No need to pre-soak beans! This trick will save you a step when cooking dried beans. ~ by Serena Ball, MS, RD
Every time I cruise through the dried beans aisle in the supermarket, I’m amazed I can feed my entire family of six (plus four more people!) a healthy, high-fiber, filling, protein-packed and plant-based meal for $1.29 – the cost of a 1-pound bag of dried beans.
If only I could remember to soak those beans overnight – as is recommended on packages of dried beans.
So I do the “Quick Soak” method:
Rinse and sort beans in a large pot. (Don’t skip this, I’ve found small pebbles in bags of beans.) To 1 pound of beans, add 8 cups water. Bring to a rapid boil, boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain soaking water and rinse beans. You just need to begin at least 3-4 hours before dinner is served. I like this method because I find the beans get a head start on cooking and cook up softer and faster than when overnight soaked. However, sometimes my schedule doesn’t allow for watching a pot boil, setting it aside, then cooking.
So here’s my new favorite way to cook dried beans:
Set it and forget it! Do not soak, just cook for 3-4 hours on high in the slow cooker. I discovered this rather by accident. I was researching different methods for this post: Soaking overnight then cooking in a pot, quick soaking then cooking in a slow cooker…and I mixed things up and threw 1 cup un-soaked, dried navy beans into the slow cooker with 4-5 cups low-sodium broth. 2 1/2 cups of soft, flavorful beans emerged after just 3.5 hours.
Here are my three favorite dried beans to cook:
Navy beans – If you’ve never cooked dried beans, start with these. When cooked, they have a texture most similar to canned beans – super tender with soft skins. They also cook faster than almost any dried bean.
Garbanzo beans – My kids like these sweet, nutty bean classically used in hummus. If you eat a lot of hummus, compare the numbers: 3 cans of garbanzo beans (10.5 servings) for $3.87 vs. 1 bag (10 servings) for $1.29.
Pinto beans – I use these in chili or refried beans. If you cook in the slow cooker with an acid like tomatoes (as I do below) the beans with lose their color and turn white. But they are still delicious.
One note on ummm, flatulence: Pre-soaking beans helps remove most of the indigestible bean sugars that cause gas. So if you don’t pre-soak, just discard the broth used to cook the beans in the pot or slow cooker…OR eat beans MORE often so your body can develop more of the enzymes needed to digest beans: My kids (the daughters and son of a dietitian!) say that popular little ditty like this:
Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat the LESS you toot….So let’s eat beans for every meal!
Here are 5 Tips to Deflate Flatulence (listed at bottom of the post.)