Cooking beans from dry could not be easier with the use of a pressure cooker. It sounds old-fashioned, but pressure cookers are so handy to have. Cook beans in minutes, grains, stews, soups, and also cuts of meat like pork shoulder will come out tender and quick. My pressure cooker came with a recipe booklet that includes recipes for soups and risottos. I ‘ve also had great results with chicken in the pressure cooker – it comes out tender every time. I love the quickness of pressure cookers, and in my opinion beans are best cooked this way. Another advantage is cost, dried beans are generally very inexpensive and buying them dry cuts down on packaging. Plain beans can be found at almost any grocery store, check your local natural food store for bulk buying options. Our csa pick-up locations Real Food Co-op, Green Planet Grocery, Oh My Goodness Health Food, Greenstar Co-op, and Down to Earth Health Foods all carry dry beans. Try some heirloom varieties – their color and flavor add a lot to simple salads and stews. Cover beans with water, soak overnight or use this handy quick-soaking method. Cover beans with water, bring to a boil and let soak for one hour.
Directions and cooking times will vary for pressure cookers, so be sure to follow the specific directions for your pressure cooker. It’s important to never overfill a pressure cooker, check the inside of yours for the maximum fill line. After the beans are soaked, drain them soaking and draining help get rid of gas-causing sugars. You can cook beans in just water, or add aromatics like garlic, onion, and bay leaf to the pot. Add salt during cooking, or at the end. For black beans I add sautéd onions, dried chipotle pepper, garlic, cumin, and coriander. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot while cooking beans, it helps cut down on foaming which can clog the pressure gauge. A lot of people like to save the cooking water from beans for soups, etc. Hip Pressure-Cooking is a great resource for pressure-cooking time tables. Pressure cookers can be quick-cooled, but for the tenderest beans I recommend letting the pressure drop naturally. Occasionally, your beans might come out a little under-done. If this happens, you can simmer the beans on the stove or just put the lid back on and bring back up to pressure for 3-5 minutes. Beans will keep in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for months. When I have a lot of time for planning, I like to cook two batches of beans and freeze one. It’s easy to throw together quesadillas or tacos on a weeknight!
Pressure Cooker Black Beans
1 lb black beans soaked overnight, or using the quick-soak method
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 dried chile like chipotle or ancho (optional)
1/2 a lime, salt + pepper to taste
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil directly in a stove-top pressure cooker. Add onions and garlic, then sauté until onions are softened. Add cumin, coriander, and beans. Cover beans until just covered with water. Place top on pressure cooker and bring to full pressure, then reduce heat to medium.
Cook beans under pressure for 4 – 6 minutes. (I usually go for 5, right in the middle) Turn off heat and let pressure drop naturally. When opening the pressure cooker, always open the lid away from you to avoid steam burns. Remove dried chile and discard, or for creamy beans puree one cup of beans, with cooking liquid and the dried chile. Drain the remaining beans, then mix pureed beans back in. Squeeze lime juice into the beans, season with salt and pepper to taste.