No Hassle: Slow Cooking Dried Beans

Posted by on March 8, 2011 | 33 Comments

Going through our cupboards, I discovered several foods that have traveled with us through two entire moves … and I’m not about to let them make a big trek with us again! I’m cleaning out, and this means even those dried beans that have been with us so long that they could probably be considered common law family, have got to go.

I confess, I’m one of those people who will pop Trader Joe’s canned garbanzo beans (those things are just so good for some reason) in my cart knowing full well that a one-pound bag of dried ones is sitting at home. But I hate the planning and the hassle of dried beans. Soak, boil, etc.

Fortunately, there is an easy way … it still requires a little bit of planning, but only on cooking the first time … trust me, there will be loads left for convenience. Tony and I had been mentioned trying to cook the dried beans in our crockpot for some time, but the cleaning out mentality finally lit a fire under my butt. I am sure this isn’t a new concept – likely a search for crockpot beans on the internet will yield thousands of results – but it was something new to our house, and boy was it easy.

Here is my method that required less than ten minutes of hands on time and virtually no worries:

1) One night when you remember, place dried beans in a big bowl and cover with as much cold water as the bowl will hold. The beans do soak up a  lot, so I try to have at least double the amount of water as beans, if not triple. Place the bowl in your refrigerator, and leave the beans to soak overnight.

2) In the morning, drain the beans. See my note below, you may want to boil the beans for ten minutes at this point. From what I read, chickpeas are okay, but some other beans may be an issue. Now, place them in your slow cooker. Cover them with water adding about an extra 3 inches or more of water above the beans (they soaked up a lot overnight and will soak up more, but not quite as much). Turn it on low, and go about your day. They can cook for anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. I took the garbanzos out after 6, but they could have gone a couple hours longer. I did the pintos and blacks for a full 12 hours, and no problems – they cooked nicely but weren’t mushy. Drain the beans again, and let them cool.

3) Odds are, you have a boatload of cooked beans now. Pack any beans you won’t be using in the next few days into ziploc bags, push the air out, zip, and lay them flat in the freezer to freeze. Now, whenever you need beans, simply pop them out of the freezer! You can even boil them a bit to heat up and further soften, pop them in recipes as is, or even top a salad that you will be taking on the road (the beans will defrost but keep your salad cold!).

To note, you can cook various types of beans together. I cooked the pinto beans and black beans altogether, the only consequence was that the black beans “stained” the pintos so that they came out a darker color than normal pintos. I’m okay with that.

Note: Some beans must be boiled for at least ten minutes to kill toxins. We were actually boiling the beans after freezing, so no problems here. But you may want to boil them for ten minutes before placing in the slow cooker as noted on Wikipedia.

 

Filed Under: Alisa's Recipes

Comments (33)

 

  1. AWesome, love this idea!

    How much water do you put in the slower cooker though?

  2. Claire says:

    Have you heard about the potential toxins if you do kidney beans in a crock pot? I’ve always wondered if it was a hoax. Maybe you could look into it?

    • alisa says:

      Wow, good reason not to eat beans! Thanks, I didn’t know about this. Yes, looks like keep those kidney beans and broad beans away from the slow cooker or boil them ten minutes after. Actually, since we freeze them, we were boiling them to reheat anyway. I’ll note this, thanks!

  3. Brilliant..? I think so. You offer such simple ideas to make life in the kitchen easier, yet they are so profound. lol Seriously!

    I usually leave my bean soaking/cooking for weekends since I have to soak, boil, clean up the spill-over from boiling, cool, pack in the fridge, etc.

    This method will be WAAAAAAAAAY better. Plus, I never thought about freezing the beans after they’re cooked. That will seriously make life so much easier.

    I love you. 🙂

  4. I don’t even buy kidney beans anymore because of the toxins and they really aren’t my favorite. I hardly ever do crockpot beans anymore although Tony prefers them. I do the pressure cooker because I am not great at planning. Definitely clean out that pantry! Don’t move those beans again. I can’t believe you are about to move again!

  5. Stefanie says:

    I love cooking my beans in the slow cooker. I soak them the day before I need them and then cook them during the day while I am at school (about 8 hours). They are perfectly cooked for dinner.

  6. great method, thanks so much for sharing this!

  7. LOL! I was at TJs today and picked up 4 cans of black beans while thinking that I should just look up how to slow cook the dried ones I already have at home. And, they will NOT be moved again. BTW, gotta talk this weekend about another wrench being thrown in our plans. UGH!

    xo – Tia

    • alisa says:

      I’m here to be your personal cooking psychic.

      Oh know! I’m hoping it is a nice, clean friendly wrench, not one of those dirty nasty ones. Don’t want to mess up those plans too much. See you in two days!

  8. Hannah says:

    Sadly I don’t have a slow cooker, but that’s not really the issue for me, as my problem is I don’t often plan meals enough it advance to put the beans on to soak! Having just cooked dried chickpeas from scratch for the first time, though, I am keen to dried-bean-it-up more in future 🙂

    • alisa says:

      Well, even without a slow cooker, I definitely recommend making a big batch and freezing them … no planning ahead required then. You have your own “canned” beans ready to go in the freezer!

  9. Katie says:

    So, not to brag or anything, but I’ve been doing this for years now. 🙂

    I do it whenever my freezer supply starts to get low. But I usually just have 3-4 pots boiling on the stove, and then freeze in ziplocks. They work great for bulking up boxed soups too. I really like white beans added to butternut soup.

  10. Yikes, place the bowl in the refrigerator!? I’ve never done that. I just leave it out on the counter over night. Hmm? I haven’t gotten anyone sick yet, but it never dawned on me to put it in the fridge. I wonder if my house is cold enough. =)

    I also haven’t done the slow cooker method. I use dried beans a lot, but the thought of popping them in the slow cooker and leaving the house is a nice one. Thanks!

    Melissa

  11. Isn’t it amazing what we’ll move and move more than once? 😉 Good for you on getting in the bean mode and sharing what you learned with all of us! I’ve soaked beans (but on the stove … hmm) and cooked them in the crockpot. Do it with black-eyed peas all the time. Thanks!

    Soon,
    Shirley

  12. Marta says:

    I usually rinse off my beans and put strait in the slow cooker with 2-3 times the amount of water. I cook 12+ hours, I like a rich sauce and my beans falling apart. Its my favorite way to do them. I hate to mess with pre-soaking them.

    • alisa says:

      I don’t blame you Marta! I thought about doing this, but I recalled reading something about the soaking process being required to help with the digestion of the beans … but may have to experiment by going straight for the crockpot!

      • Marta says:

        Yes, I’ve heard that too. I experimented for a while with soaking them overnight, and even soaking them for 3 days and changing the water each time. I did not notice any difference personally, and it was such a hassle, plus the beans looked really anemic – black beans were a light purple. So after 4-5 tries, I went back to just cooking them in the crock pot only. All beans I do benefit from 12 hours, except for Navy and Great Northern White beans, they need about 6-8 or they completely fall apart. Good thickener for a soup, but that’s about it. Its certainly worth soaking if it makes a difference for digestion, I just didn’t notice it helping.

  13. True story: Last night my bf turns on an episode of Alton Brown via DVR. It’s on chickpeas. He knows I borderline obsess over chickpeas so we watch it. AB starts showing how you can cook them in a crock pot overnight.

    I stop, turn to my bf and get all excited and start telling him you posted on this just yesterday! He looks at me like i’m an idiot.

    Anyway, that was my super lame story of how food excites me and I have a feeling you found some inspiration from Alton Brown… yes? No? Whatever, I’m super excited to try this one out. 🙂

    • alisa says:

      You are too cute! Nope, sounds like Alton got inspiration from me 🙂 Truth be told, this post is a couple of weeks late … I made those beans in the crockpot last month.

      We don’t have TV, so I’ve never really watched the food network (wouldn’t know Alton from Rachel Ray) and though I know the idea isn’t original, this really was one of those “I thought of it!” moments!

      You should try it though … so, so easy! And, it sounds like I need to come to your house to geek out about food … that’s my kind of entertainment.

  14. I like this slow cooker method, Alisa!! What a great idea. I usually just make mine on the stove. I will totally do this next time since I love to forget about whatever I am working on! 😉
    xo
    k

  15. amen to this!

    “my method that required less than ten minutes of hands on time and virtually no worries”

    And thanks for the method!

  16. I am also in the I ahve been doing this for years camp!

    Also add a teaspoon of bicarb to the bean soaking water. Makes them cook even quicker.

  17. fartygirl says:

    Thank you! I also struggle with the bean issue… always buying them in cans, etc. Now I need to get a rice cooker! 🙂

  18. Hannah says:

    I’m also guilty of this… I just got frustrated, because it never seemed like the beans I cooked were ever quite as creamy/tender as those in a can. Maybe I should give them another shot… I’m very tempted to invest in a pressure cooker though, as if I need any more kitchen equipment. Oy!

    • alisa says:

      Well, if you do eat a lot of beans, I have heard great things about pressure cookers. And considering you practically live in the kitchen, can you ever have too many toys?

    • Alex says:

      Yes! I bought a pressure cooker a few years ago and besides my food processor, it is the most used gadget in my kitchen. It’s so worth it 🙂

  19. Diana says:

    I am so excited that you wrote this article, seriously! I’ve been wanting to cook my northern white and black beans for the last two weeks but they’ve been camping out on my kitchen counter instead because of wanting to avoid the hassle. Now I have you to thank for, by creating a much needed, simpler plan. I really like the idea of batch cooking too so then I can have them more often. 🙂 I haven’t heard of the idea of adding bicarb to the soaking water, I’ll have to try that too. Thank you for all the great info!!!!

  20. mtbVegan says:

    I use my slow cooker to cook all my dried beans too. Such a great tool!

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