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How to Prepare Dry Beans

Dry beans are one of the major crops in our region, and they are inexpensive foods to add to our menus. They provide protein, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. While canned beans are convenient, many types are canned with added salt and the canned version is more expensive than dry.

Here’s how to soak and use dry beans in your cooking:

1. Inspect the dry beans, removing any broken beans or foreign materials.

2. Rinse the beans thoroughly in cold water.

3. Soak the beans using the preferred method.

• Add 10 cups of cold water to the pot for each pound (2 cups) of beans. Bring the water to a boil, then boil for one to three minutes. Remove from heat and cover the pot. Let stand. A four-hour soak is ideal for high-quality beans.

4. Drain and rinse the soaked beans.
Draining and rinsing the beans helps remove natural sugars that may cause intestinal gas.

5. Cook the beans.
Add fresh, cold water to cover the beans. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil if you wish. Adding oil helps prevents foaming and boiling over. Heat to boiling, then reduce the heat to simmer to cook the beans gently until they are tender.

Cooking times vary with the type, size and age of beans, but generally cooking takes one to two hours. While the beans are cooking, add more water if necessary to keep them covered. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking during cooking. You should be able to mash the cooked beans easily between two fingers or with a fork.

6. Drain and rinse the beans immediately after they have reached the desired texture.
Refrigerate the beans until ready to use.

7. Use soaked, cooked beans in place of canned beans in your favorite recipes. Add flavorings, such as the following, after the beans are cooked:

• Acidic ingredients such as lemon juice, vinegar, tomatoes, chili sauce, ketchup and molasses increase the depth of flavor in your recipes.

• Onions can be added any time during the cooking process. However, onions retain their flavor best when added during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

• Herbs and spices can be added any time, but they gradually lose flavor during long cooking, so add them closer to the end of the cooking.

• Salt: Use minimal amounts to limit the sodium content.

2 cups of dry beans = 4 to 5 cups of cooked beans

See the NDSU Extension cookbook “Spillin’ the Beans!” for a wide range of recipes using canned or dry beans.


By Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., food and nutrition specialist

Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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