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Basic Beans

Cooking dried beans can be a challenge if you’ve never done it before, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you ever thought it was hard. Here’s my foolproof method for brainless bean cooking. Smaller legumes such as split peas and lentils will get pretty well pulverized using this method, so if that’s not your desired result try using the Small Beans recipe for them.



1 pound dried beans (any variety)

2 quarts of water (or enough to fill the slow cooker to 2 inches below the top)

Salt or bullion to taste (optional)



Start by sorting through the beans to remove any clods of dirt, moldy, shriveled or otherwise suspicious looking bean. You can pour them into a shallow baking pan or just take a handful at a time and sort through them. This is an essential step and makes a huge difference in the taste of the beans.


Next wash the beans thoroughly in warm water. The easiest way is to put them in a colander or strainer and rinse them thoroughly.


Put the beans and water in the slow cooker, set it on low and leave it for 6-10 hours (cooking time will vary depending on the size and type of the bean, your slow cooker and the altitude. But as long as you have enough water so that they don’t stick and burn, overcooking will just make the beans a bit softer, so don’t worry about timing it just right.) DO NOT ADD SALT OR BULLION TO THE WATER UNTIL THE BEANS ARE THOROUGHLY COOKED! This will cause the beans to form a tough outer layer, and at that point, NO amount of cooking will make them soft.


Now, you may be asking yourself, “What about the soaking step?” Many cookbooks call for soaking the beans for 2-12 hours before cooking. While soaking will shorten the cooking time by an hour or so, it is generally much easier to simply let them cook longer, and since this method uses a slow cooker, you can set them to cooking overnight or while you're at work, they’re generally good and done by the time you get back to them.


Voila! You have beautifully cooked beans! After the beans are thoroughly cooked you can add salt or bullion to taste. Your beans are ready to be added to whatever recipe you need them for. Since this makes a big batch, you can put them in small tubs (with the liquid) and freeze them for later use. You can also save the extra liquid for use in soups or in making Nutty Rice.



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