The Zero-Waste Chef

How to Cook Black Beans

Click here to go straight to the recipe.

Update 07/16: I now have a pressure cooker and cook my beans in that. IT IS SO FAST! Read more here.

I don’t eat canned beans (or canned anything for that matter), for several reasons:

Now that I’ve convinced you to never buy a can of beans again, read on to find out how you can easily cook beans in a slow cooker. (You can also cook them in a pot on the stove.) I’ve chosen black beans for this post.

That’s water, not moonshine

Ingredients

My slow cooker is small (about 4 quarts if that), so I used 1 1/2 cups of beans.

Directions

1. The night before you cook your beans, rinse them in a colander under cool running water.

2. Place rinsed beans in the slow cooker crock. Pour water over beans to cover by about two inches. Do not turn on the slow cooker!

3. Let crock sit about eight hours or overnight.

4. The pics above show my beans in the morning. The water in the left image a purplish-black. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse them under cool water. They will have plumped up a bit, as in the image on the right above.

5. Return the black beans to the slow cooker. Add enough water to cover the beans by about two inches. Cook on low for six to eight hours, or until the beans pass the “5-bean test” (if you eat five beans and all five are tender, then the whole pot is cooked). If one bean fails the test, continue to cook the beans and check them every quarter or half hour. At the end of cooking, the slow cooker will still contain a lot of liquid (as in the image at the top of the post).

If you don’t have a slow cooker, place your beans in a pot on the stove and cover with water. Bring everything to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for an hour (at least). Make sure you top off the water as it boils off to avoid burning the beans (and damaging your pot).

Beans will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. You can drain them or store them in their liquid. Some recipes, like my spicy black beans, call for the liquid as well as the beans.

Beans will keep in the freezer for about six months. To freeze them along with their liquid, leave at least an inch of space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion. Otherwise your jars may explode. Also—and I speak from experience—store in wide mouth jars in the freezer. I’ve had jars with more narrow necks explode too. You can also simply freeze beans drained.

This slow-cooker method works for all types of beans. Follow the same procedure, but adjust the cooking times. I find black beans cook quite slowly. On the stove, I have to check them constantly, so I prefer cooking them in a slow cooker. Either way, you’ll reap all sorts of benefits cooking them yourself. 🙂

Black Beans

Ingredients

Directions

1. The night before you cook your beans, rinse them in a colander under cool running water.

2. Place rinsed beans in the slow cooker crock. Pour water over beans to cover by about two inches. Do not turn on the slow cooker!

3. Let crock sit about eight hours or overnight.

4. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse them under cool water.

5. Return the black beans to the slow cooker. Add enough water to cover the beans by about two inches. Cook on low for six to eight hours, or until the beans pass the “5-bean test” (if you eat five beans and all five are tender, then the whole pot is cooked). If one bean fails the test, continue to cook the beans and check them every quarter or half hour. At the end of cooking, the slow cooker will still contain a lot of liquid.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, follow first four steps, then place your beans in a pot on top of the stove and cover with water. Bring everything to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for an hour (at least). Make sure you top off the water as it boils off to avoid burning the beans (and damaging your pot).