Old Fashioned Dry Bean Cooking: California Beans

With slow cookers, pressure cookers, and instant pots being all the rage, I think we forget the old ways of stovetop cooking. No fancy equipment. No programing a device. Just a pot and a fire. Let’s take it back to the basics with a recipe on dry bean cooking using the overnight soaking method and some tips on the hot-soaking method.

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Preparing the Beans

First things first, you’ll need to rinse and sort through the beans. Remove any cracked beans or possible rocks. I like to use a colander for this part of the process because it makes for quick work. 

Cold Soak Method

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Start by pre-soaking your beans overnight in a bowl of fresh water. You want to cover the beans completely with water. I recommend adding enough water to cover the beans by 1 to 2 inches.

The purpose of soaking is to rehydrate the beans to prepare them for cooking. Failing to soak your beans first can create a longer cooking time, and potentially an unfavorable consistency. In their dry form, beans contain only about 15% moisture, however after soaking they rehydrate to about 60% moisture.

Hot Soak Method

Alternatively, a hot-soak method can be used. This method only requires the beans to soak for about an hour after a short 2-3 minutes of pre-boiling.

To start, place beans in a large pot and cover completely with enough hot water to cover the beans by 1 to 2 inches. Bring the pot to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for at least 1 hour. Discard the water used to soak before cooking.

Cooking the Beans

After soaking the beans, discard the water and place them in a saucepan over medium to high heat and cover with more fresh water. The water should start out at about ___ inches over the beans to prevent them from drying out. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the beans are tender. If the water level drops during this process, just add more water until the beans are covered again.

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The older the beans are the longer it takes to cook them. My advice is to be patient. Make sure that the beans are completely covered with water. 

When the beans reach your desired tenderness, drain them from the pot. They are now ready to eat or use in a recipe.

One final note on cooking dry beans— do not salt the beans until after cooking is complete. If you salt the beans while cooking, it could result in a longer cooking time.

California Beans has some great instructional videos (yes, produced by me!) on cooking dry beans along with some more tips and tricks.


Cooking Dried Beans with the Cold Soaking Method 

Ingredients

dry beans of choice

fresh water

  1. Rinse and sort dry beans. Discard any broken/cracked beans or rocks.
  2. Place beans in a bowl and cover completely in cool water. Allow to soak overnight.
  3. Discard the water. Place beans in a large saucepan and cover with twice the amount of fresh, cool water as beans. Bring the water to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for approximately 45-60 minutes, or until beans are tender*.
  4. Wait to salt beans until after cooking as salt could affect the cooking time.

*Older beans will take longer to cook.


Cooking Dried Beans with the Hot Soaking Method

Ingredients

dry beans of choice

fresh water

  1. Rinse and sort dry beans. Discard any broken/cracked beans or rocks.
  2. Place beans in a pot and cover completely in cool water. Bring the pot of water to boil for 2 to 3 minutes of pre-boiling.
  3. Remove from heat, cover beans and let sit for at least 1 hour. 
  4. Discard the water. Place beans in a large saucepan and cover with twice the amount of fresh, cool water as beans. Bring the water to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for approximately 45-60 minutes, or until beans are tender*.
  5. Wait to salt beans until after cooking as salt could affect the cooking time.

*Older beans will take longer to cook.