Forgot to soak your beans overnight? Try this technique for cooking beans without soaking, and learn a few other methods for how to prepare beans.
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Beans are one of the most versatile foods. Not only are they extremely healthy, but they’re also easy to prepare and store, and they’re delicious! They’ve also been around for a long time, and beans of various types have been a staple food in many cultures throughout much of history. They’ve even been found in the tombs of pharaohs!
Beans are one of my favorite foods. I love them in chili, soup, Mexican dishes, and especially with a slow-simmered venison roast and cornbread. If you’ve never prepared beans from scratch, you’re in for a treat. Homemade beans are much better than store-bought — although those can be used in a pinch — and they’re easy to prepare. Just follow a few special techniques to ensure you have delicious, tender beans every time.
Cooking Beans Without Soaking
First, make certain to soak and drain your beans. Many people believe this will remove much of the flatulence-causing sugar that gives beans a bad name and, in my opinion, soaking will make them taste much better. An overnight soak in salt water is great if you have time. If not, add your dry beans to a large pot and cover them with twice the amount of water as there are beans. Add a teaspoon of salt, and bring the water to a rolling boil. Cover the pot, and turn off the stove. Allow the beans to soak for 1 hour. Drain off the soaking water, and then the beans will be ready to cook. You can also freeze your beans after soaking and they’ll cook much faster!
If you can’t soak your beans, cook them using a pressure cooker or an electric pressure cooker for 10 minutes. Drain off the water, add plenty of fresh water and any desired seasoning, and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. A slow cooker or a heavy pot on the stove will also work well to finish beans. Just watch them closely and add water as needed. Beans should be very tender when done. Avoid cooking them on a high-heat stove, which can lead to boil-overs and scorched beans.
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Canning Cooked Beans
You can also can beans so you have a stockpile of ready-to-use food that doesn’t need to be frozen or refrigerated. Before canning, soak your beans overnight and then rinse and drain them. After soaking, boil the beans in a large stockpot for 30 minutes and then drain the water off.
Wash your canning jars and lids in hot, soapy water and rinse well. Keep them hot until you’re ready to fill them. Fill the hot jars with beans up to about the top of the shoulder. Add boiling water, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Then, add salt at the amount of 1 teaspoon per quart and 1/2 teaspoon per pint. Next, remove any air bubbles by gently pushing a wooden skewer or knife along the inside edges of the jars. Wipe the jar rims with a vinegar-soaked cloth, and place hot lids and rings on the jars and finger-tighten.
Follow the directions in your pressure-canner manual for adding water to the canner and correctly assembling all the parts, as well as for altitude variations. Can your jars at 11 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes for quarts or 75 minutes for pints, checking for altitude variations. Once the pressure has dropped naturally and you’ve removed the weight, let the jars sit in the canner for an additional 10 minutes. Then, carefully remove the jars and allow them to sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seals, and immediately eat anything that didn’t seal properly. Label your jars, and store them in a cool, dry place.
Now, it’s time to put those beans to work! Feel free to swap out my suggested types of beans for whatever you like.
Spill the Beans
It’s no secret: Beans are a budget-friendly kitchen staple full of flavor and nutrition. As the weather cools down, warm up with these deliciously simple dishes that feature the humble dry bean.
Jenny Underwood is a home-schooling mom on a fifth-generation farm in the Missouri Ozarks, where she gardens, forages, hunts, and preserves food. Follow her at Inconvenient Family.
Ask five people how to cook beans that you purchased dried, and you'll probably get five different answers. Some people will tell you dried beans take 90 minutes; others will tell you to start a day ahead. And don't even get these people started on adding salt to the simmering pot—it's either completely disastrous or utterly necessary, depending on who you talk to.
When these debates started happening within our own ranks awhile back, we took the conversation where it belongs: to the kitchen. Grabbing a dozen bags of pinto beans (Goya, if you must know), we started cooking, covering a half-pound of dried beans in 8 cups of water, bringing them to a boil, then reducing to a simmer until tender. Twelve pots of beans, and so many burrito bowls later, we'd broken a few bean skins, busted a few myths, and settled on a few official Epicurious E-pinions.
9 Meals, 1 Pot of Beans
Myth 1: Dry Beans Must Be Soaked
Do you actually need to soak your beans? The idea behind soaking dried beans is that it makes the beans faster to cook. (It's also thought that soaking beans breaks down some of the complex sugars that make them hard for some people to digest. We didn't test for digestability, because every stomach is different.) Testing this theory was simple: we covered one batch of beans in water and left it out on the counter to soak overnight. The next day we placed the beans and liquid in a pot, and in a second pot went unsoaked beans and fresh water. The soaked beans finished cooking first—but the unsoaked pinto beans were finished just 10 minutes later. (Keep in mind that pinto beans are small, and that cooking times will vary depending on bean type.) Our feeling: Why bother?
Takeaway: Don't bother soaking beans.
Myth 2: Dry Beans Must Be Cooked in Fresh Water
After our first test, this myth became a moot point—if you don't soak your beans, you're always going to cook in fresh water. But diehard bean soakers will still want to know whether they should drain their soaked beans and refill the pot with fresh water, or cook their beans in the water they were soaked in. When we tested this, the beans cooked in the soaking liquid were much more flavorful, had a prettier, darker color, and retained their texture better.
Takeaway: You still don't have to soak. But if you do soak the beans, don't throw out the water. Just cook beans in their soaking liquid.
Myth 3: If You Don't Soak Overnight, You Should at Least Quick-Soak
Man, people are just really attached to this soaking idea. If it's not an overnight soak, it's the so-called quick soak: a method where you cover beans in water, bring them to a boil, turn off the heat, and then let the beans sit in the water for an hour. We tried this method, and although the cooking time didn't vary much (the quick-soaked beans cooked just 5 minutes faster than the overnight soaked ones and 15 minutes faster than the no-soak beans), the flavor was our favorite of the bunch.
Takeaway: Quick-soak. But do it for the flavor.
Myth 4: Always Cook Beans With the Lid On
If you cook beans without a lid, some say, the result will be a firmer bean. Keeping the lid on? Your beans will be creamy. When we tested both methods, we found the beans with the lid cooked about 15 minutes faster, but the flavor of the beans cooked with the lid off was much better. This is because the liquid reduced more, creating a more flavorful bean broth that coated the beans.
Takeaway: Leave the lid off.
Myth 5: Cooking Beans in the Oven Is Easier
Cooking dried beans is simple, but we heard that the process could be simplified even more by placing the pot in the oven. So we brought some beans to a boil on the stovetop, then placed them in a 325°F oven. The beans ended up pretty creamy, but they took much longer to cook, and they didn't taste very good—according to my colleague Anna Stockwell, they tasted "water-logged." Makes sense: the water in the pot had barely reduced.
Takeaway: Unless you're making baked beans, keep them on the stovetop.
Myth 6: Salted Beans Take Longer to Cook—If They Ever Finish Cooking at All
One of the most persistent myths about how to cook dried beans involves salt. Some recipes advise not to add salt until the very end of cooking, because salt keeps beans from getting tender. Other recipes say to add it in the beginning, because, well, salt is flavor, and we're going to eat these beans, aren't we? In our test, we compared a batch cooked with salt added at the beginning against a batch made with salt added at the end, and guess what? The beans that were salted early on were more tender.
Takeaway: Salt early and often.
When you have too many beans on hand, there's only one solution. Hummus
When you have too many beans on hand, there's only one solution. HummusPhoto by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Katherine Sacks
The Best Way to Cook Dried Beans, According to Our Findings
For the Epi Test Kitchen, the results were clear. Quick-soaking the beans, salting them at the beginning of cooking, and cooking in a pot without a lid resulted in beans with great texture and a flavorful broth. Here's how to cook dried beans, step by step.
1. Quick-Soak the Beans
Place 1 lb. dried pinto beans in a large, heavy pot. Add water until it's about 2 inches above the top of beans. Cover pot, bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Let rest 1 hour.
2. Salt and Simmer the Beans
Stir in 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt (and flavorings if you'd like, see below) and bring to a boil over medium heat. Uncover, reduce heat, and simmer until beans are tender and creamy, checking after 1 hour and adding more water as necessary to keep beans submerged, 1–1 1/2 hours total.
3. Add Flavorings, If You Want
Of course the above is the bare minimum. To turn out really flavorful beans, you may want to add a halved onion or tomato, or a few garlic cloves to the pot, along with the salt. A dried chile is a nice way to give your beans some heat (fish it out once the beans are done). You could also add herbs, like bay leaves (1 or 2 leaves per pound of beans) or a dash of dried oregano—fresh sprigs are good too, such as rosemary, thyme, or marjoram. The rind from a wedge of Parmesan or another hard cheese can give the beans a lot of savory flavor, similar to a ham hock or the ends of a hard sausage—keep these kinds of things in your freezer for your next bean cooking session and you'll have a flavorful pot of creamy, tender beans in no time at all.
Can I cook beans without soaking them?
If you're the impatient, bean-hungry type, you can cook your beans from dry without any soaking at all. Here's the thing: Beans that have not been soaked ahead of time will always take longer to cook, but they will, indeed, cook.
How do you cook beans without soaking on the stove?
How to cook dried beans without soaking.
Rinse dry beans and place in an oven-safe pot..
Fill water to cover beans by two or three inches and add salt..
Cover with a heavy lid and bake for 2 hours at 375°..
Check for doneness with a taste-test; bake longer, in 30-minute increments, if needed..
What to do if you forgot to soak beans overnight?
How to quick soak beans.
Clean and sort them. Rinse your beans in a colander with cool tap water. ... .
Cover with water. ... .
Bring the water to a boil over high heat, leave the pot uncovered and cook the beans for 5 minutes..
Remove pot from the heat and soak the beans. ... .
Drain, rinse, and cook!.
Is 2 hours long enough to soak beans?
Soak for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Discard the soaking water, and rinse again. Place in a pot with 3 inches of water covering the beans, bring to a boil, and turn off heat.