After soaking, rinse beans and add to a stockpot. Cover the beans with three times their volume of water. Add herbs or spices as desired. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender. The cooking time depends on the type of bean, but start checking after 45 minutes. Add more water when the beans become uncovered.
- Add salt or acidic ingredients, such as vinegar, tomatoes or juice, near the end of the cooking time, when the beans are just tender. When these ingredients are added too early, they can make the beans tough and slow the cooking process.
- Beans are done when they can be easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork.
- To freeze cooked beans for later use, immerse them in cold water until cool, then drain well and freeze.
- One pound of dried beans yields about 5 or 6 cups cooked beans. A 15.5-ounce can of beans equals about 1 2/3 cups beans, drained and cooked.
Finally, canned legumes make quick additions to dishes that don't require long simmering. Just be sure to rinse prepared and canned legumes to remove some of the Sodium added during processing.
Consider these ways to incorporate more legumes into your meals and snacks:
- Prepare soups, stews and casseroles that feature legumes.
- Use pureed beans as the basis for dips and spreads.
- Add chickpeas or black beans to salads. When you typically buy a salad at work and no beans are available, bring your own from home in a small container.
- Snack on a handful of soy nuts rather than on chips or crackers.
Beans and other legumes can lead to the formation of intestinal gas. Here are several ways to reduce the flatulence inducing quality of legumes:
- Change the water several times during soaking. Don't use the soaking water to cook the beans. The water will have absorbed some of the gas-producing indigestible sugars.
- Use canned beans the canning process eliminates some of the gas-producing sugars.
- Simmer beans slowly until they are tender. This makes them easier to digest.
- Use digestive aids, such as Beano, when eating legume dishes to reduce the amount of gas they produce.