Friday, August 10, 2012

Tips for Cooking Beans

You may not think beans are important, but I do. Why? Well, I'm married to a Mexican dude. Why else? Because they're the best filler possibly ever.

Sometimes we just eat them with tortillas and pickled jalapeƱos. We eat them with eggs, we eat them with chorizo or longaniza, we eat them on baked potatoes, and of course, in burritos! Beans are pretty important to our family, so that's why I felt it publish-worthy.

Now, I suppose we could just go buy a can of refried beans at the store, right? Sorry, no. I don't even know what is in those things. And honestly, bulk beans can cost as little as 12 cents a pound through co-ops or warehouse stores. From the regular grocery store, I get beans for about 79 cents/lb in the bulk section. No preservatives included, thankyouverymuch!

So we all know we have to soak beans before we cook them, right? I didn't. My mother-in-law always just rinsed them off, threw them in a pot after some fried onions, then filled the pot with water and added salt right then and there. Then they had to cook for like 5-7 hours. I'm sure its listed somewhere on the Internet, or in possibly every cookbook including how to cook beans, but I'll list my bean-cooking tips here, in case you like to make things difficult, as I do!


Soaking aids in digestibility, thus eliminating your post-bean fart issue by breaking down oligosaccharides and phytates (among other things). If you're having trouble digesting beans- you'll fart. That's just how it is. So soak 'em with ACV. Just do it.

Beans at least double in size after a 12-hour soak. So to soak your beans, put enough water in the bowl/pot/bathtub to cover 3x as many beans as you have in there (1 Cup beans, 3 Cups water), 'cause them suckers can get purdy big.


Before you salt your bean water, STOP! Adding salt to the beans before they cook hardens the skins on the beans... so it increases cooking time a good deal. Sometimes it would take my black or pinto beans a good 8 hours to cook properly. (I'm sorry, dear starving children, the other half of your dinner will be done after bedtime). Add salt when the beans are done cooking (that way, you can taste if they need more or less)!

Let's simplify things. Here's my basic bean recipe.

**Note: It will be a few hours, so my suggestion is to soak the beans overnight, start cooking the beans in the morning, and they will be cooked by lunch or dinner time, depending on your ability to babysit.


1 lb dry beans of your choice (pinto, black, and Peruvian are our favorites)
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
1/2 of one medium white onion, sliced
3 tbsp cooking fat (bacon grease or butter are my favorites)
salt, to taste

To Soak:

1. Dump your pound of beans on the dining room table. Pick out any rocks, sticks, or dirt clumps.

2. Put your beans in your soaking bowl. Rinse and drain the beans a couple of times. Something you may have thought was a bean was probably a dirt clod, and now its going to be mud. Now rinse.

3. Fill your soaking bowl (with the beans in it) with water (remember our 1:3 ratio), and the ACV. Let them soak for 12 hours.

To Cook:

1. Heat your bean pot to a medium-high heat and add cooking fat.

2. Slice your onions, and the onions into the pot when the cooking fat is hot (if the heat is too low, you will caramelize your onions and the beans will be sweet. If you start them on a higher heat, it's a very different flavor).
3. Cook the onions until the edges burn a little. Black-burn is okay! Just make sure your cooking fat doesn't start smoking.

4. Add your beans and enough water until you have about an inch left of space from the water line to the top of the pot.

5. Keep the pot on medium-high heat long enough to get a little boil rolling. When the pot reaches a smallish boil, set the heat to very low, and cover. 

6. Check every hour or so and stir regularly. This should take about 4-6 hours. 

7. To check readiness: Pop a bean in your mouth after letting it cool down for a second. If its not dry or powdery, you're done cooking your beans. Now mash 'em up with a potato masher.  This is also the time to also add your salt!

8. After you've mashed your beans, you need to stir them frequently. They settle more readily and you risk burning them if you leave them to cook alone too long after they're mashed!

Now go figure out what you're going to eat them with. Yum!

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