Black beans are delicious, nutritious, and ridiculously easy to cook. This smallish and elegantly dark type of beans is a traditional staple ingredient in the Latin Cuisine. It has a rich well-defined taste that people generally find palatable, and that’s how it became an international dish as well.
Black beans go nicely with rice, burritos, and flat-bread sandwiches. Black beans also complement corn and legume salads, salsas, soups, in addition to the vegan favourite black bean burgers.
It’s easy to add multiple layers of taste to black beans by using vegetables, herbs, spices, and oils. However, there are a few tricks that take the taste of black beans to the next level! And we’re here to share them with you.
In this detailed guide to cooking black beans, we’ll get into full detail about the different ways to make your favourite dishes. If you want to know how to cook black beans like a pro, read-on!
How to Cook Canned Black Beans
Canned beans are easy, right?
You just pick a couple from the supermarket shelf, and half an hour later, you have a delicious hearty meal on your table. Unfortunately, some people don’t get that stellar result, and they end up with a dark tasteless mushy mass on a plate. We don’t want that.
Here’s how to cook black beans from a can, and get great results every time.
Step 1: Drain the Liquid in the Can
Black beans are often left in a canning-liquid that sometimes contains sodium and other preservatives. The beans also leave a bit of a sour taste in that soaking liquid. It’s generally better to discard it and rinse the beans well.
It’s worth mentioning that some folks actually like the soaking liquid, and prefer to cook with it. Others, just keep a little bit of it as an extra layer of flavour. Also, there’s the spicy type of canned black beans. In this case, you can keep the marinating liquid and add it for a well-rounded taste.
This is an option, but personally, I’d much rather clean up the beans, and add different flavours while cooking. Don’t throw the can tough, it’ll come in handy in a minute.
Step 2: Line Up the Aromatics
Black beans have a nice taste, but it’s like those extra nice people you meet sometimes. They aren’t that memorable. A bit of colour, flavour, heat, and texture can jazz up the black beans and make your palate sing.
Here are some basic ingredients:
- A small onion
- A couple of garlic cloves (or garlic powder)
- Cilantro or parsley
- A plum tomato or two
- A small carrot
- A twig of thyme or oregano
- Olive oil
This recipe is as old as time, so you get the comfort of familiarity with dishes prepared in this traditional manner. And the best part is that these ingredients are readily available in most households.
You can memorise this little list, and use it for any bean recipe just as well.
Step 3: Stove Top, Microwave oven, Tagine, Your Choice!
Canned black beans are pre-cooked, and they soak for a while in their preserving liquid. However, they aren’t fully cooked, and most often they come bland with no extra flavours. That’s why you need to continue cooking them for a bit, and add up your aromatics in the process.
You could resume the traditional recipe by picking a pan and cooking the beans on a stove. However, you can use the tech in the house and utilise your microwave. Alternatively, you could go for a smokey dish and bake the beans in a clay tagine.
I often use the stove, as it gives me more control over the aromatics. The order of what goes into the pan when is a culinary art.
Step 4: Mixing It Up
Here’s how to add the glam to canned black beans.
- Get a high-rimmed wide pan.
- Eyeball a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.
- Toss in a diced small onion.
- Follow that by finely chopped tomatoes. Let them simmer a little.
- Add some cumin, cilantro, and the twig of oregano.
- Hold the salt! Keep that to when you’re almost done.
- When the base looks tender and smells heavenly, add in the black beans.
- Fill up the can with water and add it to the mix (this is how the can comes in handy).
- Leave the beans to simmer for a bit.
- Keep stirring the mix, and with a fork mash a few beans, for a wholesome texture.
- Add the salt.
- In about 20-30 minutes they should be done.
How to Cook Dried Black Beans
Why would you want to cook dried black beans if they’re available in cans? The answer is simple: they have much more taste and cost much less money. A pound of dried black beans yields about 5 cups of cooked beans, and sets you back a fraction of the cans.
So why doesn’t everyone resort to cooking dried black beans? It’s the same reason why we occasionally buy fast food instead of preparing a healthy dinner. Mostly, because we don’t know how to cook!
Well, this simple recipe is about to change that. And here’s how to cook dry black beans.
Step 1: Soak the Beans
It’s best to soak the beans for about 8 hours before cooking them. That’s because soaking the beans makes their texture mellow and creamy. But that’s not all. Soaking decreases the cooking time significantly, and keeps the beans from cracking.
Many people also believe that they’re easier to digest this way. Opinions are a bit polarised about the taste of soaked beans: some believe it makes it better, while others love the raw flavour of unsoaked beans.
I prefer to soak them, and wouldn’t skip that step unless I have friends at the door and nothing else to cook.
Step 2: Consider These Pro Tips on the Matter of Soaking Beans
Here are a few mistakes that most of us committed as cooking rookies, and the best ways to avoid them.
- Sift through the beans before soaking, remove any tiny rocks, straw, or debris. And discard any ugly-looking beans.
- Add plenty of water above the dry beans. They really soak up that liquid!
- If you’re in a hurry, add boiling water to the beans. That should cut down the soaking time by half.
- Cover the pot where the beans are soaking. You wouldn’t want to see a critter floating on the water after 8 hours of soaking.
- If the weather is too hot, the beans might start fermenting not just soaking. Put them in the fridge to keep that from happening.
- If you got busy doing other things, and wouldn’t cook the beans after a few hours of soaking, also pop them in the fridge.
Step 3: Cook the Beans
Having done all that careful soaking, you should expect stellar results while cooking the beans.
Add the beans to a large cooking pot. Preferably, one that’s higher than it is wide, and has a thick bottom. This is to ensure that it retains as much heat as possible, and that the beans wouldn’t stick to the bottom.
Cover the beans with a sufficient amount of water. Minimum 4 inches above the beans. You can add more if you prefer a softer texture. Also, you can replenish by the end to control how tender you like the beans. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover it, and leave it to simmer.
You might be wondering now, how long to cook black beans and finally eating this goodness? Keep reading!
How Long Does It Take To Cook Black Beans?
Cooking Black Beans In A Pot
Soaked black beans take around 31/2-41/2 hours on a stovetop. This slow simmering is a progressive build-up of flavours and consistent tendering of the beans. You wouldn’t want to get too chewy or too soft though, so it’s best to check on the beans after the 3-hour mark.
In the meantime, hold the salt and any other acidic additives. It’s also important to keep the beans moving, so get that long wooden spoon, and give the beans a good stir every 20 minutes. This is to keep the beans from sticking to the bottom of the pot, and for even cooking as well.
Are you thinking that 8 hours of soaking, 4 hours of cooking, and then an extra 20 minutes of adding aromatics is a lot of time? Frankly, you’re right, it is a bit lengthy. That’s why, in the next section, we’ll unpack how to cook black beans fast.
How to Cook Black Beans in a Pressure Cooker
The pressure cooker is a bit intimidating to some people. But it shouldn’t be, it’s actually quite docile. Despite the powerful steaming and angry noises it makes. However, this thing is swift. Let’s just say that you can get savoury black beans on the table in under an hour.
Here’s how to cook black beans in an instant pot.
- Measure a suitable amount of raw black beans.
- Sift through them, and make sure there’s no debris in the beans.
- Wash the beans thoroughly.
- Full up the instant pot with the beans well below the MAX mark.
- Add half a cup of water.
- Add a tablespoon of olive oil.
- As an optional step, you can mix up any aromatics you like.
- Close the lid firmly.
- Make sure the steam valve is sealed.
- Choose a manual selection of 25-30 min, or select the beans/chilli automatic setting.
- Let the cooker do its thing.
- When the time is up, let the steam release naturally for 30 minutes.
- Move the steam pointer, carefully, to the full venting position.
- You can open the pot after that, again carefully, and bon appetit!
How Long Do Black Beans Take to Cook in a Pressure Cooker?
Using the instant pot takes roughly one-tenth of the time taken when you use the stove. Around 25-30 minutes of cooking should be more than sufficient, depending on the type and freshness of the beans.
The steam venting time is around 30 minutes more, so all-in-all about an hour. If you’ve already added the flavourings in the instant pot, then you can enjoy your meal right away.
How to Cook Black Beans in a Crock Pot
A Crock pot, or slow cooker, is seriously slow. It can literally take all day to make a meal. However, it’s normally left unattended. So you can put in the ingredients in the morning and get your food hot and ready by dinner time.
Here’s how to cook black beans in Crock pot, and get marvellous results!
- Soak a pound of sifted black beans overnight.
- Rinse the beans in a colander, then put them inside the Crockpot.
- Add 31/2 cups of cold water.
- Mix in all the flavourings you like.
- You can adjust the settings to low heat or high heat, I prefer the low-heat setting.
- Leave the pot covered throughout the whole time.
- When the cooker is done, you can add the salt or a squeeze of lemon.
- Enjoy your meal!
How to Cook Black Beans Without Soaking
Soaking black beans is a plus when you want evenly-cooked beans with a neat appearance. The thing about cooking beans right out of the pack, is that they split and break. This aesthetic wouldn’t matter though if you want the beans for a soup or a vegan black bean burger.
You must be wondering now how to cook raw black beans. It’s simple. You can use any of the methods listed above. They’ll all work, but they’ll need extra cooking time.
For example, for the stovetop recipe, you can add 2-3 more hours. The pressure cooker would only require a couple more minutes. As for the slow cooker, you’d need to set it on high heat, and add a couple of hours more.
A Few More Things About Cooking Black Beans
A pound of dry black beans easily renders 5 cups of cooked beans. Unless you have a large party, you’d be left with a hefty amount of beans at your hands. Here’s the good news: you can keep the beans in the fridge for about three days, as long as you put them in air-tight containers.
Alternatively, you can divide the beans into individual portions, pack each portion in a freezer bag, then pop it into the freezer. They’ll stay in prime condition for about 3 months.
Whenever you need to eat black beans, or to incorporate them in other recipes, just take out a bag from the freezer. You can let it thaw in the fridge overnight or defrost it in the microwave. Either way, you’d have a delicious meal with no hassle at all.
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