Here are several steps to take when cooking dried beans, or legumes, at home. Most of these steps help to increase the digestibility of beans and the kombu also adds beneficial minerals.
1. Rinse and soak any bean larger than aduki beans for at least eight hours. If cooking lentils or any bean smaller than aduki beans, just rinse and go to step two.
2. Drain the soaking water and add fresh water before cooking. I add enough water to cover the beans by just under one inch if pressure cooking. I add a little more than that if boiling them straight in the pot and then I watch them and add more water if necessary while they cook.
3. Bring the beans to a boil on medium heat. Strain any foam that rises to the surface.
4. Add a postage stamp size piece of kombu for each cup of dry beans.
5a. If pressure cooking, bring to pressure and lower heat to maintain pressure for 40 to 50 minutes. I might do black beans for 40, but garbanzo beans, which take longer to get soft, at 50. Black soybeans I might even do a little longer.
5b. If boiling on the stove top, lower heat to simmer gently, cover and let cook until beans are soft. Check at regular intervals and add more water if necessary.
6. After the beans are soft, add some kind of salt, like sea salt or shoyu, to further break down the beans and aid digestion. Let the beans simmer for 15 more minutes after adding seasonings. This is also the time to add other vegetables and flavorings.
I once had an instructor tell me that beans are more likely to break apart while cooking when there is too much liquid and when they are boiled too vigorously.
Make sure you are cooking your beans long enough. Most beans are fairly soft when completely cooked.
A lot of pressure cookers will recommend cooking beans for a lot less time than I am recommending. I, personally, think beans need to cook for longer, even in a pressure cooker. They can be really hard to digest if not cooked properly.
Bay leaves can be used in place of kombu to aid with digestibility, but it won’t add minerals the way kombu can.
Hurray for home-cooked beans!
They taste so good, don’t they? When I have time, I just leave them on the stove on low and let them cook all day. Yum.