Cooking Dried Beans

Cooking dried beans is not nearly as complex as many people seem to believe, but there are ways to make the task quicker and easier.

Dried beans can take a really long time to cook if you just pour them into boiling water and wait for them to get tender.  It's much quicker if you either soak the beans, use a pressure cooker, or both.

If you don't own a pressure cooker, simply soak washed beans overnight or for a full day.  Different beans require different cooking and soaking periods.  Directions are usually either marked on the bag or can be easily found on the Internet or a basic cookbook.

Rinse and pick over the beans, and then cook.

Pressure cookers are not the same dangerous apparatus you remember from the '70s.  If you have an old one, get rid of it.  There are inexpensive ones on the market today and it's worth a few bucks to avoid cooking with a cracked seal.

Pressure cookers are an eco-friendly choice because they significantly decrease the amount of energy needed to prepare food.  You simply bring the liquid, spices, and beans up to a boil and then decrease the temperature once steam comes out.  Your pressure cooker will have directions, which will normally include instructions on cooking various types of beans.

I find I have to nearly double the cooking times listed on bean packages and my pressure cooker instructions.  Make note of cooking times so your beans come out just right next time.

Remember, use the cooking liquid to flavor your beans.  Use beer, wine, spices, garlic cloves, whole carrots, limes, or anything you like to add flavor.  You may wish to add additional flavorings after the cooking is done, depending upon your recipe.