Tomorrow is Eat Beans Day! I love the ease of canned beans (open, rinse, ready!), and I still recommend keeping canned beans on hand for "last minute" cooking or convenience when you don't have the time to make beans yourself.
Still, home-cooked beans are great. They cost a fraction of what you'll pay for canned beans, there are no added salts (or anything else... unless you add it), and you can make a big batch passively while you do laundry, watch TV, do homework, etc.
Beans also freeze beautifully — so making a big batch is a good thing!
Now, a confession: I just got into cooking my own beans a few months ago. I'm lazy and a horrible planner, so it was always the same story: I forgot to soak my beans overnight... and/or cook them so they'd be ready for our next meal.
Sometimes beans would soak for days on my counter. Whoops!
I also had the problem of not wanting to stand over my cooking beans so 9 out of 10 (okay, 10 out of 10) times they would "boil over" and make a huge mess. (If you've never had to scrub black bean water off your tile and stove — trust me, this is something you want to avoid at all costs!)
And despite setting a timer, I would also always "forget" I was cooking beans (because it takes hours) and then my beans would overcook, or run out of water and burn... and eventually set off a smoke detector...
(I started to think maybe I should stop writing cookbooks if I can't even manage to cook beans from scratch!)
Then I splurged on an electric pressure cooker and my world changed. No pre-soaking required! No standing over the stove! No having to check on anything! I can just put the beans in, set it, and go.
An hour or so later, they're done! And even if I forget, that's okay, because the pressure cooker stops cooking and keeps me safe from myself.
BUT you don't have to have a pressure cooker. The stove top works just as well and you can use a slow cooker too.
Here's an old video (2+ years ago) of me cooking beans on the stove in my tiny NYC apartment — proof that I *can* cook beans the old fashioned way
(*If you get HH blog posts via email delivery, please note that videos are only viewable on the blog or directly at YouTube (sorry, you can't embed video into email):
How to Soak Beans:
Unless you're using a pressure cooker, you'll need to soak your beans first. There are two methods:
1. Slow Soak (most common): Put 1 pound of dried beans in a pot with 10 cups of water. Cover and let soak for 6-8 hours, preferably overnight.
2. Quick Soak: Boil 10 cups of water. Add 1 pound of beans and return to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Cover and remove from heat for 1-3 hours.
After your beans have soaked, drain off the soaking water and rinse the beans. You want new, fresh water for cooking your beans. Also look for any beans that are broken or debris that may have floated to the top and discard.
Cooking Beans in a Slow Cooker:Add soaked beans to the slow cooker with fresh water that covers the beans, plus another inch. Slow cook for 8 hours, checking every hour on the hour (after the 4 hour mark) to make sure you don't overcook the beans.
Cooking Beans on the Stove Top:Add soaked beans to a large pot and add enough water to cover the beans plus another inch. When in doubt, more water is better than less. Bring to a boil for 15 minutes. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender, 1-2 hours typically.
Cooking Beans in a Pressure Cooker:See your manual, as it varies between cooker and bean. With my pressure cooker, most beans are done in 20 minutes, followed by natural pressure release.
Black eyed-peas and lentils do not require soaking.
Kidney beans should be precooked if using a slow cooker to ensure safety. As little as 4 undercooked kidney beans can cause severe symptoms and undercooked kidney beans are more toxic than raw kidney beans. (You don't run this same risk with the stove top or pressure cooker methods).
How to Freeze Beans:
Once beans are room temp, place into freezer-safe storage and freeze. Reheat for 30-seconds to a minute in the microwave, or with a splash of water or broth on the stove top.
Celebrate Eat Beans Day tomorrow by trying one of these methods! What's your favorite way to enjoy beans?