If you've been following along this past month, you know that we love beans. We also love our slow-cooker. Lucky for us, it just so happens that beans and slow-cookers make excellent friends! Here's how it works...
As Faith has described, beans cook best over a low, steady heat. This lets them absorb liquid evenly and prevents the skins from splitting. Low, steady heat? Sounds like a job for the slow-cooker!
We also like cooking beans in the slow cooker because it lets us cook several pounds of dry beans at once. We set aside what we need right away and freeze the rest for later.
1 16-oz bag of dried beans (or more, if desired)
2 teaspoons salt (per 16-oz bag)
If desired, soak beans overnight in plenty of cool water. Opinions vary, but we have found this decreases some of our digestion issues.
In the morning, drain and rinse the beans. Discard any beans that floated to the top of the water or look otherwise unsavory.
Pour the beans to your slow cooker. If using more than one bag, be sure that you leave a few inches of clearance at the top of your slow cooker. Add a teaspoon of salt and enough fresh water so the beans are covered by an inch or two. Cover and set the slow cooker for 8 hours.
At the 4 hour mark, add another teaspoon of salt, stir the beans, and eat a few to see how far the beans have cooked. Continue checking every half hour or so, and stop cooking when the beans have reached your desired doneness. We don't usually cook the beans for the full 8 hours unless we're doing a mashed bean recipe, but we like the temperature range on the 8-hour setting for keeping the beans at a low simmer.
After cooking several batches, we have a good idea of when the beans will be done and no longer check doneness every half hour unless we're cooking a new kind of bean. In our slow cooker, we've found that 5 hours is ideal for al dente beans destined for soups (where they will continue cooking a bit), 6 hours is good for ready-to-eat beans, and 7 hours gives us very soft beans.
Any other tips for cooking beans in the slow cooker?
(Image: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn; Crock-Pot)