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How to Quick-Soak Dried Beans

Dried beans are more flavorful and affordable than canned. Learn the fastest way to soak and prepare dried beans with these tips from the Taste of Home Test Kitchen.

By Elizabeth Harris, Contributing Editor and Julie Kuczynski, Associate Book Editor

Dried beans make a fresh and flavorful homemade protein source.


Most recipes with dried beans call for an overnight soak, but if you don’t have time, don’t worry! With this quick-soak method, your beans will be ready to cook in about an hour. The method works for any dried bean, from pintos to kidneys to cannellini to garbanzos.


Expert Tips from the Taste of Home Test Kitchen

  • You can skip the soak and just rinse and cook, but we don’t recommend it. Soaking softens and rehydrates the beans, plus it eliminates some of the sugar molecules that make beans difficult to digest.
  • Rinse ’em off: Before soaking, rinse the beans with cold water and sort through them to remove pebbles, grit or debris.
  • Instead of using a colander, rinse beans in a plastic pitcher with a plunger/mixer within. Completely submerge the beans in water and mix them around to get them good and clean. Pour the water out using the strainer opening on the lid.
  • Soak and cook different types of beans separately. Dark beans can discolor lighter ones, and different beans may require different soaking and cooking times.
  • Be prepared: Old beans, hard water and high altitude may require increased soaking and cooking times.
  • Use a large pot and plenty of water when soaking beans. Rehydrated beans can double or triple in volume.
  • Slice to see if the beans are softened by cutting one in half. Continue soaking if the center is opaque.
  • Dry beans will swell when cooked. 1 pound uncooked dried beans = 2 cups dried or 6 cups cooked.



How to Quick-Soak Beans

What you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • Water
  • 1 pound dried beans

Equipment

  • Dutch oven or soup kettle

Place rinsed and sorted beans in a Dutch oven and add enough water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil; boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for at least 1 hour (or up to 4 hours). Drain and rinse beans. Ta-da! You now have beans ready to use in soups, stews and other bean recipes.


How to Soak Beans Overnight

If time isn’t an issue, here’s a traditional method for soaking beans.

What you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • Water
  • 1 pound dried pinto, black, kidney, navy or great northern beans

Equipment

  • Dutch oven or soup kettle

Place rinsed and sorted beans in a Dutch oven. For every 1 cup of beans, add 3 cups cold water. Cover and soak at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse beans.


How to Cook Soaked Dried Beans

What you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • Dried pinto, black, kidney, navy or great northern beans
  • 1 Tbsp. oil or butter
  • Salt, optional
  • Tomatoes, lemon juice, mustard, molasses, wine or vinegar, optional
  • Garlic and herbs, optional

Equipment:

  • Dutch oven

  1. In a Dutch oven, add the correct amount of water to beans per recipe or package directions. A good rule of thumb is that beans should be submerged but not swimming in too much water.
  2. If desired, add 1 tablespoon of oil or butter to the pan to help reduce foaming.
  3. Add salt or acidic ingredients (tomatoes, lemon juice, mustard, molasses, wine or vinegar) to the beans after they are tender. Salt and acidic ingredients inhibit the beans from absorbing liquid and softening.
  4. To test beans for doneness, remove a bean and either bite into it or mash it with the back of a spoon. If the bean is easy to mash and soft in the center, it is done.

How to Store Your Beans

Dried: Store uncooked dried beans tightly covered in a cool, dry place. It’s best to use within 12 months; older beans take longer to soften.

Cooked: Store cooked beans, covered, in the refrigerator up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months.