Because beans are hard and come in various sizes, they also have various cooking times. Basically the bigger the bean the longer it takes to cook which is somewhere between 45 minutes to 3 or 4 hours. The small lentils or split peas will cook in 45 minutes or so while the bigger garbanzo beans (chickpeas) will take longer.
Here is what you do:
- Soak the beans overnight in the refrigerator (this is not necessary for lentils or split peas). The next day, discard the soaking water and cover beans with fresh water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the beans are soft.
- The time it takes depends on several factors such as where they were grown, their age, the altitude and the hardness of the water… so we can’t say exactly how long it will take. You know that they are done when you taste one and it is firm but tender.
- It is best to cook the beans by themselves. Adding salt or tomatoes or vinegar can slow down the cooking time. Add these foods after the beans have cooked.
- You can also cook beans in a slow cooker. You don’t have to soak them but I prefer to soak the beans (to be sure they cook thoroughly). Put them in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours (small lentils or split peas would only take 3 – 4 hours). Vegetables like onions and garlic can be added. You can use pinto beans and mash them for bean burritos.
I like to soak beans and cook them in my rice cooker (Zojirushi – the Hamilton Beach doesn’t work as well) . They cook without any attention from me and if they are not done when the rice cooker finishes I simply turn the cooker on again. It’s a simple way to cook beans and legumes.
Even when I put beans in soups I like to cook them first. Using a slow cooker is another great way to cook beans. The slow cooking seems to increase the flavor.