Everything you need to know about dried beans
Look for beans that are uniform in size and have a smooth exterior. A good place to buy them is in a wholefoods store, where you can buy only as little or as much as you need. Store them in an airtight glass or plastic container in a cool, dry location until ready to use.
To prepare, pour the beans into a large colander. Pick through them to remove any pebbles or debris, then rinse the beans.
TO SOAK OR NOT TO SOAK?
It isn’t necessary to presoak dried beans. However, soaking will reduce the cooking time and may help prevent the beans from getting “blown out” or splitting.
To soak, choose a method (below) based on how much time you have.
Transfer rinsed beans to a large bowl or pot and cover with at least 5cm of water. Soak at room temperature, covered, for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
Rinse beans and transfer to a large pot, then cover with at least 5cm of water. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain beans and rinse with cold water.
You can cook beans on the stovetop, in the slow cooker or in a pressure cooker. Cooking times will vary depending on the age and type of bean. As a rule of thumb, taste-test 3-5 beans before determining whether they are done or not.
Beans will cook in nothing but water, but you can also include a few aromatics to add subtle flavour. We like to toss in a bay leaf, a few cloves of garlic, a chopped onion and some freshly cracked pepper.
ON THE STOVETOP
1 Transfer soaked, drained beans to a large pot and cover with at least 5cm of water – use about 2L (8 cups) of water for 450g of beans. Add aromatics, if using.
2 Bring to a boil, skimming off any debris that rises to the surface. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring every 30 minutes or until tender, for 20-45 minutes for lentils or 1-2 hours for beans.
IN THE SLOW COOKER
1 Transfer the soaked, drained beans to a slow cooker and cover with 5 cups of boiling water. Add aromatics, if using.
2 Set the slow cooker to High, cover and cook for 1-3 hours 30 minutes. ➤