Mommy Cafe

Vegetarian home cooking, kid tested and approved

Cooking Dried Beans

Beans are a staple in our house, as I’m sure is the case in most vegetarian households.  One of the best discoveries I made this year was how easy it is to cook dried beans and freeze them for later use.  When I know I’ll be needing beans for dinner, I take what I need out of the freezer in the morning and let them thaw in the fridge.  Or if it’s a last minute decision, I pop the lid off the container and put it in the microwave on defrost for a minute or two.  The beans surprisingly keep their consistency even after being frozen and thawed.

Here are several reasons for switching from canned to dried:

  • Save money. A bag of dried beans costs around a dollar and yields about 6 cups when cooked.  That is equal to 3 cans of beans, which can cost a dollar or more per can!
  • Control your portions. Sometimes a whole can is just too much.  I portion out my beans in 1/2 cup, 1 cup, and 2 cup containers so that I always have the right amount for what I need.
  • Preservative free. Canned goods are packed with preservatives, which is necessary if you don’t want to eat spoiled food.  However, cooking dried beans and freezing them eliminates the need for preservatives.
  • Reduce salt consumption. By cooking your own beans, you decide how much salt to add.  You can leave out the salt entirely or add just one teaspoon for the entire bag.
  • Customize to your tastes. I make a lot of Mexican dishes with black beans.  So I usually throw in some cumin and cilantro when I cook the beans to give them an extra flavor boost.
  • Conserve waste. Instead of throwing out three tin cans, I only have one small plastic bag going into the trash.  Also, I reuse plastic yogurt, sour cream, and hummus containers to freeze the beans.  Bonus!
  • Reduce emissions. This was a nice surprise!  With dried beans, the post-bean gas in our house more or less disappeared.

Many people shy away from dried beans because of the time involved to cook them.  While cooking up the beans is a time-consuming process, it’s almost all set-and-forget.  From start to finish it takes about 2 1/2 hours using the quick soak method.  Take that time to complete a cleaning project, organize the cupboards, watch a movie, or read a book.  The beans ask for very little of your attention!

Quick Soak

Rinse and sort beans in a large pot.  To 1 pound of beans, add 6 to 8 cups of hot water.  Bring to a rapid boil; boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Cover and let stand 1 hour.  Drain and rinse beans.

Cooking Directions

Add 6 cups of water to drained and rinsed beans.  Simmer gently with lid tilted until desired tenderness is reached, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.


During cook time, add 1 bay leaf and 1 teaspoon each salt, cumin, and cilantro.  Reduce cook time by 1/2 hour.


Servings: 6 cups cooked beans (2 cups=1 can)


November 5, 2010 - Posted by | Food for thought | ,


  1. Great write-up. Love the list of benefits!
    Thanks for posting.

    Comment by Andrew | November 6, 2010 | Reply

  2. Good job, Becky – you gave me a good idea – I use a lot of beans in different recipes, but never thought of cooking my own – and I really like your list of benefits, especially the health benefits.

    Comment by Patty | November 6, 2010 | Reply

  3. […] this meal even less costly by using your dried cooked chickpeas.  I used 2 cups of chickpeas thawed from the freezer.  The original recipe also called for ghee […]

    Pingback by Chickpea Jalfrezi « Mommy Cafe | February 5, 2011 | Reply

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