re done.
Of course you can skip this step and salt to taste at the table.
Beans are delicate souls. Stirring often roughs them up and turns them into a soupy mess. Sometimes stirring is necessary to ensure even cooking. Just be careful not to stir too often.
How to Store Cooked Beans
Cool and refrigerate them in their cooking water for eating this week. Or:
Beans freeze just fine
Pack beans for the freezer in the size container you plan on using. If you’re taking them for lunch, use them instead of ice to keep your lunch box cool. By lunch time, they’ll be ready after a 3 minute zap in the microwave.
OK, I’ve cooked my beans now what?
Here’s a few ways to enjoy beans. If you have a favorite way or recipe, please share it with others in the comments.
- Beans are a secret weapon for making salads satisfying
- Burritos of course
- Make them into hummus
- Many soups are based on beans
- Serve them as a fantastic side dish
- Blend them with garlic, olive oil, salt, and artichokes for a fabulous bread spread
But my favorite way to eat these white beans is by the spoonful with a slight drizzle of olive oil and dusting of salt and pepper.
So, what kind of bean should I buy?
The type of bean doesn’t really matter. This cooking method should work for any dry bean. Here are some of the popular beans. Try a new bean each week:
- Pinto Beans
- Navy Beans
- Black Beans
- Garbanzo Beans also known as Chick Peas
- Cannellini Beans
- Kidney Beans
Other Bean Cooking Methods and Resources
Remember soaking helps to reduce gas.
- How to Cook Beans in a Slow Cooker
- How To Cook Beans on the Stove
- No-soak Oven Beans
- Quicker Oven Beans
- Bean Cookin’ 101
Ready to learn to love beans? Here's 50 bean recipes to try.
Please spill the beans in the comments.
Full Plate Living is a small-step approach with big health outcomes. It's provided as a free service of Ardmore Institute of Health.