How to Make Beans

Beans are one my favorite foods to cook from scratch. Like a lot of people, I wasn’t sure how to cook dried beans and it seemed intimidating. Once I tried it, I realized how easy it can be!

I did a trek across Taipei city to Trinity Indian Store, which is known for their selection of dried beans and lentils. If you can’t find dried beans near you, check the local Indian markets. I quickly scooped up 5 different bags of beans, such as chickpeas, black beans and kidney beans. Along with a new adventure, beans cooked from scratch taste fresher, save you money, and have less sodium and preservatives.

So, how does one cook dried beans? Here is what I’ve found works the best.

Step 1: Sort and Rinse the Beans

  • After you’ve chosen your beans, sort through and rinse the beans really well in a colander to remove any debris or film that may be on the beans.
  • When choosing your beans, remember to also think about how many beans you want.  If you’ll be storing or freezing them after cooking, which I explain later, feel free to cook larger amounts.  If not, maybe you want to reduce the amount.  Just remember they double in size, so if you won’t be storing them you will have a lot of beans on your hands.

Step 2: Pre-Soak the Beans

Pre-soaking beans reduces cooking time because it rehydrates the beans. Word on the street is that it also makes the beans easier to digest, because it breaks down unhealthy lectins in the plants.

You have two choices for pre-soaking. You can either soak the beans for a longer period of time, or you can do a quick soak.

  • Long Soak: Soaking the beans for 8 hours or overnight is really easy because it cuts down on cooking time.  You put them into a sealable container, cover them with water, seal ’em up and they are ready the next day.  It is not recommended to soak them for longer than 8 hours.
  • Quick Soak: Sometimes you don’t realize you want beans for lunch or dinner that day and you need to make up a batch.  Throw them in a pot, cover them with 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil.  Once they are boiling, cover them with a lid, remove them from the heat and let them sit for one hour.

Put them in a container without water in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. Only leave them for a day or two before cooking.

Step 3: Cooking the Beans

Cooking beans takes a bit of time, so give yourself an hour or two depending on the type of bean. I found black beans take a bit longer. Also, make sure you thoroughly cook them. I’ve left a few al dente thinking I’d enjoy a bit crunchier of a bean in my meals and not once has this worked out. It’s all a preference, but make sure they are nice and soft without being mushy.

  • After soaking the beans, strain them in a colander and discard the water. Some people cook with the same water, but I don’t. There are many debates you can research on the subject if you’re interested though.
  • Put the beans in a pot and cover them with two inches of water. I also add bay leaves for a little extra flavor. I don’t add salt, but again there are many debates on this if you want to look it up. Bring the beans to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and partly cover with a lid. Let them cook until they are soft. Most beans we’ve cooked with have taken about an hour. So give yourself some time.
  • Once the beans are cooked, you can store them in the fridge for up to five days. Check them and make sure they still smell good/ don’t have a slimy consistency before you eat them. Some people cover their beans with water in a container when storing them, but we do not do this. Alternatively you can freeze them for up to six months in a freezer-safe container until ready to use.

There are so many resources available on how to cook dried beans! Please let me know about any tips or additions you would make to our high-level overview we’ve given here. If you don’t have any experience, let me know how it goes if you try it. I think you’ll love the fresh feeling of adding your own cooked beans to your meals.