- Be sure to sort well. Removing rocks and dirt clods is always a good thing.
- Rinse beans well and place in pot. Fill cooking pot at least 2/3 full of water, making sure to cover beans and then some.
- Bring water and beans to a boil. Remove from heat and cover. Let sit for one hour. (You can usually skip this step with navy beans).
- Remove cover and bring beans to a boil. Add some sort of fat to tenderize the beans: a chunk of leftover ham, a ham bone, bacon, even a dollop of coconut oil, butter, lard or, in a pinch, shortening.
- Stir fairly frequently while cooking the beans. This releases the starch and helps thicken the liquid so you don’t end up with beans in a clear liquid (unless, of course, you prefer them that way).
- Be sure your beans aren’t too old. Old beans stay hard for longer than I care to cook them. We usually end up eating them in a firmer state with unhappy comments from the audience.
- Take care not to let the beans scorch while cooking! They smell terrible and it’s impossible to remove the scorched taste.
- Same goes for reheating: stir frequently and scrape the bottom of the pan, adding liquid as needed to prevent beans from boiling dry.
- I’ve been told that pressure-cooking beans takes just a few minutes and produces tender beans, but I’ve yet to try it. Go for it and let me know.