Bean fest


Dried heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo

Bean-O: Dried heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo

Tonight I’m cooking up a big-ass pot of beans to use up a package of dried beans that have been languishing in my pantry. Cooking dried beans more often is part of my resolution after visiting the Rancho la Puerta last week.

I adore beans, and the only drawback with dried beans is that you have to plan ahead to soak them. The task doesn’t involve much work–just sort through the beans to remove any small stones or other debris, put them in a large pot, cover with water, cover the pot, and let it stand for eight hours or overnight.*  (Smaller legumes, like split peas or lentils, don’t require soaking.)

Dried beans also can take awhile to cook, which also doesn’t involve much actual effort, but you do have to keep tabs on them.

  • Drain the soaked beans, return them to the pot, and cover them with 1 inch of cold water.
  • Bring the pot to a boil.
  • Immediately reduce the heat to s simmer and cook the beans, anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. Cooking time depends on the size and age of the bean. Be sure to test for doneness. Maintain the water at a simmer, so the beans don’t come out tough, and don’t add salt to the beans while they cook, which also can toughen them. 

I’m cooking Great Northern beans tonight and will use them tomorrow to make a Tuscan Bean Soup. I’ll share the recipe tomorrow.

If you have a bean recipe to share, check out the Is My Blog Burning? My Legume Love Affair recipe event, which yield lots of creative ways with beans. 

* I prefer the overnight method for soaking beans because I think it yields a more tender, uniformly cooked bean. That’s completely unscientific, just my opinion. You could opt for the quick-soak method: place the dried beans in a large pot, cover with triple their volume in water; bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes; remove the pan from the heat, cover, and soak 1 hour.