How to cook Navy Beans 101

How to cook Navy Beans 101

I’m going to attempt in this article to make cooking beans as easy as possible.  And it is easy.

There are as many bean soup recipes as there are the people that cook them. So don’t be overwhelmed. If you learn the basics of cooking navy beans your on your way to mastering various recipes. But remember, the best recipes are the simplest. Simple beans with a little olive oil or butter, salt, pepper and crushed garlic makes a very appetizing meal. Too many seasonings as The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us in How To Eat To Live, robs the beans of its’ vital nutrients.

The basic principles of cooking beans remains the same no matter which method you use. Dry beans require a liquid to be cooked in. That liquid is water. Beans can be cooked by boiling them in a pot on top of the stove, in a pressure cooker, slow cooker or baked in your oven. Today we will cover the basic method of cooking dry beans by boiling them in a pot, on the stove.

Water is needed to soften the beans as they cook. There must be enough liquid to keep the beans covered so they will cook uniformly. Any beans not covered during cooking will dry out and be inedible.

The salt and acids in ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar, or tomatoes lengthens the cooking time of beans and can impair the softening process, so add them near the end of cooking when the beans are almost tender.

Adding salt while cooking beans can toughen beans. I add my salt AFTER the beans have been cooked.

Seasonings such as garlic, onion, and herbs can be added during cooking. We’ll get into recipes later. But for now, we just want to learn the basics of cooking them.

Oil or other fat is used in the cooking of many foods to lessen the possibility of the cooking water boiling over. Butter or Olive oil is usually added to beans to help prevent boil-overs. The oil or fat used in the cooking also adds flavor to the beans. My personal preference is Olive Oil or Butter.

Basic Cooking 

2 cups of navy beans

6 cups of water

Pick over beans and remove any stones or dark discolored beans.

Soak the navy beans over night in a large bowl. Cover beans with about 2-3 inches of water. The beans will swell so you want to make sure they stay covered with water.  Soaking the beans helps to breakdown enzymes and lessen’s “gas”.

Place the drained beans into a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with 6 cups fresh water for each pound (2 cups) of beans, or to about  at least 2-3 inches above the beans. Add 1 to 2 Tablespoons oil (to prevent boiling over).

Boil gently with lid tilted until tender when taste tasted.

And that’s basically it.

A few notes and tips:

Cooking beans can take from 1-2 hours. It all depends on how fresh the beans are. The longer they’ve been sitting on the shelf since they were picked, the longer it takes to cook them and the tougher they are. Really fresh beans do not require a lot of time to cook. They cook quick and are very tender. So keep an eye on very fresh beans you don’t want them to turn into mush. I once cooked beans on high heat, so rough (hard boiling) they disappeared!

Add hot water as needed to keep beans just covered with liquid. The best rule is to test frequently during cooking, then come to your own decision when beans are tender (most recipes will tell you to cook beans until tender. To check for tenderness, pinch or bite a few beans at a minimum suggested time, then every 10 to 15 minutes until the beans are tender).

Always simmer beans gently. Hard prolonged boiling will cause the skins to split and beans to act crazy. Don’t have them jumping violently out of the pot. Be nice to your beans. Pray over them. Give them tender loving care and they will give the tender loving care you and your stomach both need.

Cooking beans on top of the stove is a slow process that allows the flavors of the beans and seasoning to intermingle, creating the hearty flavor you expect from bean dishes.

When dried beans boil, a foam forms on the top of the cooking liquid. This foam is water-soluble protein released from the beans and it will be absorbed back into the bean cooking liquid. It is not necessary to remove the foam. To keep the foam down when cooking beans, add 1 Tablespoon of butter, or olive oil salad oil, for each cup of beans.

The best cookware for beans is a stainless steel pot. Never use aluminum pots and pans. You can also use cast iron. I personally like using cast iron pots (dutch ovens) for making baked beans. Both are excellent. Pressure Cookers should be stainless steel.

by: Lisa Muhammad Atlanta MOA