How to Cook Beans

How to Cook Beans

Beans, which are part of the legume family, are easy to add to any diet. They play a big role in a vegetarian or vegan diet because of their protein and nutrient content.

You can use them in soup, vegetarian chili, salads; eat them hot or cold, and have them as a side dish, or as part of the main course. There and dozens of vegetarian bean recipes to choose from. But preparing and cooking beans correctly is key.

Preparation Methods

Dried Beans

Soak dried beans before cooking. Most people believe that before cooking dried beans they have to be soaked for a minimum of eight hours to make them easy to digest. Others claim you don’t have to soak them at all.

Lentils never have to be soaked.

But if you’re like most people and find them hard to digest, your best bet is to soak beans overnight in the refrigerator before cooking them. Another advantage: Soaking cuts the cooking time dramatically.

If you don’t have the time to soak them overnight or forget, there are other options.

Boil dried beans for a few minutes and let sit for an hour. Add three times as much water as beans, and add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of dried beans. The baking soda softens the beans and breaks down the oligosaccharides. (It’s the oligosaccharides, a type of sugar molecule, that causes flatulence.)

Bring to a boil for at least two minutes. Remove them from the heat and let them sit for an hour. Throw out the soaking water, and they’re ready to cook or store.

Disadvantage: This technique may cause beans to split or become slightly mushy.

Use canned beans. For me, when in a hurry, this is the way to go. Canned beans are precooked so all you have to do is drain and rinse before you add them to your recipes.

Disadvantage: For the same price you get three times as many dried beans.

How To Cook Beans

Bring them to a gentle boil and simmer until the beans are soft. To keep them firm and unbroken stir gently and infrequently while cooking.

Cooked beans freeze well so make a large batch.

The amount of cooking time depends on the type of beans and how long they were soaked. The longer they soak, the less cooking time is needed. In general, they can take between 45 minutes to an hour.

If you want to minimize the time you spend cooking beans you can use a Crock-Pot or pressure cooker. This cuts the time by more than half, and you’ll retain more of the nutrients. If you cook the beans for more than 1 and 1/4 hours about 35 percent of the B vitamins and 50 percent of the folic acid seep into the liquid, so use the cooking water as well.

When to Season Beans

Don’t use salt or acidic seasonings, like wine, vinegar, or tomatoes, until the beans are cooked. If you do the beans will be tough and you’ll have to cook them longer.

Most vegetarians consume a lot of legumes because of their health benefits and variety. Regardless of the legumes you choose, be sure to prepare and cook them correctly so that they’re easy to digest.

Sources

Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Jack Norris, RD, Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, Vegan for Life

Michael Murray, N.D., The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

© 2021 Living Well Health Coach

Disclaimer: The information on this site is for information purposes only. It is not intended to replace your healthcare professional or provide diagnosis or treatment.