Cooking beans is crazy easy. It’s remembering to soak them the night before that is the hard part.
My morning brain and my night brain are two completely different beasts. My morning brain is like, “Wooooo yeah! We gonna cook all day and do school work with the kids (let’s do art today!) and organize ourselves completely and make all the phone calls and make 20 quarts of applesauce and finish the laundry and write two blog posts! Let’s do this!”
As the days wears on, I knock out about three of my twenty lofty goals (because my time and energy always run out before my to-do list ends – and also because I hate making phone calls). After a full day of thinking hard and working hard and loving hard, my night brain is like, “I’m not speaking to you right now.”
This is why it is hard to soak beans.
The irony is that I never forget to grind coffee beans at night to put into my coffee pot for easy coffee making the next morning. Obviously, I have my priorities. Perhaps my two bean worlds could collide and I could let my coffee beans trigger a reminder about my pintos? It only makes sense.
On the rare occasion I do remember to soak beans, I feel so accomplished when I get into bed at night. Forget all the other stuff I did for 15 hours all day long. I totally put my beans in a pot with water! I am so very amazing!
Once the beans have been soaked, we can put them into a crock pot to cook all day for our dinner that night.
How to Cook Beans in a Crock Pot
1. At night before bed, put about 4 cups of any variety of beans into a pot with 6-8 cups of water.
2. Splash in a little vinegar. It’s supposed to help with the toots. I offer no guarantees.
3. Let the beans soak overnight.
4. Strain and rinse them in the morning. Put them into a crock pot and cover them with fresh water.
5. Add a couple of chopped onions to the post for flavor. This is optional but yummy and recommended.
6. Cover and cook the beans on low for 8-10 hours or until they are tender.
At this point, you can enjoy your beans in any way you enjoy beans. Our favorites are:
- Chili Mac
- Easy Cheesy Bean Dip
- Black Bean Chicken Nachos
- Black Bean Salsa
- Bean and Cheese Burritos
- Calico Beans
What are your favorite ways to eat beans? Please tell me about your morning brain vs. your night brain. Which works better for you?
Pat B. says
I like to can my beans so they are already cooked and I just have to open a jar and heat and eat. Also I have learned to add a beef bullion cube in with the beans and 1 tablespoon of creamy peanut butter. It makes the beans so much more rich and delicious. Pat B.
We eat a lot of beans at my house. At some point I realized that the beans don’t even need soaked. I just throw them in the crockpot in the morning (with ample water), turn it to high, and have beans for dinner. It is so easy. And I no longer have to fret about forgetting to soak the beans.
Several have mentioned this. I am so excited to try it!
I add 1 tsp. RealSalt for each cup of beans when I turn on the crock pot (for any type of bean). Because the beans are cooking all day long they still soften beautifully and they are so flavorful. For Mexican pintos I also add in 3 T. homemade taco seasoning for each cup of beans along with 1/2-1 green bell pepper to the pot. This adds great flavor and the bell pepper falls apart by the end of the day (yay for not having to chop my peppers!)
The flavor of this sounds wonderful!
Glad to see this post. What kind of vinegar do you use in the soaking water? Also any tips for freezing them in freezer bags. I would like to be able to snap off a small amount to use in a recipe. Since there’s only 2 of us, a bag of beans lasts a while. My night brain works better than my morning brain due to many years of working nights.
I use apple cider vinegar for this. I’d just freeze them in quart sized freezer bags in meal sized portions.
I find that I’m neither an evening or a morning person. I function best somewhere between 10:30 am and 7:30 pm. It’s not that I can’t do anything before or after that. But my brain and body both function slower before and after those times. I wonder if that makes me lazy. Hmmm.
As far as beans go: I will make a large crockpot full of black beans without any seasoning and then freeze them by the cup in freezer bags. I do this because there are a number of different recipes that I use black beans for, but I don’t generally need a lot. And I can still take out several bags of black beans from the freezer and put them in a pan with garlic, onions, cumin, and water and still have a delicious meal of black beans should I choose.
With pinto beans, I tend to make large amounts of those as well, and if I wanted, I could freeze them the way I do the black beans. But instead, I use them to make large portions of healthy refried beans (sauteed onions, garlic and then chili powder, cumin and salt all in the food processor) and then I freeze those portions. That way when I need refried beans, I take them out. And they are far more delicious and nutritious than the ones in the can.
Years ago I read in a CP cookbook that you could put your beans in the CP with hot tap water (5 c water/1 pound beans)and eliminate the soaking time altogether. It totally works! On high, my beans are done in 3-4 hours. On low, they can cook most of the day and still be ready for dinner.
Now your morning brain can take over thinking about beans and leave your poor, tired evening brain alone. ;-)
I have never soaked a single bean, ever. :-) I just put them (pintos) straight into the crockpot in the morning with a smoked ham hock and jalapeno slices and they’re read in time for supper! Yum yum!
So many people are saying this, and I’m wondering why I am the last to know! I’ll never soak a bean again. Life it too short.
Avon Shields says
After 17 years working in the dorm, I love to work into the night (usually took final safety check at around 2am) but also unlocked doors at 6am, so I still like to work early mornings. But I just collapse in the afternoon and my brain goes into hibernation. My body clock can’t seem to change even after all this time.
Now…the beans…I make a large batch (salted & with a bit of a/c vinegar ), drain, divide them by 2 cup servings into zip-top bags and freeze . No, I don’t soak them. If I don’t have any made I use canned. Pour 1 pkg BEANS into a large bowl (Pyrex with handle ????), add equal amount of frozen /canned CORN and equal amount of canned TOMATOES + s/p. Nuke it in the microwave for 3 minutes and eat. I know you prefer stove top, so go for it. Now, I often add other things that I have on hand, like leftover rice/pasta (both of which I also like to keep ready in the freezer), and/or chopped fresh vegetables – our fave is cabbage. I like to serve it with cornbread or other breads. If I want to make it into a heavier meal I just add sauted ground beef and onions (which I also like to keep ready in the freezer).
PS – I love your blog ?
Sounds so yummy!
Avon Shields says
Oops… my computer changed all my smiley faces into question marks !!!
Sometimes I do soak overnite, but FIRST, I sort the beans for any tiny pebbles, etc. and always you will find things in there that you don’t want to eat….I noticed no one mentioned that !!
I also cook them without soaking, but first I sort thru the beans and pick out anything that should not be in there….and then I wash them several times and put in pot with hot water and let come to a rolling boil for a couple of mins. and then pour into the crockpot….they cook faster that way…..I also add a large finely cut up onion and a teaspoon of hot pepper seeds and couple of garlic cloves…. cook until almost done and then I add salt to taste…..I heard putting salt in them first makes them less tender…..! This is what works for me….and I also make chili and cook beans same way to add to chili…..some good eating…….
Oh I totally recognise your morning brain script! That’s exactly what my morning brain says every day in the school holidays. Then suddenly it’s 3pm and I haven’t sat down since breakfast, and I’m absolutely exhausted and useless for the rest of the afternoon.
Strangely enough, my brain doesn’t exhibit the same exuberance on work/school mornings…..
Ha ha – I LOVED this:
“I totally put my beans in a pot with water! I am so very amazing!”
That’s how I feel, too! I’m like to my husband: “Honey, aren’t you so proud of me for putting the beans on to soak?”
My own bean-making endeavors and brain power pretty much match exactly with the previous comment from Avelinn. I am definitely more inclined toward being a night owl, but my brain doesn’t work all that great at either end of the day lately. :P
Kari Coppinger says
Love this: my night brain is like, “I’m not speaking to you right now.”
Also love your morning brain’s optimistic to do list.
Getting out beans now…
Apparently my night brain and my morning brain don’t work at all because often I am getting serious about making supper around 4 and realize I have no pinto or refried beans in the house :( Well, instead I just put a pound of pintos in a dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, 1/2 tsp of salt, cover over with 1 1/2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Once they boil I put them in the preheated oven at 250 for 75 minutes. I check them at 45 minutes and if the water is looking like it isn’t going to voer I add 2 cups of boiling water. Beans in less than 2 hours!
An even faster way is to use the pressure cooker. Just add one cup of unsoaked pinto beans, 4 cups water, and 1 tbsp oil, plus seasonings, bring to pressure and cook 25 min. Release pressure, and they’re done. I do a little less time for beans I want to stay whole, like for soup, and a little more for refried beans. For each additional cup of beans add three cups of water and 1 tbsp of oil.
I have stuck with the soak because beans made from dry always seem to taste like dirt to me, and in my mind, that makes them a little lest dirt tasting. But I gotta be real, I’ve been reaching for the cans since my last 2 babies were born. Maybe time to get back into the groove! The real reason I wanted to comment – the (ahem) toots. Beans don’t actually cause them – beans help clean the bile in our bodies, which cleans our blood. It’s that nasty stuff that is pulled out that ferments when it hits our intestines. Here’s a little article that explains: http://karenhurd.com/pages/healthtopics/specifichealthconcerns/ht-shc-whybeansdontcausegas.html And I’m reminded to eat more beans!! :)
I love cooking beans in my crockpot but please do NOT cook your red kidney beans this way! Red kidney beans have a toxin in them called Phytohaemagglutinin (kidney bean lectin) and they must be boiled for at least 10 minutes to get rid of it and make them safe to eat – crockpots do not get hot enough. (Of course you could finish cooking them in a crockpot after boiling them). Undercooked kidney beans are actually more toxic than raw beans and it only takes 4-5 to cause illness. You can read more about it here: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/food/foodborneillnesscontaminants/ucm297627.pdf#page254
I’ve read that before, too. But my crockpot always boils after several hours of cooking beans. If yours doesn’t, then I guess don’t chance it. I suppose crockpots vary quite a bit.
I used to cook pintos with spices like cumin and chili powder. Now I prefer Pioneer Woman’s beans. Super simple and delicious. Throw in chopped bacon, salt, and pepper. You can look up her recipe for her exact measurements. My 6 yr. old son especially loves the fact that there’s bacon in it! lol. Perfect with cornbread. : )
I always add salt when cooking beans. They seem to cook more evenly now that I do that. And I think they cook best in the crockpot, as well. I always thought that soaking beans helps them cook quicker, and also helps make them more digestible. Maybe that’s not true?