Celebrating 2016 International Year of Pulses


IMG_0041             Nutritious seeds for a sustainable future

The United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP).  A “pulse” is the edible seed of certain legumes such as dry beans, peas and lentils.  Pulses were chosen, according to the UN, to “heighten public awareness of their nutritional benefits as part of sustainable food production aimed toward food security and nutrition.”

In 2015, Nebraska ranked 1st in the nation in Great Northern bean production, 2nd for pinto bean production and 4th for all dry edible bean production.  Our state produces equal to approximately 1 billion servings of dry beans a year.


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Dry Bean Cooking Methods

Let’s Get Cookin’!

To bring out the natural goodness and flavor, dry beans need to be soaked before cooking. The process is simple and ensures great taste and beautiful beans! Here are two methods for soaking your beans.

Soaking Dry-Packaged Beans – Before cooking, soak dry-packaged beans to help soften and return moisture to the beans and reduce cooking time. Most beans will rehydrate to triple their dry size, so be sure to use a large enough pot.

  1. Preferred Hot Soak and Quick Soak Methods — Hot soaking helps dissolve some of the gas-causing substances, making the beans easier to digest. For each pound beans, add 10 cups hot water; heat to boiling and let boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for at least one hour (Quick Soak), or up to 4 hours (Hot Soak).
  2. Traditional Overnight Soak — For each pound (2 cups) dry-packaged beans, add 10 cups cold water and let soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.

Cooking Dry-Packaged Beans

  • Drain soaking water and rinse beans; cook in fresh water. In general, beans take 30 minutes to 2 hours to cook depending on variety. Check bean packaging for specific cooking times and instructions.
  • Spice up beans while they cook. Seasonings such as garlic, onion, oregano, parsley or thyme can be added to the pot while beans are cooking. Add acidic ingredients, such as tomatoes, vinegar, wine or citrus juices, only at end of cooking, when the beans are tender.
  • Add salt only after beans are cooked to tender. If added before, salt may cause bean skins to become impermeable, halting the tenderizing process.
  • To test for doneness, bite-taste a few beans. They should be tender, but not overcooked. When cooling, keep beans in cooking liquid to prevent them from drying out.

Cooking With Canned Beans

Canned beans are a great convenience since they are already presoaked and precooked. Always drain and thoroughly rinse canned beans before adding them to a recipe. It is not necessary to recook canned beans, just heat them if a recipe calls for it. Canned beans, like dry-packaged beans, absorb flavors from other ingredients in a dish because their skins are completely permeable.

Storing Beans

  • Uncooked dry-packaged beans can be stored in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry area. If kept for more than 12 months, dry-packaged beans will lose moisture and may require longer cooking times. Nutrient value is not lost with age.
  • Canned beans may be stored up to 12 months in their original sealed cans.
  • Cooked beans may be refrigerated, in a covered container, for up to five days.
  • Cooked beans may be frozen for up to six months.

Bean Math

One 15-ounce can of beans = one and one-half cups cooked beans, drained.

One pound dry beans = six cups cooked beans, drained.

One pound dry beans = two cups dry beans.

One cup dry beans = three cups cooked beans, drained.

Easy Bean Storage

Beans are not only easy to store, their earthy beauty makes them an attractive decorating option when stored in clear glass containers.  To help them retain their beauty as well as their taste, follow some simple storage steps.

Dry beans should be stored at room temperature in covered containers.  They’ll keep almost indefinitely.  Don’t store dry beans in the refrigerator.

Cooked beans may be kept, covered and refrigerated for 4 or 5 days.  If packaged in moisture and vapor-proof containers, cooked beans will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Always store canned beans in a cool, dry place.