Before you use dry beans, especially larger beans, you need to sort through them to make sure there aren’t any stones or clumps of dirt in them. Even mechanically cleaned beans may have a few stones in them.
Because beans are dry, they need to be soaked for at least 12 hours before you cook them. A good rule of thumb is that the beans will double in size when they’re finished soaking, so if your recipe calls for 4 cups of cooked beans, start with 2 cups of dry beans.
Put the beans in a bowl and cover them several inches deep with water and leave to stand overnight. You can soak them for up to 24 hours. After that, rinse, drain, and move them to the fridge if you’re not ready to use them. They’ll keep for about another day.
More digestible beans
You can also ‘sprout’ your beans before they go into the pot. Sprouting takes more time, but the end result is beans that are very digestible. To sprout, drain your soaked beans and leave them in a bowl on the counter. Rinse and drain them two or three times throughout the day, at least in the morning and at night. The following day, continue to rinse and drain your beans until you notice the little sprouts starting to poke out of the beans. Once they’re sprouted, pour them into a pot and cover the beans with about 2 inches of water. Simmer on the stove until they’re soft.
Here’s a tip for quick beans on-the-double…
I try to plan my meals ahead of time, but sometimes I forget to soak the beans until it’s too late to add them to the chili. Instead of trying to remember, I keep a few bags of different kinds of beans in the freezer. Just soak them for 12 – 24 hours (or sprout them), drain, and transfer to labeled ziplock bags. Freeze the beans for up to a month. When you’re ready to use your frozen beans, just add enough water to cover, and simmer.
You can also grind a third cup of beans and add them to your favorite bread recipe for added protein.