Cooking beans from scratch used to intimidate me. A lot. Mainly because I thought it would take forever and I didn’t think I could possibly find the time for it. During my time off work for cancer treatment however, I lost the excuse of not having time to do it. I was busy for literally 1 hour a day. After radiation, I had nothing else on the schedule…so I finally decided to try cooking beans from scratch. And guess what, it was super easy and didn’t take as much time as I thought-not a lot of active time that is. You do need to be home while these are cooking. So choose a day when you know you will be off work or working from home.
Step 1-Figure out what beans you want to cook. (I chose chickpeas today)
Step 2-Measure out how many beans you want to cook (Keep in mind they triple in size: 1 cup of dry beans=3 cups cooked beans. I started with 3 cups of dry chickpeas)
Step 3-Sort through and pick out any broken beans or debris as you place them into a giant pot.
Step 4-Fill the pot with water-the water should be about 2 inches higher than the beans.
Step 5-Soak the beans. You have two options here. First, you can just soak them in cold water for 8-12 hours. (This is for when you have planned enough in advance and you know you want to cook beans tomorrow-soak them while you are sleeping). OR use the quick-soak method (for when you planned to cook beans today but forgot to soak them last night) Bring the beans to a rolling boil and turn off the heat. Cover them up and leave them for 1 hour. (Easy, huh?)
Step 6-Drain and rinse the beans.
Step 7-Put the beans back in the pot and refill with water, again about 2 inches above the beans.
Step 8-Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover.
Step 9-Find something to do while the beans are cooking. Hanging out with your cat is a good option.
Step 10-When the beans are cooked to your liking, drain them and place into desired containers for the fridge or freezer. I recommend letting them cool on the counter before putting them away.
Generally speaking, most beans take about 1-2 hours to cook. This depends largely on the size of the bean and how fresh they are. In most cases, you will have no clue how fresh the beans are-unless your farmer’s market is that awesome. I looked up lots of cooking charts online and they all had different cooking times listed. In my experience chickpeas and kidney beans each took about 2-2.5 hours to cook after quick soaking. Black, pinto, and great northern beans took about 1-1.5 hours to cook after quick soaking.
Don’t let the cooking times worry you!! Check them after 1 hour-can you easily mush them with your fingers? Awesome! They’re done! Still hard? Leave them for another 30 minute and check again until they are cooked.
If you’re feeling adventurous, cook 2-3 types of beans in separate pots so you have a bigger variety in the freezer. Or put a few different types of beans in the same pot. The favorite combo in our house is to cook pinto, kidney, and black beans together and later turn it into chili.
Here’s the best part about cooking beans from scratch-it’s much cheaper than canned beans! The other day I bought a 4lb. bag of dried chickpeas for only $2. That’s roughly 16 cans of beans! 16 cans of beans where I live would cost about $20-30. The dried beans sound like a much better deal to me!
I know everyone is really busy these days. Devoting 3-4 hours to cook beans when you can buy them in a can may sound ridiculous. But if you can find just one day a month to make an enormous batch of beans from scratch, you won’t regret it. Beans will keep in the fridge for about a week and in the freezer for months. Seriously, your belly and wallet will thank you.