How to Cook Beans from Dry

Avatar Gaye Levy  |  Updated: January 31, 2022
How to Cook Beans from Dry

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April 018 (280x210)While having dinner with friends last week, the conversation came around to emergency food storage and, more specifically, dried beans.  The consensus around the table was that beans were a great item to have stashed away in our emergency pantries but that cooking dried beans was a pain in the arse and not altogether something we wanted to do.

Well I needed to chew on that one (and no, I am not referring to tough cooked beans.)   I had been harping on S.H. for awhile asking him to keep an eye out for canned bean bargains during his weekly foray to the big city.  But no luck so far.

Now wait just one darn minute.   I can cook beans.  I know I can.  Just how hard can it be?

So that is what I set out to do.  I bought a one pound bag of kidney beans ($1.49) and cooked them up.  It was so easy– no mess, no hassle, and I ended up with five cups of beans for the same price as a 15 oz. can of beans yielding 1 1/2 cups of  beans.

How easy was it?  I used the “quick soak” method described below and they were perfect.

Methods for Cooking Dried Beans

Overnight Soak Method

  • Always sort through beans to remove tiny stones or debris
  • Rinse well with water before adding beans to a large bowl
  • Add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches
  • Beans will be fully hydrated within 4 hours, but can soak for up to 24 hours

Quick Soak Technique

  • Combine beans and water in a pot and heat to boiling
  • Cook for 3 minutes
  • Remove from heat, cover tightly, and set aside for an hour

Both Methods

  • Regardless of which method you use, after their soak, drain the beans and add fresh water to a cooking pot.  Bring the beans to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the beans are tender.
  • When cooking beans, use a gentle simmer. Boiling can cause the cooking liquid to overflow, as well as the beans to break apart and the skins to separate. When dried beans boil, a foam forms on the top of the cooking liquid. This foam is water-soluble protein released from the beans and it will be absorbed back into the bean cooking liquid. It is not necessary to remove the foam.
  • Beans are done when they can be easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork

Cooking Facts

  • One pound of dried beans = 2 cups of beans = 5 to 6 cups of cooked beans, depending on the type.
  • Dry beans should always be cooked in soft water or they will be tough
  • You can add a pinch of baking soda to the pot if you have hard water
  • Adding salt to beans at the beginning of cooking toughens the beans.  Don’t do it.
  • Add acidic ingredients, such as vinegar, tomatoes or juice, near the end of the cooking time, when the beans are just tender. If these ingredients are added too early, they 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.

Learning How to Cook Dried Beans from Scratch

All is now well.  I feel smug knowing that I can actually cook a pot of beans from scratch.  If I had to, I could even do this outdoors in a fire pit.  The best part is that the process was so easy that I now feel comfortable going to Costco and purchasing that 50 pound sack for $26.  That works out to 52 cents a pound. Talk about a bargain.

Added bonus:  A 50 pound sack of beans with some canned tomatoes, rice, and spices would go a long way towards helping us feed our unprepared neighbors if the SHTF.

But oh oh.  Shelf life.  Did you know that the shelf life of dried beans is typically only one year? 

Time to study up and figure out how to extend that shelf life using my Food Saver, some Mylar bags, and perhaps some food grade buckets.  Actually, I believe I have found the answer.  Stay tuned!

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48 Responses to “How to Cook Beans from Dry”

  1. I usually use dry beans. But I do stock some canned beans for those times when I need them on the spot! I suggest packing away a few cans of beans for when you need food immediately and don’t have the time or energy to cook. In times of emergency or stress, some ready-made foods can help a lot!

  2. Love your site! I’m a retired senior, wanting to prepare for when the SHTF, but unable to do very much…very limited funds. I always get your Sunday posting, and enjoy them very much! Does this mean I’m fully subscribed?

  3. Hey Gaye,

    Do you have George Ure’s Ranch Beans with sweet onions recipe?


    Chilcote MD
    Hamilton, MT

  4. Hi Gaye,

    from personal experience,I tend to lose salt and fluid easily, sweat or urine. Paradoxically, drinking too much water leads to loss of water and salts (e.g. diuretics).
    The remedy–1/4 tsp (potassium chloride) fake salt, 1/2 tsp real salt, 12 oz water. It’ll take a couple hours to re-hydrate.

    Chilcote MD
    Hamilton, MT

  5. I cook my beans after an overnight soak (and I add baking soda to the soak as well). Once they’re cooked, I drain and rinse them, then put them in the dehydrator until they’re completely dry, then store them with an oxygen packet (I usually mix them with seasonings and freeze dried veggies for a meal in a jar). Rehydrate them in boiling water for about 20 min to a half hour, they’re a quick-cook bean that is shelf-stable.

  6. re LEG CRAMPS
    my wife suffers with contortive leg cramps in the early a.m.. usually after excessive standing or walking. besides hot compress we often use 1 to 2 tablespoons of dill pickle juice. 9 times out of ten that will break the cramps. hope this helps

    • So far, none of the suggestions I have received have worked for me. I am will to try this – dill pickle juice. Who would have thought?

  7. Great info Survival Woman> Navy beans are my favorite, I get them free from a local farmer, here in MI. I have a 5 gal. pail full right now, tomorrow will be making bean soup with ham… mom’s recipe….yum yum…….

  8. Good one! (I have lotsa small stupormarket bags of dried beans here, but still learning how to use them.) That recipe for home-made refried beans has really got me interested- can refried beans be made with kidney beans?
    I had supper at my Son’s place, a couple of weeks ago. His Mexican girlfriend cooked supper- quesadillas- from scratch. She made her own Salsa and Guacamole while I watched-I was so impressed! All of the ingredients she used, were fresh- and they cost pennies!
    Still looking for the ultimate burrito, though…….

  9. Re: Leg cramps
    There is a supplement available at the health supplement section at Walmart called Calcium Magnesium Zinc, which will knock out leg cramps immediately. I keep a bottle by my bed and only take whenever I have a cramp. Try it, you will be amazed. I am new here and really appreciate all the information.
    Best regards,

    Pa Hawk

    • Oh my gosh – if this works for me I will forever be in your debt. I will pick some up next time I am off island.

      And welcome to the world of Backdoor Survival!

      — Gaye

  10. I started canning pinto beans last year. We live in a remote area, the nearest store is more than an hour’s drive. We have always eaten a lot of refried beans, tacos, nachos, burritos, etc. Now, even though the price for a jar of canned beans is about the same as store bought beans, there is only the beans, a pinch of salt and water in the jar. So easy and economical.

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