Cooking dried beans can be a little intimidating. The first time I tried to do it was just for fun, and I definitely had a few trial and error moments figuring it out. I now see it as a methodical, tranquil, everyday process. It’s cost-effective; you can get about four pints of beans from one cup dried. It’s convenient; you always have them on hand for a last-minute recipe. And it’s calming; the process of making them is simple, hands-off, and empowering.
1. Soaking. Soak 1 c dried beans with at least 1 c filtered water overnight. The beans will absorb the water and plump up, so make sure you put them in a container that is only half-full to start.
2. Rinsing. Before you cook the soaked beans, rinse them in a colander under cool water to remove all the dirt, grime, and gaseous sugars from that have leaked out.
3. Cooking. Place beans in a medium stockpot and fill the pot about halfway with fresh water. You want enough for the beans to be submerged by at least an inch or two. Then the weird step: add a small piece of dried kombu to the pot (about an inch or two in length). The kombu will soften and will help to alleviate the gassy factor commonly associated with cooked beans. Heat the beans to a simmer and let cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. You may need to add a little water if the beans absorb too much; you want them to be submerged at all times. Once beans are cooked, remove from heat and let cool in the stockpot. (Note: Most varieties of beans will cook fairly quickly; chickpeas, however, usually need up to double the amount of time to fully cook).
4. Storing. When the beans are cool enough to handle, remove the kombu and discard. Ladle spoonfuls into freezer-safe pint-sized mason jars until 2/3 full. Once all beans are evenly distributed among the jars (you will need 3-4), fill them until submerged with the cooking water. Let cool without the lids in the refrigerator until completely cold. Screw lids on tightly and store in freezer until use.
5. Eating. When you’re ready to use the beans, let thaw in refrigerator or run the jar under cool water until thawed. Rinse well to remove the cooking water and any leftover kombu pieces. Use just like you would canned beans.
Easy, peasy. Yes, there is a little bit of time involved, but it’s fairly hands off. You can also cook larger batches in the slow cooker if preferred. I like to keep a couple different varieties of beans on hand, and my freezer is only so big, so I usually cook smaller batches at a time and cook two types at once (in separate pots). I’ve never had any issues with a batch not cooking perfectly using this method, and I’ve not had any digestive issues either, especially since adding the kombu. Don’t skip it!