Do you eat a lot of beans? If you’re flexitarian, vegetarian, vegan or on a tight budget, you likely include dried beans in your daily meals one way or another. If you buy canned beans, you’ve probably thought about cooking them from scratch to save money and reduce waste. Right? Guess what. Cooking dried beans from scratch is easier than you might think. No soaking involved.
That’s right. You don’t need to soak your beans overnight. Just clean them, check for twigs or pebbles, (No fun biting into one of those!), pop them into a pot of boiling water, cover, turn the heat to simmer, and in two or three hours, you have nutritious, delicious beans, rich in fiber, proteins and B vitamins. Plus, you get to count them as a vegetable in your dietary plan.
Why don’t I soak my beans?
You’ve probably heard you need to soak beans to avoid digestive bloating or for a whole slew of other reasons. If I had to soak my beans, I’d likely never get around to cooking them. It’s that simple. Fortunately, back in the 70s, when I was a young bride, a nutritionist named Adele Davis published a cookbook, Let’s Cook It Right, in which she cited studies that showed little or no benefit to soaking dried beans.
Davis believed soaking decreases nutrients and possibly increases the, ahem, gas factor. Being a lazy cook then, I was happy for an excuse not to soak, but I’m doing some research now to see if her theories hold true today. I’ll share what I learn in an upcoming post. One thing is certain, here at Chez Grace, we do not experience bloating or digestive issues with our unsoaked, homecooked beans.
We do gain a good deal, though, in avoiding the cans and starting from scratch. Here are just a few reasons we prefer dried beans we cook ourselves.
Save money, waste less, superior taste
Why cook dried beans at home when it’s so easy to open a can? Cost leaps to mind immediately, of course. Dried beans weigh extra light on the pocket book. The truth is, here in our house, taste matters more. I don’t know why fresh-cooked beans taste better, but you’ll often see us on bean-cooking day filling a ramekin hot from the bean pot and eating those unadorned morsels standing right there in the kitchen.
After flavor and cost savings, I prefer home-cooked beans because I can adjust their texture for the recipes I plan to use with them. Destined for burritos? I’ll add a little extra water and cook them up mashable tender. Planning a soup, chili or salad toppings? I’ll add just enough water for absorption so the beans cook firmly tender with little extra juice.
Enough with the why. Let’s get to the how.
How to cook dried beans on the stove top without pre-soaking
Got a lazy afternoon at home? (As if, right?) Take ten minutes to set a pot of water boiling while you cull and clean a few cups of dried beans. Set them to simmering, then sit down with a cup of tea and a good book or, if you’re in cleaning mood, tackle the upholstery, wash the curtains or, heck, paint the bathroom.
The beauty of this method is that you can make beans any time you have two or three hours lead time. White beans, brown beans, black beans, pintos, chick peas (garbanzos), kidneys–all the same. It takes 2-3 hours start to finish, but only about ten minutes prep time–just long enough to wash and sort the beans for culls and pebbles while the water comes to a boil. Did I mention, no soaking?
Why cull? I’ll show you. That batch of baby limas, above, looked positively pristine, but buried within that pile I found two tiny black rocks. You can see them there. Pebbles can break teeth! Black ones are easy enough to find in white beans, but always look carefully for twigs or pebbles that blend in with your beans. Difficult to spot, easy to miss.
What you need for best stove-top results
A sturdy cast-iron bean pot heats evenly. While you can prepare stove-top beans in any heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, I prefer my cast iron bean pot. I’ve had it since my oldest child was a baby. She’s in her forties now! They last forever.
That isn’t the lid that came with mine. I broke the glass lid in one of our moves, and I miss it, because I so enjoyed watching the beans simmer. Still, lucky for me one cast-iron pan maker still sells parts. Couldn’t find a glass lid that fit, but this solid cast iron lid does the job and will never break.
Got a pot with a lid and some beans? Let’s cook ’em.
Stove-top dried beans from scratch
How to cook dried beans from scratch on the stove top
This recipe works equally well for garbanzos, blacks, reds, pintos, kidneys, whites, even favas, limas and Great Northerns. Above, you see a mixture of pinto and black beans. Mix beans however you like. Pintos and blacks go especially well together.
Cooking more? Two cups dried beans, when cooked, fill my bean pot. If you have a larger pot and want to cook more beans, add two cups water for every one cup of dried beans. Here’s the bean-to-water ratio.
1 C dried beans : 2 C water
- 2 C whole organic dried beans, washed
- 4 C water
- Bring 4 cups water to full boil in a heavy saucepan or bean pot.
- Meanwhile, sort the beans, checking for pebbles and other debris, wash and drain.
- Slowly add beans to boiling water, a spoonful at a time, so the water does not stop boiling. A large slotted spoon works well for this.
- Reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer continuously until tender, approximately 2-3 hours, depending on age of beans (the older they are, the longer they take to cook) and how tender you want them.
Delicious warm straight from the pot, sprinkled with grated cheese. Serve with crudités and pico de gallo, cole slaw or a tossed green salad. Refrigerate remainder for up to 6 days and use in wraps, salads, soups, stews, chili, dips, or freeze for later use.
This is a YayYay’s Kitchen original recipe. Please link back to this page if you base a recipe of your own on this one.
Try these beans in my easy cheesy bean dip recipe
This cheesy bean dip is super easy to make, and wonderfully versatile. Use it wherever you might use refried beans.
More to come
This is the first in a series of articles I’m writing on the humble bean and its place in our kitchens and on our tables. I’ll share more about the reasons I cook ’em from scratch, explore that soaking question in depth and reveal ways we keep the bean–ubiquitous in our diet–so appetizing that bean cooking day always puts a smile on our faces. Finally, I’ll show you how my 6-in-1 cooker makes preparing these little charmers even easier. What questions about cooking with beans would you like to see answered here?
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Dear Reader: This article draws on one titled “How to Cook Dried Black Beans from Scratch and Ways to Use Them,” which I first published in April 2014, under the user name graceonline on the now-defunct site Squidoo. In August 2014, HubPages, where I am known as ecogranny, bought Squidoo. I opted to have my Squidoo pages, including that how-to guide, transferred to the new site. Now, in June 2017, I’ve revised it significantly and brought it home–to YayYay’s Kitchen.