Grains & Beans

Grain Cooking Guides


Bean Cooking Tips

Begin by washing beans and discarding any which are discolored or badly formed. Check for debris in the package such as small rocks or twigs and discard them. Beans cook more quickly and their digestibility benefits with soaking in water to cover by about 3 inches (7.5 cm) for 8 hours or overnight. Discard the soak water and cook the beans in fresh water.

Some bean cookery aficionados feel that salt and seasonings added during the cooking tends to make beans cook more slowly. Since beans require lengthy cooking, we recommend adding salt and seasonings during the last few minutes and find they absorb flavor quite readily.
There are other factors which contribute to the length of cooking, such as, hard water and beans that have been dried for a long period of time. For some of the longer cooking beans we have found that soaking 24 hours and changing the soak water 2 or 3 times hastens the cooking time. 

Many people are concerned with the reputation that beans have for causing flatulence. Starting your bean ventures with small amounts helps to increase your body's enzyme production gradually. Soaking and cooking the beans thoroughly helps to break down the complex sugars (oligosaccharides) which challenge our digestive systems.
Some herbs that help the digestion of beans can be added during the cooking process. These include bay leaf, cumin, and winter or summer savory, fresh epazote (available in Hispanic markets). Many people from India maintain the tradition of chewing on dried fennel seeds or drinking a cup of fennel tea at the end of a legume meal to aid the digestion.

  • Rinse beans in cold water.
  • Cover beans with three to four times their volume of water.
  • Soak for at least six hours or overnight (skip the soaking for lentils and split peas, but do rinse them).
  • Discard soaking water. Rinse and add fresh water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered (see cooking chart for cooking times).
  • Add water as needed to keep beans covered. Do not add salt or other seasonings until beans are tender.
  • Try cooking beans with a washed, unpeeled, organic  whole orange. Add the orange to the pot with the beans, cook the beans, and remove and discard the orange when the beans have finished cooking.
  • When cooking beans from scratch, drain the soaking water, rinse the beans well, and cook in clean water.
  • Soak beans overnight in warm water with one tbsp. apple cider vinegar.
  • Always sort looking for stones and rinse the beans before cooking.
  • Cooking time depends on bean freshness. Beans turn out a lot tastier the slower they are cooked.
  • Use three times the amount of water to beans and soak in a cool place. Do not use the bean soaking water unless you want lots of gas.
  • Drain the soaking water, add fresh water, and bring to a boil , skimming the foam off as it forms.
  • When boiling again add a small amount of water around the edges to shock the beans and then bring them back to a boil. Cook with the lid off for the first 10 minutes. Keep the boil at medium.
  • Add a 1/8 of a teaspoon of sea salt, shoyu, or miso, only after the beans are tender (10 minutes before finished), so that the beans cook all the way through.
  • Add 1/2 strip of kombu (sea vegetable) per cup of dried beans to aid in digestion.
  • Add 1 bay leaf per cup of dried beans, if desired, for digestibility also.
  • For a variety of flavors, beans can be cooked with different vegetables. The seasoning with salts and cooking with kombu and vegetables helps balance the acid-forming effects of the beans.
  • Split peas, lentils, black turtles, black soybeans, and soybeans shouldn’t be pressure-cooked  as their skins or the foam will clog the valve.


QUICK-SOAK METHOD: When time is limited, you can wash and pick over beans and put them into a stock pot with water to cover by 3 inches (7.5 cm). Bring to a boil for 10 minutes to remove toxins. Then cover and allow to soak for 1 hour. Discard soak water, add fresh water, and cook until tender. 

PRESSURE COOKING: For pressure-cooking beans you can choose to soak the beans overnight, use the quick-soak method, or forego soaking altogether. There are well-known chefs,  who do not soak beans before pressure-cooking. 
Whether you choose to soak or eliminate that step, put the beans in the pressure cooker with 3 times as much water as beans. Cook at 15 pounds of pressure for 30 minutes for small beans. For large beans, such as limas or fava beans, pressure cook for about 40 minutes. 

COOKING FRESH BEANS: There are two methods of cooking fresh beans: boiling or steaming. 
To boil, drop the shelled beans into boiling water to cover, and boil gently for 5 to 10 minutes. You may want to add some onions, garlic, herbs of your choice, and a dash of salt to the water to flavor the beans. 
To steam, put about an inch of water into the bottom of a saucepan, and place the beans into a steamer basket that fits into the saucepan. Cover the pan, and steam over boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. After fresh fava beans are cooked, their tough skins are usually peeled and discarded. When left on, they give the beans a bitter flavor. To peel the skins, use a small paring knife and peel away one end. Then squeeze the opposite end and the bean will slip out easily.

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