slow cooking expert and mom to three
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A Year of Slow Cooking

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cooking Dried Beans in the Slow Cooker


Day 292.

It's day 292. And I finally have cracked the cooking-with-dried vs. cooking-with-canned-beans code.

Why did it take me 292 days?

Sheer laziness. I have no other reason.

1 bag of dried black beans costs $1.89 at the fancy-pants grocery store, and it costs $0.89 at our local produce stand.

1 can of organic black beans at Trader Joe's costs $0.99.

1 dried bag of black beans (16 oz) = 3 cans (15 oz each).

Which means even if you buy over-priced dried black beans you will save some money making them at home yourself.

The Ingredients.

--bag of black beans (or other beans. but remember that kidney beans have that freaky toxin -see note below.)
--water
--crockpot (4 quarts and up)

The Directions.

Pour the entire bag of dried beans into a colander and rinse under cold water. If you see any beans that have broken in half, or skin that floats to the surface, get rid of it. Also pick out any beans that look shriveled and gross.

Dump all the beans into your crockpot. Add enough water to cover all the beans and an additional 2 inches.

Cover. Do not turn on. Let the beans soak for at least 6 hours, or overnight. If you live in a very warm area, and the crockpot won't be in a room that is climate-controlled, put the stoneware in the fridge. You don't want bacteria to have the opportunity to grow.

In the morning, dump the water, and rinse your beans. The water will be bean-colored.

(NOTE: if you are using red or kidney beans, you need to boil your beans rapidly on the stove for at least 10 minutes to kill a possible toxin lurking in the beans. It's better to be safe than sorry!)

Put the beans back into your crockpot and cover with enough fresh water to completely cover the beans with an extra 2-3 inches.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

The beans are done when they are bite-tender. Don't worry if the water hasn't all absorbed. You're going to dump it, anyway.

Drain the beans.

When cool, put 1 2/3 cups of beans into storage containers or freezer bags (you're adding this amount because you aren't adding filler-liquid like the cans have). The beans will store nicely in the refrigerator for 1 week, or in the freezer for 6 months.

Use as you would canned beans in your favorite recipe.

The Verdict.

I like knowing what is in my food. I like the idea that we can save money and reduce consumption by using dried beans.

This takes a while. When I do this again, I'm going to get quite a few bags of beans and do them all at once in a few crockpots. The kids liked picking through the beans to weed out the undesirables, and they will munch on black beans (and garbanzo and pinto and kidney) for a snack, which makes me happy.

I've found a chart that breaks down the energy consumption of kitchen appliances.
The chart states that the energy consumption is equivalent to a desktop computer---which many of us leave on round-the-clock.


neat!

150 comments:

Donna said...

ah. This is what I needed. I needed someone to spell it out for me.

thank you. thank you so very very very much.

Dana said...

I have been reading your blog since I saw you on TV. You're awesome...Love you sense of humor! I just found out I'm allergic to WHEAT, so your website is SO helpful with all the GF recipes. Thanks SO much. By the way, I tried the layered dinner last night, but with chicken instead of beef. The chicken and potatoes were delicious, but the corn was horrible.
Thanks again...Wanna come over for dinner??
~~Dana

Crockpot Lady said...

you're welcome, Donna!

Hi Dana, I'm so sorry to hear about your wheat allergy diagnosis. The first few months are the hardest.

I wonder what happened with the corn? I've cooked it quite a few times with no trouble. I'm sorry it didn't work out for you.

xox
steph

MaryLu said...

2 cents an hour? Wow! I've got to start using mie more.
Have you figured out a way to make pizza in a crock? ha ha!
Love your site! Keep up the good work!

Charlotte (Matilda) said...

I have cooked beans in the crockpot before without soaking them and they seem to turn out fine. Any reason why you have to soak them?

Lynn said...

I have been doing dried beans in the crock pot for a couple of months. I am now trying to avoid packaged and processed foods as much as possible. I realized beans was an easy way to do that. I agree doing a lot at once seems to work best. I make up 2-3lbs at a time and than freeze them.

Mir said...

I love you a little more every day. This is brilliant! I have an extra freezer, so I'm definitely going to do this.

Crockpot Lady said...

Hi Charlotte!

yes. I know. (it's to, um, release the gas. :-D )

xoxo
steph

Charlotte said...

yInteresting.. I have been told not to soak black beans- they tend to come apart when I do. I soak: pinto, garbanzo and lima beans. I don't soak black, red and white beans. BTW, love all your great recipes.

Stephanie said...

Thanks thats great information.

Lisa said...

Thank you for the concise instructions on how to soak the beans in the crockpot. In the past I've tried soaking beans on the stove with varied outcomes. I'm going try again using your instructions.
Lisa

Rachel said...

I've cooked beans in my crockpot for a long time and don't presoak them. I just put them in at breakfast time and by dinner they are ready for me to use in my favorite recipe. They cook through completely. I've read/heard that presoaking only reduces the "gas factor" a little but that by presoaking and dumping the water, you are getting rid of nutrients and flavor. Also, if you eat beans on a regular basis, your body gets used to them and won't react quite so negatively to their infamous nature.

Veronica said...

Okay, I'm from the South, and truly, that is the ONLY way I cook Red Beans!! I'll start the night before. After cooking overnight, I'll add sausage that has been sliced and cook for another couple of hours! Serve over rice and you have the BEST, creamy beans and rice you've ever tasted!!!!

CookinG said...

I tried using dried beans in your baked bean recipe last week. I soaked the pinto's over night then put in the crock in the AM and cooked on low for 10 hours. They were still crunchy and gross. What did I do wrong?

Crockpot Lady said...

CookinG--I don't know for sure. Do you live in a high elevation?

Did you use the boston baked beans recipe? I think since I used canned beans for that, there wasn't enough liquid for the beans to absorb to soften properly.

I'm so sorry things didn't work out well.

xox
steph

Sarah M. said...

were they as soft as canned beans though? inquiring minds are curious. that's always been what's stopped me...

Patti said...

I love cooking beans in the slow cooker. They make the perfet meal for those really cold days. My boys love pinto beans. They get home from school and the entire house smells so good.
I have canned my black beans, but never tried to cook them like this. I will try this the next time they beg for beans.
Thank you so much!

Amie said...

You are just sucking all the fun out of eating! Of course kidney beans are my favorite kind of beans, and now I'm going to be too paranoid to eat them!

(I must admit that when I first started reading that link, I thought it was going to be a joke related to why and how beans are musical...too bad it wasn't a joke)

PS: that bean-colored water thing scares me. it shouldn't, but it does.

aurora said...

I am new to your blog, but love it! Thanks for the original ideas on ways to use our crockpots.

Jaelyn's Fairy Dust Cupcake Blog said...

Wasn't the kidney bean thing for "raw" kidney beans and not cooked ones?

Org Junkie said...

This is fantastic, thank you. We love black beans in this house :)

~M said...

Awesome post! Anyone try adding spices, pieces of garlic, or a bay leaf to the water?

If you're using the beans in a recipe that has a decent amount of liquid, would you just soak them, dump the liquid, and proceed with the recipe? Or would you cook them first in the crockpot?

Dried garbanzos are SO good! Much more nutty! I buy Arrowhead Mills from Amazon Grocery!

Also, when you freeze the packages, do you have to defrost them before putting them in a recipe, crockpot or otherwise?

Thanks, Crockpot Goddess!

nmckeand said...

ONce you do it, it is so simple you wonder why you ever bothered opening a can! I cooked beans a variety of other ways before deciding a number years ago to try them in the CrockPot. I wouldn't do them any other way now!

Jennifer said...

I'm confused about the red beans thing. What is this toxin? Can you soak/cook kidney beans in the crock? Should you soak first or just cook? Thanks!

Jennifer

Crockpot Lady said...

Hi Jennifer,
to access the article, click on the highlighted link I posted.

here is an excerpt, with the recommendation:

NOTE: The following procedure has been recommended by the PHLS (Public Health Laboratory Services, Colindale, U.K.) to render kidney, and other, beans safe for consumption:
* Soak in water for at least 5 hours.
* Pour away the water.
* Boil briskly in fresh water for at least 10 minutes.
* Undercooked beans may be more toxic than raw beans.

Sources: FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition.
BAD BUG BOOK (Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook).

bensrib said...

kidney beans - who knew? That sorta freaked me out. Do let us know if you do pinto beans (or white beans) in the crock with a ham hock or some kind of flavoring. My brother makes the best beans and hubby loves them. Mind always turn out flat and dull.

Mother Hen said...

Ya know, I cook beans in my crockpot all the time, but I never, never thought of cooking them to freeze and use in place of canned beans in recipes. Thanks!

Kris said...

I use this recipe for Cramy Slow Cooker Beans:
http://kitchenparade.com/2008/02/pork-poblano-skillet-with-creamy-slow.php

Even easier - no soaking required! and oh so delicious!

katherine said...

Thank you so much for this. I knew there was a way to cook beans in the crock pot and now I know what it is.

Mimi said...

Cooking When I make baked beans using dried beans I cook the beans overnight in the slow cooker in just salted water before adding the ingredients. The acid in ketchup/bbq sauce and mustard can make it take much longer for the beans to cook so I have found it's much better to have already cooked beans.

Amiyrah said...

wow, thanks for posting this. I never knew that you could freeze the beans. That was my main reason for not making them myself. I could never see going through all of that work to only have a week to use them up. This is awesome!

Satsuki Rebel said...

Thank you so much for this post! I've tried cooking dried beans before, letting them soak overnight, etc. Let's just say the results of my experiments have been inedible at best.

Rachel said...

Yay!!
I'm with Donna-- I needed someone to spell this out for me.

Over the years I've been annoyed with myself for continuing to use canned beans rather than starting with dry, but I just hadn't ever been successful/patient enough.

But the guilt-factor really gets to me-- not just the increased expense of canned beans, but the processing/packaging/shipping issues that compound it-- I know that cooking my own is better on many levels! I just haven't done it.

(Here's a guilt-trip-loop for you: if I use canned, I need to rinse out the cans for recycling. But there is always smushy bean goo at the bottom that doesn't want to come out. So as I try to rinse the can I'm wasting potable water. Is it worth the water waste to recycle the can??)

(This makes it sound like I'm a totally obsessive environmentalist, and I'm actually not at all. I just think too much.)

Anyway, thank you for the instructions, Stephanie! :)

Michawn said...

i know that OBVIOUSLY this is a crockpot blog (which i LOVE by the way), but i just wanted to also let you know about the new way that i've found to cook beans. i moved to brazil a little over a year ago and nobody cooks beans any other way than this...in a pressure cooker. no soaking, just sort, rinse, and put in the pressure cooker with water. 4o minutes later, you have cooked, great-tasting beans (as long as you add some seasoning, that is...i just throw in a bouillon cube or 2 when i cook them). we have zero problem with gas too...maybe the pressure? not sure. anyway, i will never ever cook beans another way again.

again, know this is all about crockpots, but just wanted to share in case you didn't know this. love your blog.

Gretchen Noelle said...

I love your simple take on these. I love making my own beans but haven't ventured to do them this simply in the crockpot. Great thinking!

Stephanie said...

I'm glad you did this post. I love using dried beans, but wasn't sure exactly how to do it in the crock pot. Thanks!

Tracey said...

This was such a helpful post today! Thanks so very much!! We go through so many canned beans, and they are not cheap!!!

I'm going to try this very soon. :)

Anonymous said...

Cooks Illustrated did a study a while back and found that boiling the dried beans in water for 10 min, then letting them sit for an hour, then rinsing and cooking them in the crockpot with liquid reduced the "gas factor" more than any other method. I have always pre-soaked my beans and often use this technique when I forget to start soaking them the night before.
Of course fresh beans are even better. A farmer shared this tip with me when you can't eat them right away: put them in a zip lock bag, just cover them with hot water from the tap, and stick them in the freezer. When you are ready, pull them out and boil them for 20 min. Yum! Of course with the plastic scare, I may not be doing this anymore.
Michelle

Charlotte (Matilda) said...

Perhaps next year, the Crockpot Lady will be the Pressure Cooker Lady?

Brenna Kater, the Oceanskater said...

This is awesome! And I guessed it was about 2/3 of a cup of dried beans for one can of beans (1 pound dry is about 2 cups dry). Rock on.

Michelle said...

I am so happy to read this post! I will be doing this ASAP! THANK YOU for all the great information. I have always loved my crock pot, but now I am obsessed! I hope you consider going past 365 days :>)

Natalie said...

Whoah, what a coinkydink, lol...how did you know I spent way too long in front of the dried beans at Publix today wishing I knew how to cook them because their prices are so good. I didn't buy a single one. I'm not intimidated anymore, thank you <|:^)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

My crockpot method is a bit different. I put the picked-over dry beans into the cooker, add water to cover by two inches, and set the cooker on low for 18 hours. That's it!

snarflemarfle said...

My crockpot is mostly used for making beans. My current "recipe" is soaked beans, one package of Onion Soup Mix and one package of brauts (or a ham hock...just depends on if I want to eat meat with the beans or not). I put that all in the pot and cover it with chicken broth. Cook all day! Yummy!!

Karah said...

Oooh I JUST bought a bag of black beans at the store this week in the hopes of figuring out how to cook them! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

Chris said...

I just heard about your crockpot blog and I'm so excited to explore! I saw your info about beans. You can go a little further with this. Don't just put them into your fridge or freezer, but make it a simple and healthy meal. I put several toppings in bowls on the table so that my picky eaters can be choosy, but I use everything. Add cheese, fresh chopped onions, cilantro, tomatoes, and chicken. Cut up extras and it can be lunch all week! There are 6 in our family and everyone loves it! I use 2 cups beans and 5 cups water. You don't have to drain anything off and it's the perfect amount for our family.

eileen said...

Hi Stephanie- I think your new name should be " Crockpot Goddess" very fitting. I never knew they had white
kidney beans before your blog-my hubby doesn't like the red ones-so now we use white...not problem. lol
thanks for the new bean recipes-love to be able to save money.

Kathy said...

Stephanie,
Thanks so much for all of the great ideas!
I read somewhere in one of my **many** cookbooks, that when you cook dry beans in the crockpot that you should not add salt or sugar (as in baked beans) until the beans have become soft. Something about the salt/sugar/bean reaction to the low heat that won't allow the beans to become completely soft. I have made "bean soup" in the crockpot using navy beans, left the salt out until the end and they turned out great. I have not tried making baked beans or any other bean recipe with sugar in the crockpot.

painted maypole said...

thank you, thank you! I've been wanting to use dried beans instaed of canned for a while now, but didn't know how to make it work. Now I do! :)

Anonymous said...

I love using the crockpot for beans, too. My husband likes the beans really mushy, though, so I put them on to soak the afternoon before, then drain and add fresh water before bed. They cook on low all night. In the morning, I drain most of the liquid and add a jar or two of salsa, and let it cook all day (on low). We eat it like a thick soup topped with cheese and sour cream. It's yummy with triscuits or tortilla chips, too.

Bev

Diane-The Whole Gang said...

I love how you remind us to use our smarts to take care of ourselves by making our food from single ingredients and for saving money. You rock! I’m getting my black beans out tonight so I can follow your recipe to then make Karina’s Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchildas. It’s going to be a good week.

MariaTeresa.Faith said...

Gosh, I didn't know that kidney beans contained a toxin! Thanks for the link to the Food Reference Website. Thanks also for directions to cook beans in the crockpot. I have a bag of dry beans sitting in the cupboard, but didn't really know how to prepare them. Thanks to you, now I do! :-)

Paulineh said...

You have a great blog here and I hope you can keep going for years. In regard to the beans though I find as I work full time the reason I use the crock pot is for convenience so when I come home the food is cooked so I think Ill just keep on using the canned variety right now. I would always soak my beans so maybe on the weekend sometime Ill give it a go. Keep up the good work.

midwesternhousewife said...

Your kids snack on beans???? My kids go screaming for the hills!! How do you make it for them? I would love some other tips, too, on how you prepare all these healthy snacks you make for your kids.

Jenn said...

How did you know that I was just going to stock up on dried beans at the grocery store tomorrow but didn't know quite how to cook them? Now I don't have to muddle through the cooking! :D

Cindy (and Brian) said...

This is fantastic! I am excited to do this...I've been wanting to add beans to my babies' diet but all the canned varieties seem to have sodium. I've always had so much anxiety about messing with the dried beans because I didn' know how and where to begin. This is just perfect! Thank you!

Blakely said...

I have been wanting to cook with more dry ingredients, but I didn't know how to start. THanks for the info.

TJ said...

Also if you forget to put the beans in overnight, you can quick soak em on the stove before adding them to the crockpot.

We do this with pinto beans all the time. Add some garlic and onion powder and cook all day. Come home make cornbread and then top the beans with chopped onions and cheese. Plus any leftover pintos make great refried beans (you don't actually fry them, just mash and cook in a pan, or even in a crock to remove extra water) for later in the week.

Shannon said...

I am getting ready to do this with pinto beans for my next attempt at your boston baked beans recipe. I can't wait to try it again. I absolutely LOVED the sauce from the boston baked recipe, but I used canned kidney beans like you did and my beans were still way to firm after cooking for 9 hours! I couldn't believe that would happen with canned beans. They were by no means dried out, there was a lot of yummy juice, but the beans were just still kind of hard. Maybe like 'mimi' said, the spices and such in the sauce had something to do with the beans not softening. I also doubled the recipe and made it in my 6 quart pot so that might have had something to do with it. Any suggestions?

AJ said...

I hope you go back in posts...I just want to clarify...you soak the beans, cook the beans, and THEN cook them again if they are in a recipe?

And you soak, cook, freeze, then thaw and again cook in any recipe?

(At the moment, I am talking about Great Northern Beans in a White Chicken Chili Recipe.)

Thanks! I was just introduced to your blog and I love it!!!

AJ said...

I hope you go back in posts...I just want to clarify...you soak the beans, cook the beans, and THEN cook them again if they are in a recipe?

And you soak, cook, freeze, then thaw and again cook in any recipe?

(At the moment, I am talking about Great Northern Beans in a White Chicken Chili Recipe.)

Thanks! I was just introduced to your blog and I love it!!!

Fran said...

Thanks for the extra bit about energy consumption. The thought of what it actually costs in electricity to cook beans has put me off in the past.

Crockpot Lady said...

AJ,
yes. Soak, dump, cook on low, freeze or refrigerate, and then use the same way you would canned beans.
xoxo
steph

Meleah said...

So, just as another side comment, when making beans and putting a ham bone in, I found you can get ham bones at the Honeybaked Ham stores. My store does 2 small ones (which are still about 1.5 lbs each!) or one big 3+ lb one for $5. It may seem like a lot, but if you've ever tasted a honeybaked ham, you'll know why they make the best ham bones. Also, there is enough meat on them for 2 or 3 sandwiches, it's actually almost too much meat for a pot of beans. I have never bought a store ham bone again... I just go to the Honeybaked Ham store and buy 6 or 7 and freeze them. Usually in the morning before 11:30 AM is the best time to go.
Steph, I go to your blog EVERY DAY! I'm addicted! LOVE IT! Keep up the good work.

Lyssa said...

I love your black bean soup recipe from way back and am pretty pumped to make my own beans for it - for both the cost and environmental factors. One question: That recipe calls for adding the beans with the liquid in the can. Since there will be no liquid with these, should I just add more broth or do something else? Thanks!

Crockpot Lady said...

Ah! good question, Lyssa! I don't know for sure. What if you added 1/2 of water and then salted to taste when finished? I think the bean goop is mostly salty slime.

xox
steph

Juice said...

My easy go-to recipe for beans is this: Take 1 bag of dried black beans, soak overnight in a dutch oven and boil briefly in the morning to get the gas out. Throw in the slow cooker with 1 packet of Goya Sazon flavoring and cook all day. Serve with rice - yum. Only problem is that Sazon has MSG for those sensitive to it. Super easy and tastes delicious.

kkbrink said...

We have been doing refried beans in the crockpot for months now and it is a great alternative! We used to do them on the stove and it was such a mess! The crockpot keeps it neat and all contained! What a great idea!

Robin Dawn said...

Wow, thanks for the info on the raw bean toxins. I had never heard of this until I read it here. I cannot imagine why it has taken me so long to find this out, as I have read alot on bean cooking. I absolutley love beans, and cannot understand how someone could not, like my brother, but that is a whole different story.. PICKY.
I love to make my own beans, and homemade tortillas on a cool autumn or winter day, it is such a comfy meal...
Thanks again.
Robin Dawn

Lyssa said...

Thanks for the idea. To report back: I tried (twice) adding additional water (didn't measure, probably around 1/2c) in lieu of can bean goop and it's worked out just fine. Probably better. I added the water to the blender when whacking up the random veggies in the prep stage, which had the added benefit of making things easier on my blender. Thanks!

met said...

To Cooking: I don't know if this will help, but I came from a family that loves bean soup. In the last 20 years off and on I tried to make it and the beans were always tough. I spent a great deal of time on the internet to see what to do, and many times came across the advice that you can't use hard water (which I had). About 4 years ago we got a water softener, and 2 years ago got a new frig that filters water in the door. A few months ago I tried making bean soup and used the filtered water from the frig. This was the first time in 20 years that my bean soup had nice, tender beans. I don't know if this applies to you, but thought I would mention it.

met said...

If I've left more than one message, I apologize - just signed up to leave a message and have already typed it 3 times. Couldn't tell if it went thru.

To Cooking: I grew up in a family that loved bean soup, For the last 20 years whenever I tried to make it, the beans were tough. I tried crockpot, pressure cooker, you name it. I read in various places on the internet that you shouldn't use hard water. I had hard water (but didn't really think that was the problem), but about 4 years ago we got a water softener, and a couple years ago got a new frig with filtered water in the door. A few months back I tried making bean soup again and used filtered water from the frig door. For the first time in 20 years the beans were really tender. I don't know if this might be your problem or not, but wanted to mention it.

dMw said...

I have hard water too and this recipe produced inedible hard black beans... What a bummer. Any suggestions for getting around harder water? Salting the water?

Linh said...

Did anyone else have problems with the beans staining the crockpot? I guess it's not staining - looks like it. It's just really hard to clean off. I soaked it in water for a few hours and still had a hard time, so I am soaking it some more in hot water.

Rita said...

Please make sure to cook your beans on high in your crockpot. I have cooked all sorts of beans for years, and got violently ill after cooking red beans on low in my crockpot. Red beans have high level of toxins and MUST boil for 10 minutes to kill those toxins!!!

amber27 said...

lovely! this is exactly what i was looking for. made a 16 bean soup mix exactly as specified and it's turned out perfect!

Anonymous said...

Linh-- Delayed response, you might not come back to read it, but it might help others:

To unstick goop from the crock, fill to above "food line" with warm to hot water, add a couple tablespoons of automatic dishwasher powder (or borax or washing soda, a combo of which I use as my dishwasher detergent), and cook on high for a couple hours. The crud comes right off. The same trick works for burned stuff on the bottom of pans. Mix in pan, bring to boil, turn down and simmer for awhile. Magic!

Dawn said...

Wow, love this site. I decided to try cooking beans in my crockpot yesterday. Its been 24 hours on low after soaking them all night and they are still really crunchy. I don't know what to do to make them softer, so I will continue to let them cook until they are soft enough for us to eat. Next time I may cook the beans first before putting them in the crockpot. I am glad I have found your site and will be checking it regularly.
Dawn

Shannon Ryan said...

I just made the black beans! I didn't soak them though, just rinsed then turned on low from 7pm until morning! Then transfered them to 2 3cup bowls (which equals 3.5 cans- and I usually use two cans when cooking with beans) PERFECT!! Thanks for the inspiration, I Dont use my crock nearly enough!

kristalized808 said...

Do you know: I have white beans in my slowcooker, been there a while now...they usually smell "odd" shen soaking & cooking but this time they smell REALLY ODD. Like spaghetti-o vomit. Why do they stink so much? Do you think they are bad? Like I said, I have done this before & they usually smell like this but not this strongly...help?

Crockpot Lady said...

Hi Kristal,
I don't know. It sounds weird. I've always followed the "when in doubt, throw it out" rule of thumb. I'm worried your beans might be rancid.
eeps.
--steph

Deb said...

Great post! Found you on a google search. To clean a crockpot, or stainless, or just about anything, really, I like to use Barkeepers Friend. You can usually find it next to the cleansers at the grocery stores.

As for beans that don't get soft, a lot of times beans you get at the grocery can be very old, and old beans can take forever to get soft, if they get soft at all, because the seed coat is so hard. It's an extra step, but boiling them on top of the stove for 10 minutes before transferring to the crockpot can help soften the seed coat.

If you want to treat yourself, fresh heirloom beans are truly amazing.

= ) Deb

jerkinshomestead said...

I guess I will give up on canned beans and go this route. I have a slow cooker, new in box since my bridal shower..err, 2 years ago!

Jen said...

Hi Steph - just wanted to say thanks for this! My almost 1 year old is allergic to chicken and has a hard time with other meats, so she eats a lot of beans for protein. I would have have no idea what to do with these or how to use them if it weren't for you, so thank you, very much. Eden thanks you too. :)

Jen

Aimee said...

this is the best crockpot site ever! I love knowing all the details about whats in the food as well as how energy, environmentally conservative we CAN be when we try. Thank you SO SO much!

Holly said...

Thank you so much for your instructions! I haven't made dry beans in a Crock Pot in ages and I needed a bit of a refresher course. I started soaking my beans last night and cooked them all day today and they turned out great! :)

Amanda on Maui said...

Russ Parsons, the author of How to Read a French Fry states that it is not necessary to soak your beans before cooking unless they are more than a year old. The older beans are, the harder they become, thus increasing the cook time.

It may also be useful if you have hard water.

Salting beans at the beginning of cooking is also acceptable, and so is adding acidic foods (i.e. tomatoes) as long as they aren't a major component.

Amanda on Maui said...

Oh, and Parsons also states that the flatulence isn 't actually removed by soaking. However, flavor is.

MBG said...

I actually sprout dry beans before cooking. Soak them overnight. Put them in a big plastic colander and put collander in a bowl to catch drips. Cover top of colandar with plasic or a plate to keep off dust. Rinse beans with cool water at least three times a day, until they sprout tiny tails.(Three or four days?) Rinse them another time, and cook. Increases vitamins and tenderness, and decreases gas.

MBG said...

I cook beans and grains separately, using any beans I like, and any whole grains. Then, using plastic containers that are OK for freezing and microwaving, I put a scoop of beans and one of grain in each I add any liquid I like, tomato juice, broth, canned veggies with their liquid, and any raw freezable veggies. I sprinkle on some herbs, spices, and/or some meat or cheeze. I freeze that. When cold, I add a handful of chopped frozen veggies, of any kind, put the lids back on the containers and return to freezer. I take a container to work, stick it in the microwave for 5 minutes, and chow down. I vary them as I make them, and surprize myself with a new "recipe" each day. Of course, if you like predictability, You can use recipes, measure carefully, and label everything.

Tibor said...

I have been trying to use my slow cooker and eat basic foods more, and since I eat alot of beans this sounds great. Do you add any seasonings or spices to the beans to kick them up a bit? Do you have a post for cooking black eyed peas?

Anonymous said...

i guess I gotta be an Anonymouse....

followed your instructions
got back too late! my beans were moooooooshy and without flavor :(

drained them and set in fridge, wondering what I would do with 1/2 bag of mooshie beans

then a pal brought me a plate of barbecued beef links that I could not eat... they were too peppered, my belly got all cranky

so: one onion sweated in Crockpot, one can tomato dice, 20 oz. turkey stock, leftover BBQ sausage without casings and 1/2 package cooked dry black beans = one pot Serindipitous Sausage/Black Bean soup :) which does not pinch my belly at all :D

I will serve with a dollop of sour cream tomorrow. THANK YOU! Your example encourages me to experiment.

/me gives Stephanie 10000001 huggleses

Pammy said...

I am here to set the record straight about pre-soaking beans overnight.

Not sure if the Crockpot makes the difference but last week I purchased a new Crockpot. The only reason why I went searching for another one was because I needed a Crockpot that had a meat rack with it and did not feel like ordering one for my round Crockpot online. I found a nice 6 quart oval Crockpot with a digital display where you can set the time up to 20 hours and then it switches to low once the cooking time you set is done. It also came with a bonus meat rack.

Well I decided to give beans a try. I decided not to presoak my beans. Even when cooking on the stove I never presoak beans so I figured why start now. I picked through the beans to get rid of the ones I did not like and rinse them in a colander a few times with cold water.

I put the beans in my Crockpot with about 6 cups of water (1/2 way up the Crockpot). Since my grocery store was out of ham hocks I used a large piece of Jowl bacon. I stuck that in the center of my Crockpot added some seasoning and turned it on low.

Decided to look on the internet to see how long it will take I started getting nervous because everything I read suggested you presoak to cut cooking time down otherwise it could take 10+ hours to get your beans tender. I decided to go downstairs and check on them. I took a spoon and put some in a bowl to taste and guess what? To my surprise they were tender and tasted YUMMMY… I used that opportunity since I took the top off to season the beans a bit more, did another taste test and they were perfect.

I put those beans on at 10:00 am and it was 3:00 when I went to check on them. I had them on low all that time. So to answer the question whether you need to presoak you beans overnight or cook them in boiling water before you put them in your Crockpot? My answer is NO.

I have them cooking for 3 more hours on low and then they will switch to warm and be done by the time we come home from the gym this evening.

I am so excited I can’t wait for dinner. Now I will no longer be afraid of cooking beans in my Crockpot again.

I have made so many wonderful dishes in my Crockpot I need to consider starting my own cookbook instead of buying them.

Stephanie O'Dea said...

Hi Pammy,

I'm so glad that you're getting good use out of your slow cooker. You are actually right on that in order for beans to cook nicely, there is no reason for pre-soaking. The soaking is more for the bean gas. Some people are quite bothered by the gas, but others are not. Also, in super high altitudes, non-soaked beans will take about 15 hours to soften nicely, and that seems like a long time when you want dinner or a snack!

Also, you DO need to parboil all red beans (that means kidneys, too!) in a rolling boil for at least 10 minutes before slow cooking. This is because these beans can harbor a toxin that can make you quite sick, and it needs to be killed.

thank you so much for your post, you are definitely right, and I'm so glad that everything is working out well for you and your cooker.

xoxo steph

Sheila O'Kelly said...

Thanks so much. This is just what I needed this morning.

Rebecca said...

Thanks for posting this. No one mentioned that for those of us who are on sodium restricted diets...you can cook these with NO SALT. Until you've had to watch your salt intake, you never realize how much salt is added to everything...including canned beans! We love cooking beans ahead...and freezing...and what's easier than cooking in our beloved crockpot!

benitezbug said...

Thank you for posting this! Very helpful!

noelove said...

Thank you thank you thank you! This is perfect! I'm going to make some right now.

Kathie in Granite City said...

I have a question on using beans that have been soaking for a week! Yep! I put them in a plastic pitcher, put water on them, and put them in the fridge. That afternoon, I landed in the hospital for a week. I'm home now and wondering if I can use them. The fridge, of course, stayed very cold because no one was here to open it.

I took the beans out of the fridge. They had absorbed ALL of the water, and had conformed to the shape of the pitcher at the bottom 2 - 3". I've rinsed them. They dont smell. Can I use them or would the longgggg soaking make them harmful? I don't think so, but I'd feel better if I got some opinions on this.

I love this blog. As a disabled woman, I love using the crockpot. There's less mess to clean up, I have a few meals to freeze, and I don't have to stand while it cooks. Win, Win, Win!

Stephanie O'Dea said...

oh gosh, Kathie. I don't know. I'm a "when in doubt throw it out" type of person. I'd hate for you or anyone else to get sick.

--steph

Amy Joel said...

You give the best instructions! Is one and 2/3 cups the amount for all types of beans (to equal a can) or just for black beans?

Stephanie O'Dea said...

Hi Amy Joel,

I kind of eyeball it with other beans. Lima and Great Northern Beans are pretty big when they cook up, so I do about 1 1/2 cups for them.

xoxo steph

BethGould said...

I Googled "crockpot beans", and of course your blog popped up LOL! I should have just come here first, since you are the reigning Crockpot Queen.

I just bought a programmable Crock Pot, 5.5 qts, because my old one had an accident involving the cord and a stove burner. Tonight I'm going to soak a bag of navy beans, and tomorrow will be the Christening Day of my new Crock Pot! I was worried about getting it right, but now I'm not, thanks to your blog.

Kay said...

While my husband and I have been meaning to make dried beans for years now, we used canned because ...well...planning ahead isn't our forte. Canned are just so convenient. However, since having a baby we learned all too much about BPA, a nasty little chemical in plastic and in the lining of canned goods. http://www.govlink.org/hazwaste/schoolyouth/BPA.html So, another great reason to cook your own beans. I knew there had to be a way of cooking them in the slow cooker. Glad to find your blog which didn't say "cook until tender" (It's a slow cooker. Does that mean 4,8, 12 or 24 hours?!?!) like other articles!!

Stephanie said...

When I try soaking black beans, they turn a strange purple color. If I try to use them in recipes after soaking them for 8 hours, they cook unevenly and look weird. (Some are the expected dark color, but aren't really ready, others are faded and soft.) What am I doing wrong? Is my crockpot cursed?

Patrick Casebere said...

In order to find the true (economical) cost, you must take into account the energy consumption of your crock-pot, and how much your utility company charges. Both rates vary with crock-pot model, and utility company. I hope this all makes sense. That $0.02 an hour is a bit misleading.. but this is just my $0.02 worth.

Ryan said...

After the beans are cooked, drain them and then mash them with a potato masher, adding back the liquid as needed.
There you have fat free refried beans. Just cook them with the spices you want.

Anonymous said...

Give your plants a thrill and water them with the bean soak water. I don't know about red beans, but other bean soak water makes them VERY happy!

Melissa said...

I just tried this for the first time. After reading the comments I didn't know what to expect. Here was my experience: I decided to skip the soaking. I first checked my unsoaked black beans after they had cooked on low for 6 hours and they were already mushy. As I let them cool, they formed lovely little bean clumps :). If you are trying this for the first time, I suggest checking your beans at shorter intervals since the experiences of all the commenters have been so different. Regardless, the beans are yummy if not exactly beautiful.

Meg said...

Your recipe is SO helpful! I appreciate it so much. Just curious -- have you tried adding any herbs to the water when doing the 8 hour cook? I'm new to cooking beans, so would appreciate your advice if you have any on this! THANK YOU!

Stephanie said...

Love the site! I'm wondering about your recommendation for using the frozen beans. Do you just let them thaw in the fridge a day before using?

Also, in response to other comments - I have been making dried beans for a while and herbs are not helpful when making beans. However, putting 1/4-1/2 an onion (whole, not diced or chopped) in the pot with them adds a TON of flavor! Add don't put salt in the water. Add it to the beans afterwards; they soak it up better and you can use less.

Stephanie O'Dea said...

hi stephanie,
you can, or just run the bag under hot water enough to release the beans and then plop them into the cooker.
--steph

Anonymous said...

Herb flavor evaporates after long cooking, so don't add them until nearly ready to serve.
Sage keeps its flavor better than most.

tazolover said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog.

I use the crock all the time for pinto beans, and to add a little more flavor, I add a can of diced green chiles, onion, minced garlic and either chorizo or a few slices of bacon and cook all day.

P.S. I am a midnight soaker (or I soak the beans overnight), so I have not tried these ingredients with dry beans,

Michael said...

Thank you!
Looking for quite sometime for a simple laid out recipe.
Single guy so I need the step by step when it comes to non-BBQ instructions.
Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

My 1lb. of black beans got cooked in a 3qt. cooker in 6.5 hours. I'm sure glad I can make my own instead of the canned stuff. Thanks!

Liz said...

Love it! Thanks! So many good tips and I love a slow cooker full of good stuff when I come home at night! I just need to practice a little and get some white beans and the ham bone from Honey Baked and I'm in business!
Reminds me of Momma!
Liz

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog today. Will try two recipes which look excellent.
Here's my 2 cents on cooking with beans (we cook with them a lot):

1- One reason to avoid canned beans, apart from the additional cost, is the leaching of the lining in the cans into the food. Our sons are very sensitive to any level of toxicity and we have noted a difference when we removed canned food from our diet.

2- An alternative to the convenience of canned beans is to cook them ahead of time and freeze them flat in freezer bags. Then it's easy to break the amount you need for your recipe.

3- Here is the method we found to avoid flatulence associated with beans (based on 2 cups -no more- of dried beans):
- Rinse the beans under running water.
- Using a large pot, bring the beans to a boil under plenty of water. Once the beans have reached the boiling point, turn off the heat and leave for an hour.
- Drain and rinse very well.
- Cook using your preferred method. We prefer the pressure cooker as it cooks in 1/3 of the time (only half full with beans and water and with a few tablespoons of oil to control the foam). We haven't tried slow cooking them yet.
- Drain and rinse them very well.

Your beans are ready to use or store

Shawn said...

I could now write a blog called, A Year of Eating Beans. Followed your instructions pretty much verbatim and ended up with perfectly tasty black beans. It just so happens that I made a lot of them though. So it's been nothing but black beans eaten around here for days. Great post, blog, etc, thank you!

Barefoot Tyler said...

It seems you have quite a popular post here. I searched for how to do this and your site was the first one to come up. Looks like I'll be having black beans in 8 hours if all goes well. Thanks!

Alexis said...

ooo! I just found your blog recently and as I was making use of my crock pot I was wondering how "green" it was to use a crock pot vs a gas stove...I think your link re: kitchen appliances will help me to answer that question...thanks! :)

Gayze said...

I know this Beans in the Crockpot post was put up a couple of years ago, but I just came across it and had to say Thanks!

I've actually been searching for a way to cook beans that are less, erm, "potent", as I've developed some health issues which cause foods that never bothered me before to be a problem now. I was wondering if slow cooking beans would help with that. I've tried soaking over night, and doing the ten-minute boil and hour soak method before stove top cooking, but neither of those seem to be quite enough (though they do help).

I think I'll get brave and try the crock pot next.

Also, I've heard that tossing a bit of baking soda into the pre-soak water will help with the beans' "volatile properties". Is anyone familiar with that?

Anonymous said...

my mother taught me to soak (overnight) beans with baking soda and rinse well before using. I have done that for many years and pressure cooked them. In the last 7 year period, I have used a slow cooker more, and my pressure cooker less. In the crockpot change, I've cooked beans without pre-soaking at all (and of course no baking soda treatment). Either way has worked very well. Buying very old seed is a bummer....watch for much wrinkled old things in bags.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read through the entire 2+ years of responses, so I don't know if this has been mentioned.

DON'T THROW OUT THE "WATER" AFTER COOKING THE BEANS!!! Old-timers call this "pot liquor." Some would serve as a drink. But even better, it is fantastic as a broth for making rice, and it is an essential ingredient for making good refried beans. Any time a recipe calls for broth, consider if it would be good with bean broth.

Second, I never soak beans except if cooking time is a consideration (e.g., chickpeas). Rick Bayless in "Mexican Kitchen" says he has cooked 12000 lbs of beans every year for 10 years and does not soak. In my experience, one needs two things to avoid gas: (1) experience eating beans -- expect gas if you eat them once a month and (2) PROPERLY cooked beans. Undercooked beans will torture you. Give them time.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the receipe. Does the cook time vary depending on what size crockpot? I have a Rival 6 qt crockpot. I cooked it on low for 8 hours and the beans aren't done. I then cooked it on high for 6 hours and they still aren't done. Will the beans be done after cooking them on high for 8 hours?

Stephanie O'Dea said...

Hi Anon, I wonder if you're in a super high elevation, or perhaps you've got a batch of older beans. 14 hours on either high or low should be plenty of time for the beans to soften. Is there any bubbling at all? is the crockpot hot to the touch?

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie,

I'm not in a super high elevation. Wow, didn't know that the age of the beans mattered. I received these beans from someone who was cleaning their pantry. So, they could be older beans.
There is bubbling and the crockpot is hot to touch. Good news the beans have cooked after 8 hours on high!

Stephanie O'Dea said...

Ah! yes---it's the old bean thing. I'm happy they cooked for you eventually. Beans can get stale and then have a hard time soaking in water. The next batch you make will have a much shorter cooking time.
enjoy!

Carol said...

Wondered if my 1982 Hamilton Beach crock pot was up to par since beans were still hard after 8 hours overnight cooking. So I switched to high and eventually they were soft. Most of the time I use my pressure cooker.Wash 2 cups beans, sort, rinse place in pressure cooker, add beans, 1 can low-salt chicken broth, 1 can tomato past + 3 cans water, 1 bell pepper, 1 onion, fresh garlic, carrots, mushrooms, celery, spinach, a potato, several cups of water, fresh parsley,celery, herbs, & pressure cook for 15 minutes or more. I read tomatoes makes the beans require longer cooking. I turn off heat after 15 minutes and let sit on residual heat. Makes delicious bean soup quick, nutritious, & economically.

Anonymous said...

Last time I tried pressure cooking beans, sometime in the 1980s, the little safety plug blew out and my entire 11x18 kitchen got splattered with beans. I even had to clean them out of the light fixtures. (I'd just stepped around a corner to check on laundry, or I would have been in the line of fire, too.) I hear the newer pressure cookers are safer, but I'm not about to try it. No way, no how.

BlackJack said...

Lonestar Jack
The best turkey soup I ever made was with the "bean broth" from the bean cooking stage.
To guage the gasiness of beans do you cook pots of beans in all the different manners, eat, and then sit around "gasing" ?

HikingStick said...

My wife and I have been preparing dried beens in a slow cooker for 15 years now. The first time was an accidental discovery (no time to boil water before heading out for the day). When we came home, we found that the beans were already cooked! We've been using the slow cooker ever since.

As a rule of thumb, we can prepare two pounds of dry beans in a 6-qt slow cooker (it takes it right to the brim once they expand).

Ollie's Kitchn said...

Thanks so much for the info! Its too hot to cook my beans on the stove and so I've been staring at them all week until I found your recipe. I just put them in the slow cooker, so fingers crossed while be having sweet potato and black bean quesadillas for dinner!

MOMentum said...

Brilliant! You've thought of everything. I love the energy consumption chart. Great blog.

mywildcrazyworld said...

Thanks for this post. I always cook mine from scratch too. Just soooooooooooo much cheaper plus, I don't have all those icky preservatives!

marycmeadows said...

I'm so doing this -- thanks!!

Lisa Marie said...

Hi Stephanie,

Thank you so much for the post! I soaked the beans last night and they are cooking now. When I woke this morning, many of the beans had split open. Is that normal? If so, do you take them out?

Thank you!

Stephanie O'Dea said...

Hi @Lisa Marie, the splitting is normal when cooked a bit longer than necessary. since you cooked them overnight, I'm not sure when exactly they were done, but it sounds like maybe they got cooked a few hours too long. This isn't a problem, they are still perfectly fine to eat and use in dishes, but next time maybe cook during the day to keep an eye on them.

Dry bean cooking times vary depending on your altitude, humidity, and the age of the beans. If you have really fresh beans they cook faster.

enjoy!!

Lisa Marie said...

Hi Stephanie,
Thank you so much for the response! The splitting actually happened after the soaking (prior to cooking), is that also normal?
Thank you!

milaxx said...

I add a bit of onion or sage leaves to my bean to give them a bit of flavor. I also find that yes my beans will cook if I don't presoak, but when I don't presoak I get more broken beans.

Healthy Eating said...

I make bean soup this way a couple of times a week. Yes I like beans. I use different kinds of beans and cook with all kinds of vegetables. Normally I don't pre-soak and they always come out fine. Veggies usually go in for the last hour or so. It is a really easy way to have a meal ready when you get home.

Steph said...

Oh, no! I set my cooker and left for work, and when I came back, my beans were a big mushy mess! Next time I'll do it when I'll be around to keep an eye on it and stop cooking them when they're done. Thanks for the recipe!

Danelle said...

So glad you give exact instructions. A lot of other recipes I've looked at don't give the details. Thanks for sharing. I'm making my first ever batch of beans in a crock pot tonight we'll see how they turn out.

hawaiibeans said...

I just picked up a crockpot this week, having only boiled dried beans on the stove in lots of water, letting it reduce over 2-3.5 hours.

The dried beans at the store here tend to be older, which is why I have to do what I do, and while my experience is only with the stove, it's likely that some of the same principles apply. I've found a couple of things necessary for the stove method: presoaking and late seasoning for some spices.

I'll soak them in plenty of water overnight or sometimes a couple of days for pintos, often rinsing once or twice. I believe it's better to soak in cool water because the sulfur gases exuded from the beans seem to dissolve more fully. I'll add onions, one jalapeno, garlic, and bay to the beans/water, letting it reduce, adding salt at the end and maybe a squeeze of lime (last 5-15 minutes). My experience is that salting the water in the beginning is counterproductive, because it draws moisture from the beans, which becomes a non-issue at the end of the cooking process. I think the acid from the lime also has some of the same effect.

In any case, I'm excited to try the crockpot method since it sounds like less monitoring, heat generated, and less of the "I better-rush-home-to-start-the-beans."

CeltChick said...

I have this post saved, 'coz I think this is so smart. I've cooked up an entire 6 Qt pot of black beans, the same with lentils, and now black-eyed peas. I found lots of recipes for both the black beans and the lentils, but I'm having problems finding dishes that will use the black-eye peas. I've done a black-eyed pea version of your Salsa Chicken soup (and it's tasty!), and would love some other non-soup ideas for the rest of these peas! www.tresdivine.blogspot.com

virginia said...

Hi, I am a new whole foodie and doing a lot more cooking! I just discovered your blog last night in my search about how to cook dried beans in the crockpot. I am also watching my budget so I am looking forward to being able to use dried beans as opposed to canned. I am very excited about the fact that I will be receiving a beautiful crockpot (7 quart!) for Christmas from my daughter (I helped her pick it out). I was very surprised to read here about the toxins in red beans, red kidney beans being one of my favorites. I have a question, do we have to be concerned about all kidney beans, meaning white kidney beans, aka cannellini beans? And how about other beans such as pinto? I thought I saw a reference on here about boiling all bean types for 10 minutes after soaking and prior to cooking. But if one is planning to use the crockpot for long, slow cooking and soaking is not necessary, then where does that leave you if you have to boil all bean types do to toxicity? I hope that doesn't sound too confusing. Thanks for your blog. Keep it up. It's wonderful!

Stephanie ODea said...

Hi Virgina,
I'm happy you found me! I think your daughter is really going to like her present! ;-)
It's only red colored beans that sometimes carry this toxin. It's not common, but I feel that the responsible thing to do is to always recommend pre-boiling red beans for 10 minutes before slow cooking.
I'd always rather err on the side of caution!

I hope this helps a bit!
steph

virginia said...

Thank you, Steph. That helps a lot! Happy Cooking!

Sara O. said...

My southern mother who is also a chemist has always sprouted her beans, not just soaked them. She says the sprouting releases the gas-causing chemicals more completely. She soaks them overnight and drains them in the morning. Then she rinses them in the evening, the next morning and the next evening (or not that second evening if they've already started sprouting). The idea is for them to stay moist but not underwater until they sprout. When they crack open and the tiny white sprouts come out, they're ready to cook. Not every single bean will sprout but most will. Significantly reduces the gas but it does mean you have to plan for ham and beans or whatever a few days in advance.

Michelle Clement said...

Here's a couple of other tips. Instead of soaking overnight, clean and put beans in a pan of water and add a couple of pinches of baking soda. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 min. Take off heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour. Pour off water and place in crockpot. Use chicken broth instead of water to cook them once you place them in the crockpot. Add's more flavor. I typically use 1 lb of beans, either pinto or great northern, 8 cups of chicken broth, carrots, onion, celery, parsley, garlic and pepper. I throw in a ham hock or diced ham as well. When done I smash about half of the beans to thicken the sauce. I serve up each bowl with about 1 tsp of dijon mustard added. YUM!

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