Hints for Cooking Dry Beans and other Legumes

We don't cook dry beans very often but they are good and they make a great storage staple.  If you cook beans occasionally or store dry beans, lentils, or peas, we thought the following information would be useful.

• Storing: Always store beans in a dry place in a container with a secure lid to keep mice and bugs out.  Any plastic containers should be of FDA approved (food grade) plastic to keep the beans from leaching harmful chemicals from the plastic.  (Never store food in garbage bags.  If it is not advertised as food grade, it probably isn't.)  Beans become hard as they age.  Beans stored for more than three years should be replaced. 
• Presoaking:  Rinse and pick over the beans or peas to remove foreign matter such as stones.  Soak in water, three or four cups of water for each cup of beans, for eight hours.  If the weather is warm, refrigerate while soaking to avoid fermentation.
• Cooking: Add one tablespoon of oil for each cup of beans and up to one teaspoon of salt for each cup.  Bring the water to a boil then reduce the heat.  Continue cooking on low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2  hours or until done.  Check occasionally and add water as needed.
• Doneness:  Beans are done when the skins will easily slip off or when the beans are soft enough that you can mash them against the roof of your mouth with your tongue.
• Freezing:  Beans freeze well.  If you cook extra, you can freeze them in airtight containers.
• Refried beans: In a hot, oiled skillet, mash the beans and stir them in the bean liquid.  Cook until hot.

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