How to Cook, Soak and Freeze Red Kidney Beans – Learn how to cook dried red kidney beans to prepare them for use in recipes. Includes storage and freezing techniques.
This tutorial will teach you how to cook, soak, prepare and freeze red kidney beans for use in recipes. Red kidney beans are believed to have originated in Peru over 8,000 years ago, along with several other beans known collectively as “common beans.” They were cultivated in Louisiana during the 17th century and planted by Spanish settlers. When Haitians arrived in New Orleans, red beans and rice became a popular dish in the regional cuisine. Red beans hold up well during cooking, making them perfect for simmered dishes.
Kidney beans should always be well cooked. It is important to note that you should never cook raw, dried kidney beans in the slow cooker. According to the F.D.A., red kidney beans contain high concentrations of Phytohemagglutinin:
“The syndrome is usually caused by the ingestion of raw, soaked kidney beans, either alone or in salads or casseroles. As few as four or five raw beans can trigger symptoms. Several outbreaks have been associated with “slow cookers” or crock pots, or in casseroles which had not reached a high enough internal temperature to destroy the glycoprotein lectin. It has been shown that heating to 80°C may potentiate the toxicity five-fold, so that these beans are more toxic than if eaten raw. In studies of casseroles cooked in slow cookers, internal temperatures often did not exceed 75°C.”
Beans and legumes are a great source of fiber, protein, fiber, iron, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and many other beneficial nutrients. I prefer dried beans over canned for several reasons. They are more economical than canned beans and do not contain the unnecessary additives like sodium.
The method below uses a ratio of 10 cups of water per pound of dried kidney beans. If you plan to use a different amount, please adjust accordingly using this ratio. You may notice that the color of dried kidney beans that have been cooked on the stovetop are lighter in color (more pink) than canned versions (which tend to be deep red in color). I believe this has something to do with the cooking method involved. Either way, it’s not a cause for concern.
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- 1 lb dried red kidney beans (please refer to instructions below if you plan to cook more or less)
- 20 cups water, divided
- salt (optional)
You will also need:
- large pot with lid, colander, freezer bags or containers (optional)
- The method here uses a ratio of 10 cups of water per pound of dried red kidney beans. If you plan to use a different amount, please adjust accordingly using this ratio. In a large pot or bowl combine the beans with water at a ratio of 10 cups of water per pound of dried beans. Soak the beans in the water, either overnight at room temperature or through the quick soak method (outlined below). Soaking speeds up the cook time, helps the beans to cook more evenly, and makes them easier to digest.
- Once the beans have soaked, you will notice that they have increased in size, indicating that they have absorbed moisture.
- To quick soak the beans, you will need 1 hour. Place the kidney beans into the bottom of a large pot and cover with water. Bring beans to a boil. Let them boil for 3 minutes, then remove from heat. The beans will expand, so make sure you cover by several inches of water to allow for this. After soaking using either method, drain and rinse the beans.
- Place the beans in a large pot and cover again with the same ratio of fresh water. It is important to use fresh water for boiling; the soaking water contains oligosaccharides, released from the beans during soaking, that can lead to digestive discomfort. Add salt to the cooking water if desired to give the beans more flavor (I use about 1 tablespoon salt for every 10 cups of water). Place on the stovetop and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, or until you reach desired tenderness. I recommend stirring the beans a few times throughout the cooking process so that the beans at the bottom of the pot don’t soften before the beans at the top.
- Once the beans have finished cooking, drain them in a colander.
- If freezing, allow the beans to cool, you can speed this process by rinsing them with cold water. Then transfer them to a freezer safe container, I recommend resealable bags, and freeze until needed. I like to measure out 1 ¾ cups of beans in each bag, which is equivalent to the amount in a standard sized can. They will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- When ready to use your frozen beans, remove the beans from the freezer and thaw. They can be reheated on the stovetop, added to soups and stews or used however you would use canned beans.