Basic Cooked (Dried) Beans, Peas

Dry Bean Diversity

Dry Bean Diversity

By Cat, Dec 2009  (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

These instructions apply to dried peas (such as chickpeas and black-eyed peas), and dried beans (such as red, black, white, pinto, and other speckled/mottled beans). The method for lentils is similar, but they require less cooking time.

To Soak or Not to Soak/Sprout

Some bean recipes do not include an overnight soak; instead, they bring the beans to a boil, and continue to boil for several minutes, then turn off the heat for a 2-hour soak. This method certainly saves time, and helps to make the beans tender. But it destroys the enzymes in the beans and thus keep germination from happening. (The germination process makes the nutrients in the bean more bio-available, and also creates additional nutrients). It is better to soak overnight before boiling and cooking.

An 8 – 12 hour overnight soak with a bit of lemon juice (while you are sleeping) allows the germination process to begin and thus improves the nutrient content and the bio-availability of the nutrients, before any heat is applied.  I highly recommend an overnight soak.

Sprouting the beans over 2 – 3 days, just until the tiny tail of the sprout appears has even more benefits for health. For one thing, it turns the bean/pea into a vegetable as opposed to a seed, with all the changes in nutrient content that includes. Once that tail appears, the beans can then be cooked, with the assurance you are getting the most nutritional bang for your buck.

Special instructions for different types of beans

  • Kidney beans: According to the Vegetarian Society (2) and Nourishing Traditions (1), it is very important to boil soaked/sprouted kidney beans (red or white) for 10 minutes, before simmering them. However, so many new varieties are being developed, some of which come from kidney beans, that I recommend doing this for all beans.
  • Fava beans: Both fresh and dried favas need to have the waxy shell removed before cooking; however, if you wish to sprout them, that waxy shell includes the germ, so should not be removed until after sprouting.
  • Soy Beans: I do not advocate eating of soy beans, except as fermented soya products such as miso, tempeh, and soya sauce.  However, if you choose to cook soy beans, consult the Vegetarian Society website for instructions on destroying the trypsin inhibitor (a toxin) in soy.

Basic Cooked Beans, Peas

NOTE About Quantities:

  • ½ pound dried beans (about 1 cup) yields 3 cups cooked.
  • Alternately, 1 cup cooked requires 2.6 oz (about ⅓ cup) dried beans.

These instructions are based on those in Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD. (1)

Important: don’t add salt until about 30 minutes before they are done. Otherwise, the beans will remain dry and tough no matter how long they are cooked.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Soak/Sprout – strongly recommended; see also Beans & Other Legumes: Soaking & Sprouting
  • 1 cup dried red or white kidney beans
  • warm filtered water
  • lemon juice (1 Tbsp/quart of water)
  • Cook
  • fresh filtered water
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Equipment
  • large bowl (for soaking)
  • quart jar(s) (for sprouting)
  • mesh lid for jar(s), or cheesecloth
  • stock pot (for cooking)


  1. Soak or sprout – strongly recommended
  2. Cover beans in bowl with warm water.  Stir in whey or lemon juice and leave in a warm place overnight (8 – 12 hours).  Check after a few hours and add more water as necessary.
  3. At this point, you can cook them. Or drain and rinse them twice daily for 2 – 3 days until they begin to sprout.
  4. See Beans & Other Legumes: Soaking & Sprouting for more detail.
  5. Cook
  6. Drain beans, rinse and put in saucier (or French oven).  Cover with water, bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes (very important, to ensure soft beans, and to destroy a toxin in kidney beans), then reduce heat to a low simmer.
  7. Simmer for about 1 – 3 hours (or 30 – 60 minutes if sprouted), until tender, adding more water as necessary.
  8. During the last half hour, season with salt and pepper.
  9. Let cool, then drain; or use with cooking liquid.

Can or Freeze the cooked beans or chickpeas

  • If you make up a big batch, you can freeze the cooked legumes in glass jars or plastic freezer bags for future use.
  • Or you can can them using a pressure canner. Because they are a high-protein food, a hot water bath canner is not enough to kill the bad guys like botulism. Follow the instructions that came with your canner. See also from The EssentiaList (for which I am the editor (3)): Pressure Canning and Canning Tables (pdf files)


  1. Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD.
  2. Emily Skinner Bean Recipes (
  3. The Vegan Gourmet on dried beans & peas (great reference!) (
  4. The EssentiaList (



About Cat

See my 'About' page
This entry was posted in Legumes, Simmered, Soaked, Sprouted and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.