Want to add more fiber, folate and iron to your diet at a cheap price, but are scared to spend years cooking pulses? Well, don’t worry – here you’ll learn how to cook dried beans from scratch and I assure you – it’s super SUPER easy. If I had the ability and patience to do it the other day, I’m pretty sure anyone can do it!
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to not eat canned food. I know it’s cheap, it’s easy and is it really that bad for you? Well, I don’t know. I don’t even buy cans, I mostly get my cooked beans and chickpeas in glass jars. However, the last time I opened one to make a quick and easy soup it tasted and smelled like chemicals. Mmmmm chemicals for dinner!
So I don’t care what random sources say, I trust my nose and tastebuds. I don’t care if it’s BPA-free if it smells like chlorine or another chemical that’s not great for you. So, I’ll be spending some extra time this year soaking and cooking dried beans. And guess what? It’s super easy. Set it and forget it – that kind of easy. You cook a big batch, use some during the week and freeze the rest for rainy days.
You can use the cooked beans to make quick soups, stews, salads…whatever your heart desires. In fact, I’ll share some suggestions below – they call for canned beans, but beans cooked in any way will work.
3 Great Reasons To Cook Dried Beans Instead Of Using Canned
Now, there are probably more than three, but here are some benefits to cooking dried beans from scratch:
- Cooking beans from scratch is usually more nutritious than using canned beans. The cooked beans have more vitamins like folate, less sodium and no preservatives compared to canned beans.
- It’s also SO much cheaper. Like if you cook a bag of beans you’ll get 3-4 cans out of it. At almost the same price.
- They’re accessible. Dried beans can survive long winters in your pantry. As long as you’re able to cook them – you’ll always have something to eat. Now canned varieties can do that too, but they do tend to have a shorter shelf life and are more sensitive to light and temperature, much like gremlins. Or vampires.
Prepare the Beans
Before you start to cook the dried beans, go back in time to yesterday and go through your beans. Spread them out on a baking sheet or on your table (clean it later!) and make sure there are no mini rocks, dirt and things that can hurt you while you’re eating the beans.
Next, soak your dried beans with triple the amount of fresh water. Use a large pot or bowl, because your beans will double, if not triple in size overnight.
I highly recommend soaking the beans before cooking, because this helps to activate the nutrients in them and to remove the anti-nutrients like phytic acid. These anti-nutrients are basically stuck to essential trace elements like iron and zinc in beans, so that your body can’t absorb and use them. But once you soak and cook the beans – you release the trace elements from the prison hug of the antinutrients. For even better absorption, make sure to eat your beans with vitamin C rich foods like lemon juice, bell peppers, broccoli or even salad.
Beans Cooking Time
The cooking time of dried beans will depend on their variety, size and storage time.
In general, beans that have been stored longer are almost like a rock and need longer cooking times.
If they’re bigger – again longer cooking times.
Soaking them will reduce the cooking time.
Adding something acidic like tomatoes at the beginning might prolong it.
These are a few things to keep in mind. In general, it’s good to read the instructions on the label before cooking – usually it says how long the variety needs to cook.
Furthermore, make sure to check on your beans after about 30-40 minutes of simmering. You don’t need to taste them – try to mash one with a fork. This will tell you whether the beans are still crunchy or have cooked all the way through.
How To Cook Dried Beans From Scratch
Now, let’s get into it! Let’s learn how to cook dried beans from scratch. Well, you already did soak them, so great job so far!
Once you’re ready to cook the beans, discard the soaking water and rinse them.
Place the beans in a large cooking pot and cover generously with water.
I learned how to put water to cook things from my grandparents and they’d always work with finger measurements. It goes like – “The beans should be covered with about three fingers of water”. If you need more precise measurements – you should add triple the amount of water to the amount of dried beans you originally started with. So if you soaked one cup of beans yesterday – add three cups of water. I usually add a bit more to be on the safe side, because I don’t want to burn my beans.
Then add a good few pinches of salt. The general recommendation here is one tablespoon of salt per pound of beans. That means about a tsp and a half of salt per cup of dried beans. Now, I usually don’t have a lot of salt in my diet and in my experience – I just pinch it and then add more salt once the beans are tender enough to taste test. Because I don’t want to end up with salty beans.
Now, cover the pot with a lid and bring the beans to a boil – this takes around 4-5 minutes. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Sometimes even 2 hours.
After about 35 minutes, and throughout the simmering period, check on the beans. Once you’re able to mash them with a fork or spoon – taste test and adjust for salt and pepper. Add water if needed. To make a soup you can also add in tomato paste, spices, herbs, garlic and onions.
In summary to cook dried beans: soak, salt, boil, simmer! That’s it. It’s all you need to remember when cooking dried pulses, be it beans, chickpeas or lentils.
After They’re Done
After the dried beans have cooked, drain them and use as you would canned beans – in soups, stews, curries, salads or dips. I usually also keep the cooking water to make soup with it.
How To Store
You can store the cooked beans in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. If you want to store them longer, I recommend freezing in ziploc bags or freezer containers for up to a month. Before using them – let thaw for about half an hour and use in stews or soups.
How To Use Cooked Beans
You can use cooked dried beans just like you would canned beans! You can make soups, dips, salads and so much more with them. Here are some great recipes using beans:
- 20-Minute Healthy Bean Soup
- 8-Minute High-Fiber Salad With Beans And Corn
- Black Bean Feta “Meatballs”
- Healthy Chicken Soup With Beans
- Mediterranean Black Bean Salad With Herbs And Feta
More Cooking Tips
Well, now you know how to cook dried beans from scratch! If you want to cook other things as well, here are some other cooking tips to help you out:
- 1 cup dried beans, soak overnight
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- Soak the beans overnight.
- Once you're ready to cook them, discard the soaking water and rinse them.
- Place the beans in a large cooking pot and cover with water.
- Add a good few pinches of salt- the general recommendation here is one tablespoon of salt per pound of beans. That means about a tsp and a half of salt per cup of dried beans. I usually add less salt and just pinch it. If needed you can add more salt once the beans are tender enough to taste test. It's easier to add salt than to remove it once the beans are cooked.
- Now, cover the pot with a lid and bring the beans to a boil - this takes around 4-5 minutes. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Sometimes even 2 hours. Mine usually take around an hour.
- After about 35 minutes, and throughout the simmering period, check on the beans. Once you're able to mash them with a fork or spoon - taste test and adjust for salt and pepper. Add water if needed.
- To make a soup you can also add in tomato paste, spices, herbs, garlic, onions and vegetables of choice.
Nutrition InformationYield 3 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 80Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 1075mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 3gSugar 7gProtein 4g