Don’t be daunted or overwhelmed by the idea of cooking beans from dried.

Certainly there are times when we are rushed and opening a can or carton of prepared organic beans can save the day, but there is definitely something wonderful in taking the time to prepare and cook beans from dried. We just need to think ahead and portion out our time. The beans themselves may need to soak overnight and cook a great portion of the day, but it may take you only 5 minutes to clean them then set them to soak overnight. The next morning it may take you a few more minutes to rinse the beans then you set them about cooking in a crock pot for the day, or on the stove for an hour or two that evening. Maybe you need a little more time to prep vegetables. In all you may spend 15 to 20 minutes over the course of a day or two to have several meals ready.  You just need not forget them.

Ready to try cooking from dried?

Prepare the lentils or beans

No one really wants to eat stone soup. Unless you buy your beans from a source that does cleaning, you will likely need to sort your beans to eliminate any pebbles, debris or wrinkled beans. This can be a great project for kids old enough to know not to eat dried beans.  

After a quick sorting, rinse lentils and split peas then proceed with your recipe. Some beans require soaking and you have several methods to choose from – 

  • Slow soak—Combine 1 lb. of dried beans and 10 cups of water in a large pot. Cover and refrigerated over night.
  • Hot soak— Bring 10 cups of water in a large stock pot to a boil.  Add in 1 lb. dried bean and return to a boil. Remove from heat and cover tightly. Let stand at room temperature for about 3-5 hours.
  • Quick soak – Bring 10 cups of water in a large stock pot to a boil.  Add 1 lb. dried beans and return to a boil. Boil 2 to 3 minutes. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • Gas-free soak – Bring 10 cups of water in a large stock pot to a boil. Add 1 lb. of dried beans and return to boil.  Boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover tightly and set aside to soak overnight. With this method about 75% of the indigestible sugars (oligosaccharides) that create gas will be dissolved.

A few tips

You may want to explore different beans for both their flavor, variety and based on your time and digestive needs. Here’s a quick overview.

  • Aduki beans, mung beans, lentils and split peas are the easiest to digest and cause the least amount of difficulty with gas.  Great place to start if you are new to legumes.
  • Only add salt to small beans like mung, aduki, lentils and split peas during the cooking process. Add salt to other legumes after they have already softened or the salt will keep them from cooking down soft. It’s never fun to end up with a pot of hard cooked beans. Already added the salt? No worries, toss a peeled potato into the cooking pot. The potato will leech the excess acid from the beans. Once the beans are cooked compost the potato.  You can use this trick if you over salt your soups too.
  • Want to reduce gas? Soak beans for at least three hours and then change out the soaking water.
  • Don’t stir too much!  Stirring beans while they are cooking will break them down and pull off their shells. of beans and they are hard.
  • Chew well – really digestion begins in the mouth, so do your stomach a favor and savor some flavor.
  • If your beans don’t soften and you haven’t added salt – you may have too acidic of water. Use a filtered or spring water.
  • Add acidic ingredients, such as vinegar, tomatoes or juice, near the end of the cooking time, when the beans are just tender.  Just like salt, these ingredients can keep the beans from softening. Beans are done when they can be easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork.
  • Save beans for later.  Immerse cooked beans in cold water, drain well and freeze.
  • Cook now – freeze for later.  Beans and peas can be easily frozen for use later in soups and stir fry.  Immerse cooked beans them in cold water until cool, drain well and freeze.
  • Know your quantity.  One pound of dried beans yields about 5 or 6 cups cooked beans.  A 15-ounce can of beans equals about 1 1/2 cups cooked beans, drained.
  • Add in cumin, fennel or other digestive herbs to aid in absorption.
  • Use digestive enzymes when introducing beans and lentils into your diet.  After a time, your body will begin to manufacture an enzyme that breaks them down.
  • Eat a fermented food with your bean dish. A little sauerkraut added to a German style lentil soup? Kimchi with your black beans? Fermented foods provide digestive enzyme and probiotics that will aid in digestive vitality. Find out more.

Cooking Peas, Lentils and Beans

1 cup dried water cooking  yield
aduki 4 45-50 min 2 1/2 cups
anasazi 4 1 1/2 hours 2 1/2 cups
appaloosa 4 1 1/2 hours 2 1/2 cups
black 4 50-60 min 2 1/2 cups
canary 4 1 1/2 hours 2 1/2 cups
cannellini 4 1 1/2 hours 2 1/2 cups
chick peas 4 2 hours 3 cups
cranberry 4 1 1/2 hours 2 1/2 cups
fava 4 45-50 min 2 1/2 cups
kidney 3 1 1/2 2 1/2 cups
lentils, green & brown 4 30 min 2 1/2 cups
lentils, red 3 20 min 2 1/2 cups
lentils, French, beluga 3 25 min 2 1/2 cups
lima 4 55-60 min 2 1/2 cups
mung 4 1 1/2 hours 2 1/2 cups
peas, black eyed 4 60 min 2 1/2 cups
peas, split 3 35-40 min 2 1/2 cups
peas, whole 4 60 min 2 1/2 cups
pinto 3 1 1/2 hours 2  cups
red 4 45-50 min 2 1/2 cups
soy 5 3 hours 2 2/4 cups
white 4 50-60 min 2 3/4 cups

Find out more about lentils and legumes check out Protein Pairs.