It’s fine to use beans from a can, but it’s very satisfying and inexpensive to cook dried beans from scratch. The method is the same for different kinds of beans; all that changes is the cooking time.
HANDS-ON TIME: 5 MINUTES ❚ TOTAL TIME: 2–10 HOURS ❚ MAKES: 4–5 CUPS
Large, heavy-bottomed pot
Colander or strainer
1 pound dried beans (pinto, black, lima, navy, white, kidney, garbanzo, or any other kind of bean)
- Put the beans in the pot and sort through them, tossing out any shriveled beans, little stones, or twigs.
- Pour cold water into the pot so that the water comes up about 2 inches above the beans, then skim any stray bean skins or bits that float to the top. Depending on how much time you have, do one of these things:
A) Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. When the water boils, turn off theheat, cover the pot, and leave the beans to soak for 1 hour. OR;
B) Cover the pot and leave the beans to soak overnight or all day (at least 8 hours).
- Drain the beans in the colander and rinse them with fresh cold water.
- Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. When the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to low, put the lid on the pot, and simmer the beans (“simmer” means a very gentle boil) until they are tender but not falling apart, 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on what kind of beans you have and how old they are. (Start testing the beans after they’ve been cooking for 30 minutes, and if they seem close, then taste again in another 15 minutes or so. If they don’t seem close, taste in 30 minutes.)
- Once the beans are cooked, drain them in the colander and continue with your recipe, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.
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