Cooking Dried Beans

United States
January 5, 2013 4:12pm CST
I'm thinking about cooking a batch of dried beans in my family's slow cooker today. It's rainy and cold and overcast, so I think a nice pot of beans will lift my spirits. There seems to be some debate over whether or not you should soak dried beans before cooking. My mom is a dried bean soaker and pours off the soaking water to eliminate digestive gas. My grandmother was big on not draining the soaking water. She said you lose nutrition that way. I read on the web not long ago that you can simply rinse the dried beans and toss them into the slow cooker and add water to cover, no soaking is necessary after all. I'm not sure which is right or wrong. The soaking time has put me off from sooking dried beans before, because I want them ready to eat as soon as possible. So I plan to use the fastest method, of course, and add semolina spaghetti pasta for a change, and also soy bacon bits, because I am vegetarian working on becoming vegan. I'm looking forward to having my storage bowls stacked in the fridge, filled with a ready to eat nutritious dish, and enjoying some on the spot the moment it is done.
1 person likes this
11 responses
@echoforever (5192)
• United States
6 Jan 13
Beans are a nice meal. They can be done really well with some additives in there but alone they are okay too.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 13
Welcome, echo, and thank you for joining into this discussion. Beans are so wonderful. You can add rice, barley, quinoa or pasta, turn the flavor profile any number of ways to suit your taste or leave them be and still have outstanding flavors and presentations. Peace!
• United States
8 Jan 13
You're right. They can be done in alot of ways, it is a great meal for when you're sick or it is cold out!
1 person likes this
• United States
10 Jan 13
Yep, and while we're getting a break from the cold at the moment, it's rather rainy and stormy. So I put on another pot to soak tonight. This time it's red beans.
@Arieles (2474)
• United States
6 Jan 13
I think the people soak beans for one reason..to eliminate the amount of "gas" they cause you to produce after you eat them. We had beans tonight. I made chili and I always used dried beans anymore. It's a lot cheaper and one bag goes a lot farther than one can at half the cost. We had chili and corn bread and man was it delicious!! I would rinse the beans and sort through them (as my Dad taught me to do) but I don't soak them like he did. I think what ever way you decide to cook them is the right way for you. I enjoy cooking with the crock pot, because it sure does make life a lot easier and the food tastes pretty good too.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 13
Hello, Arieles, and thanks for your kind reply. Gas is indeed an issue with beans. It seems all of us in this discussion share beans in our family heritage, just with variations on cooking methods and seasoning styles. What's your favorite bean dish?
@Arieles (2474)
• United States
6 Jan 13
My favorites are white bean soup or chili! We'll have white beans once this week and we'll have chili again. I like to make corn bread when we're having beans so we can put the beans on top of the bread. Yum.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 13
White beans, chili and cornbread sound delicious! How do you prepare your white beans?
@mariaperalta (19096)
• Mexico
5 Jan 13
We cook beans in mexico all the time. I have for 20 years. The beans will cook faster if you soak them overnight. I always do that to mine. Good luck to you there...
1 person likes this
• United States
5 Jan 13
Hola maria! I will be asking you for Mexican bean recipes someday soon. I'm fascinated with the possibilities. Peace!
1 person likes this
• Mexico
5 Jan 13
ok, sounds good to me. Also see my blog on my profile page here. I have several of my recipe on it here. Take care...
• United States
6 Jan 13
How cool! I have a blog, too, but it's recipes for special diets, like dairy free, gluten free, sugar free, Kosher, vegan and vegetarian, stuff like that.
@Adoniah (7515)
• United States
5 Jan 13
Always wash every food that you can before you cook it or eat it. I never soak beans...I wash them, pick out the yucky ones and then cook them. I think the reason that many soaked them first was because you could soak them overnight and they would be ready to start cooking in the morning for lunch. That meant less heat in the house and less energy used. Years ago, there was no such thing as a modern slow cooker that was efficient and did not heat up the house.
• United States
5 Jan 13
Good afternoon, Adoniah. Washing and picking out undesirable beans is a must. Thanks for your comment.
@Adoniah (7515)
• United States
5 Jan 13
It was a timely Post as I will be cooking a pot of bean soup for some shut ins that I care for...
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 13
Lucky shut-ins!
@marguicha (87907)
• Chile
10 Apr 13
I don`t have a slow cooker so I do exactly the opposite with dry beans. I soak the beans and change the water. Then I place the beans, no salt, no nothing, for 10 minutes in my pressure cooker. That is enough to cook them. After that I can see what I do with the cooked beans. I freeze some as is (and use them later on for several purposes). I love dry beans salad, cooked beands added to minestrone and of course, the normal dish of beans with fried onions, garlic, bacon and sausage if you have some around.
• United States
16 Apr 13
Hey there marguicha, hope all is well. I haven't used a slow cooker in a very long time, so I'd have to relearn the processes in cooking dried beans that way. But I like your ten minute method. That would definitely fit my schedule.
@jambi462 (4598)
• United States
6 Jan 13
My method for cooking dried beans has always been to soak them overnight but it really depends on the kind of bean that you are cooking. I've cooked dried garbanzo beans and they can cook within two hours without any soaking at all. Then there are other beans like black beans that can take forever to soften up even when you soak them over night. I'm pretty sure you can just cook the beans without soaking them but I'm pretty sure it would go faster if you were to soak them.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 13
Welcome, jambi, and thank you for joining in on this discussion. I've never tried garbanzos from dried. And black beans do indeed seem to take forever to tenderize. What are your favorite garbanzo dishes?
@Archie0 (4669)
6 Jan 13
I think what opinions your mother and grandmother gave are more accurate. I too prefer soaking my dried beans overnight or at least 6 hours before cooking them, that way they cook faster and digest well because dried beans cause you constipation if not soaked and cooked well. Also yes we first wash the beans in two water and then soak them and don't discard the soaked water but put it for boiling the beans, trust me this not only holds nutrition but has lot of taste in. So i think you should try the old method. They are tried and trusted after all
• United States
6 Jan 13
Nice to meet you, Archie, and thanks for the informative comment. I had forgotten about the constipation aspect, but it makes sense. Without soaking, beans are simply too dense. Peace!
@RaineC (6)
• United States
6 Jan 13
I always soak them and then drain the water off and add fresh water. It seems like it makes them cook faster and I had trouble the first time I tried to cook them without soaking.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 13
Hey there, RaineC, and thanks for commenting. You cook them the same way my Mom taught me to. I've only tried cooking beans without soaking them first one time, using the slow cooker. They came out ok, but there seemed to be a slight difference in texture, though not objectionable at all. Peace!
@peavey (16108)
• United States
6 Jan 13
Some days seem to just be made for beans! I used to never soak them. I would just dump them in water and boil them until done. They seem to cook faster after a soak, though. I bring them to a boil then turn the heat off and let them set for an hour or two (sometimes overnight), then cook them in the same water. That's for pinto beans. Other types of beans cook faster, so I don't always soak them. One reason I do soak, though, is to save on cooking fuel.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jan 13
Hey peavey, thanks for the response. We just had pinto beans. These are black beans. And yes, you have to be careful with cooking fuel supplies at today's prices. Peace!
• United States
5 Jan 13
I have prepared beans all three ways and found no difference! Presently I like to do the quick soak method. That means I put them on and heat them up to a boil and then let them set for about an hour or two. Then drain the water off and cook them. They seem to cook a little faster that way. But I spent years just dumping them in the cooker and cooking them from the dried state. I think it is just a matter of preference.
• United States
5 Jan 13
How's it going, macdingo? That's a nice fast soak method you have. Unfortunately, with my attention on my writing at the moment, I'm not a very good stove tender. Maybe when I can pay more attention to cooking, I will try that. Have a lovely day.
@yoyo1198 (3644)
• United States
5 Jan 13
I fix dried beans frequently. I've learned to use the fast-soak method. And then I use a pot on the stove rather than the slow cooker. I don't think that pouring off the soaking water or not makes any difference in whether or not you end up with gas. The soaking is mainly to soften the beans so the cooking doesn't take so long. And it's true that you don't have to soak them at all. But the cooking time will be lengthened. You just have to make sure that you add enough water for cooking if you don't soak them.
1 person likes this
• United States
5 Jan 13
Hey yoyo! I think I do remember something about the soaking being for softening as well. I've sprouted beans in school before, even, but that was for gardening. Peace!