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Cooking Dry Beans

October 19, 2013
The benefits to cooking using dry beans over canned ones is substantial. Not only are there additional nutrients and fiber within dried beans that are cooked out during the canning process, but there is also additional flavors. Beans that are dry are able to absorb the moisture from the dish of which you are using them, whereas canned beans have already absorbed most of the liquid in which they were processed. Grabbing a bag of dry beans can be daunting, so here is an easy method of getting them from store to table!

Sort: Arrange dried beans on a sheet pan or clean kitchen towel and sort through them to pick out any shriveled or broken beans, stones or debris. (Take my word for it; running your fingers through the beans in the bag doesn't work the same.)

Rinse: Rinse the sorted beans well in cold, running water.

Soak: Soaking beans before cooking helps to remove some of those indigestible sugars that cause flatulence. There are two simple ways to get the job done:

Regular soak: Put beans into a large bowl and cover with 2 to 3 inches of cool, clean water. Set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight; drain well. (If it's really warm in your kitchen, soak the beans in the refrigerator instead to avoid fermentation.)

Quick soak: Put beans into a large pot and cover with 2 to 3 inches of cool, clean water. Bring to a boil then boil briskly for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover and set aside off of the heat for 1 hour; drain well.

Cook: Put beans into a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water or stock. (Don't add salt at this point since that slows the beans' softening.) Slowly bring to a boil, skimming off any foam on the surface. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if necessary, until beans are tender when mashed or pierced with a fork. Cooking times vary with the variety, age and size of beans; generally you're looking at about 1 to 2 hours.

Happy Eating!

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