Soaking: Dried beens, unlike lentils and dried peas, need pre-soaking. How long you need to soak the dried beans depends on their size. Usually for small white beans 2 hours of soaking will do, and 3 to 4 hours for larger beans. Some people advise the soaking to take place overnight, but I don't find it necessary. If the beans are soaked for too long they will puff-up and split. To soak the beans, cover them nicely with cold water and wait. Discard the soaking water and use fresh water for the boiling.
Boiling the dried beans: Place the beans in a heavy saucepan and cover them with twice the amount of water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to slow simmer. You can keep the lid on while the beans are simmering. Do not add any salt to the beans yet, as it will increase the amount of time needed to boil them. After about 25 minutes of simmering, strain the beans and discard the first water. Add more water and repeat. Fifteen minutes after the beans start simmering again, strain them for a second time and repeat. Cook for another 30 minutes after that and try the beans if they are ready. Simmer them until soft and then add the other ingredients.
Usually beans are known to make people gassy. The reason for changing the water during cooking is to make the beans not gassy. You can try it without changing the water, or with changing the water only once, and you will see what I mean.
Baking dried beans: To bake beans you will need a casserole or a glass dish with a lid. The best way to do it is to start the beans by boiling them until the first water change, then strain them and saute them in a frying pan with the other ingredients and seasonings you would be using for your casserole, transfer them in the baking dish and finish them in the oven with a few cups of liquid. (The liquid could be chicken stock, water, tomato juice, etc.) Bake the beans until most of the liquid is absorbed and the beans are soft. Instead of casserole, you can stuff the beans in peppers at this point and bake them in the oven. Pour 3 cups of water in the baking dish with the peppers, cover with a lid and bake for about 45 minutes.
Cooking dried beans is actually quite easy and doesn't require any advanced cooking skills. Following my instructions you will be able to make a great dish every time. If you don't I'll refund your money in full. Oh....wait, you didn't pay anything for that. Cheers.
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