If you’re looking for a simple ingredient that’s easy to prepare and always ensures delicious results, you can’t go wrong with black beans.
This nutritious and unassuming food couldn’t be easier to prepare, and it can be used as anything from a main dish to a simple complement – and everything in between.
Not convinced about cooking beans from scratch? Here are three key reasons to pick dried black beans over their canned counterparts.
- SALT – canned beans is often loaded with extra sodium. Cooking your own helps you add salt according to your own personal preferences, which are likely to be far healthier.
- PRICE – buying dried stock in bulk is almost always cheaper than buying canned versions, and it’s no different with black beans. Stock up and save a hefty amount of cash.
- BISPHENOL A (aka BPA) – This chemical is often found in food containers and has been linked with cancer, heart disease, and fertility issues. Let’s try to avoid it.
Read through our guide to learn all you need to know how to cook black beans, including cooking techniques and even some unusual but worthwhile tips.
Be warned, though: Cooking black beans is an extremely simple and mostly hands-free process, but it’s not something you can do fast. It’s wise to get the beans on simmering water at least two hours before you need to serve them.
Do you need to soak black beans?
One of the main reasons that seem to turn people off cooking black beans is the need to plan ahead and soak the beans in water for a good 12 hours prior to actually cooking them.
According to conventional wisdom, this is an absolute requirement and failing to do so will lead to endless hours of waiting for the beans to fully cook.
But I have good news! If this technicality has been keeping you faithful to canned black beans rather than cooking your own, then fear no more.
After carefully experimenting with cooking beans soaked as well as unsoaked, we have noticed that unsoaked black beans don’t actually take that much longer to fully cook to perfect softness. In fact, you’re looking at an additional 10-25% time of simmering at most, which means that pre-soaking beans is arguably not as crucial a lot of people might think.
Do not take our word for it though – try it yourself and you’ll quickly realize that soaking beans can be regarded as a superfluous step in the modern kitchen setting.
And that’s not all. In case you’re worried the flavor of the beans won’t be as nice unless you soak them, you’ll be surprised to notice that unsoaked beans actually have a better taste and texture compared to a pre-soaked batch of the exact same beans. This holds true provided of course that you always keep the beans fully immersed in simmering water and pay close attention to the cooking timings, neither turning off the stove too soon nor too late.
How long does it take to cook black beans?
If you’ve never cooked black beans before, you may be looking for a specific number in terms of cooking minutes that you can rely on to always get perfect results. Truth of the matter is that such an estimative cannot be easily offered, since the exact cooking time varies wildly depending on the black beans you use. Even when cooking batches from the exact same black beans you may find it will take more or less time depending on a number of factors, such as the power of your stove, the age of the beans, time of soaking, and so forth.
With experience, you’ll quickly develop a knack for telling how long until your black beans are properly cooked, just by glancing at them while they’re immersed in simmering water. In the meanwhile, you recommend that you let your black beans boil for just five minutes, and then let them simmer for a full hour. From there, you need to taste them every 5-10 until your black beans have the perfect consistency.
Do not let your black beans overcook to the point where they start peeling and turning mushy, but do make sure to cook through until there is no crunchiness left when you bite into a single bean. The right spot for perfectly cooked black beans is the point where they’re evenly soft inside while looking whole on the outside.
While cooking black beans is a straightforward matter (just boil them until tender), there are of course a few details that you can be mindful of to achieve the best results:
Make sure to cook your beans slowly in simmering water. Sure, it takes a lot longer than just boiling them, but you’ll end up with a much richer flavor and that beautiful, soft texture that we’re after.
There is no point in cooking your black beans on sautéed onion and garlic. While this may sound like a good idea, in theory, you’ll only lose time and energy and end with slightly inferior results. Simply simmer a few garlic cloves and a medium-sized onion along with the beans as you cook them; this will actually produce better tasting beans with the right amount of aroma.
This might sound a bit odd but bear with me… adding a whole orange (yes, orange!) to a pot of beans while they cook will introduce a subtle nuance of flavor that will raise cooked beans to a higher level. Make sure to remove the orange when your turn off the stove.
Now you’re familiar with the basics of cooking black beans from scratch, here’s an easy-but-delicious recipe to try out to get the most out of your favorite new bean.