Do you love to cook beans? I’ve been wanting to talk about how to cook dried beans in four different ways for some time now. There is something awesome about a pot of beans simmering on the stove. You can flavor so many kinds of beans with different seasonings, and the magic of several new meals begin.
I grew up eating beans and made pinto beans into mashed beans to fill burritos to freeze in bulk with my daughters. I must admit right here that ONCE I missed a chunk of dirt, it must have been very small but big enough that it took one of my daughters years before she would eat refried beans again. Yep, she bit into a burrito with a chunk of dirt.
I know we need to open the bag and spread the beans out and check for rocks, debris and small chunks of dirt. Dang, I missed a chunk! Anyway, just giving you the heads-up to look through the bags of beans you decide to soak or not soak before cooking them. Today, when I made these beans I found a 1/4 inch rock, this is why I use a mesh strainer to inspect my beans before I soak or cook them.
I love storing beans in my pantry and food storage because they are nutritious, hearty, versatile and inexpensive. When fall comes, I immediately think of chili served with cornbread. I make chili with white beans, red chili beans, or a combination. Man, my mouth is watering just thinking about a pot of chili.
Can I Still Cook Really Old Beans?
Here’s the deal about beans, if they are really old, as in 25 years old, that were stored in big cans (mine were green) then they may not have the food value we would all like after that many years. BUT, they would fill the belly, and if you have a pressure cooker you may be able to cook those old hard, and I mean really hard beans.
I was in a pressure cooker class a few years ago and the instructor showed us how beans will soften if cooked in a pressure cooker. If you added some cooked quinoa and some vegetables along with the cooked beans you would at least feel full after an emergency in your neighborhood. I have friends that eat old beans almost every day of the week and they are healthy, so life is good if you store lots of beans.
I like to rinse my beans before I pre-soak them or cook them. You don’t have to pre-soak the beans, but just giving you the heads-up here, it takes longer to cook the beans when you don’t. I didn’t pre-soak the beans for my pressure cookers. I used two different electric pressure cookers below so I could compare them side by side. I purchased both of them just so you know I am not getting paid to review these pressure cookers.
Please note, I cooked the dried pinto beans four different ways using only the following:
- 1 cup dried beans (sort for rocks/debris, wash and drain)
- 3 cups of water
- No salt, seasonings or oil/fat added
- I didn’t pre-soak any of them before cooking. PLEASE NOTE, I would for sure pre-soak the beans for cooking beans on the stovetop, in the oven, and the slow cooker. Just giving you the heads-up here. Pre-soak is always the best way to cook beans. Nothing has changed except maybe the pressure cooker cooks them a little faster. BUT, I will pre-soak all my beans going forward. I’ve pre-soaked them for years, but I wanted to see if I could cook them without doing pre-soaking. Nope, it helps to cook them faster.
Tips For Gas From Beans
Tana: My dad taught us a trick to help with potential “gastric disturbances” often accompanying meals with beans later on. Depending on how large a pot you cook up, he would add 1/4 to 1 cup of any grain to the beans during cooking. You can’t even tell they’re in the beans! He often used barley, brown rice or millet.
Four Ways to Cook Beans
I would for sure pre-soak the beans at least 6-12 hours minimum covered with water in the refrigerator. After pre-soaking them, drain the water from the pan and cover with at least one inch of fresh water. Cook without a lid on medium heat until the water comes to a boil, simmer until tender, this time period will depend on how old the beans are.
I had some beans that were about two years old and they took 8 hours to cook. I didn’t pre-soak them, big mistake. You can add your favorite seasonings, garlic, jalapenos, green chilies, onions, etc. There is something awesome about making your own homemade pinto beans, or whatever beans you have in your pantry. I added my favorite seasonings like chili powder, cumin and garlic halfway through the cooking. I didn’t add oil or fat of any kind.
Cook Beans-Slow Cooker:
I would for sure pre-soak the beans at least 6-12 hours minimum covered with water in the refrigerator. After pre-soaking them, drain the water from the pan and cover with at least two inches of fresh water in your slow cooker.
I would start by setting the slow cooker on high and then lower it to low maybe halfway through the day, depending on the temperature of your slow cooker. I realize different brands cook at different temperatures. Cook at least 6-10 hours or until tender. I added my favorite seasonings like chili powder, cumin, and garlic halfway through the cooking. I didn’t add oil or fat of any kind.
Cook Beans-Oven Cooking:
I have to tell you this was the easiest way to cook them! I grabbed one of my Dutch ovens, but any deep oven-safe pan would work. I would for sure pre-soak the beans at least 6-12 hours minimum covered with water in the refrigerator. After pre-soaking them, drain the water from the pan and cover with at least one to two inches of water in the Dutch oven or pot.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake without a lid for 90-120 minutes. Longer if your beans are older. Cook until tender to your taste. I added my favorite seasonings like chili powder, cumin, and garlic halfway through the cooking. I didn’t add oil or fat of any kind.
Cook Beans-Electric Pressure Cookers:
I have purchased both the Fagor 3-in-1 pressure cooker and the 7-in-1 Instant Pot so I wanted to compare the two side by side. I am partial to the Fagor because I have taken several classes from Chef Brad who teaches so many wonderful classes everywhere.
He suggested at the time we buy a Fagor, so I did. Then the Instant Pot became popular on Facebook and on blogs recently. I decided to buy an Instant Pot before I did a giveaway with one last year. They are both great machines.
You can see the mesh strainer above, I use it to rinse my beans before I soak or cook them. As you know, I will go back to soaking my beans overnight once again after today’s experiment. NOTE: you must be careful with beans in a pressure cooker because of the foam they create.
Read the instructions about cooking beans in your pressure cooker’s owner’s manual. Most say to keep the pot fully cooked below 2/3 or 1/2 full. Please check your book because beans will expand and fill the pot, possibly too full.
The ratio for cooking beans is 1 part beans to 3 parts water. You lock the lid in place and turn it to “pressure”, HIGH 50-60 minutes and push start. I used the natural release to release the pressure after cooking.
Cook Beans-Instant Pot:
The ratio for cooking beans is 1 part beans to 3 parts water. You lock the lid in place and turn it to “Beans/Chili”, then push the high pressure. The time comes up for 30 minutes, but my beans didn’t get cooked in the 30 minutes, but my beans are two years old. They may cook in 30 minutes if you have a fresh bag of beans, but these two-year-old beans were not cooked. Next time I will push 50-60 minutes. I used the natural release to release the pressure after cooking.
Release on pressure cookers:
Here are two ways to release the pressure, be sure and use a hot pad or washcloth or you will get burned from the steam:
1. Natural Method:
After cooking you will press the START/STOP button to stop the cooking process. Unplug the unit and wait for the pressure to naturally release….approximately 20-30 minutes. After this time move the pressure regulator to vent to make sure all the pressure has been released.
2. Quick Release Method:
After cooking press the START/STOP button to make sure the unit is completely turned off. Turn the pressure regulator to vent and allow the pressure to release. Caution! Keep hands and face away from the escaping steam as it is extremely hot and can cause injury. I use a washcloth to cover the release vent when turning it to help from getting burned by the very hot steam.
- 2 lbs. ground beef
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 28 -ounce can of diced tomatoes
- 2-8 ounce cans tomato paste
- 2-16 ounce cans kidney beans (do not drain) or equal amount of freshly cooked beans
- 4 -ounce can of chopped green chilies
- 1 cup of water
- 2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Brown the ground beef with the onions and drain the grease. Get the slow cooker out and start adding the browned ground beef, onions, and the remaining ingredients. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
Please store some dried beans, they are inexpensive and you can cook them outside with charcoal and a Dutch oven or a Sun Oven if you have a lot of sunshine where you live. Thanks again for being prepared for the unexpected. May God bless you and your family for being prepared.