Basic Big Beans: Makes 6 cups cooked beans

Chick-peas (garbanzo), pinto, black, lima, kidney, navy, great northern, Swedish brown, cannelloni, Christmas limas are some favorite varieties of big beans.

Place beans in a large bowl. Cover with twice as much water as beans and let stand 8 hours or overnight. Rinse off the soaking water and cook beans according to recipe.

You can also quick-soak beans by bringing the same proportion of beans and water to a boil, turning heat off and letting beans soak for 2 hours. Drain off water and cook beans according to recipe.

Simmered Beans

2 cups dried beans, soaked
6 cups water
3-inch piece of kombu, soaked 5 minutes in cold water
1 tsp sea salt

Drain off soaking water. Put soaked beans, fresh water and kombu in a pot; bring to boil. Lower heat and let simmer, covered, until beans are quite tender (55-60 minutes). A well-cooked bean can be easily mashed on the roof of the mouth with the tongue. Add water during cooking if needed. Salt beans at the end of the cooking time.

Pressure-Cooked Beans

2 cups dried beans, soaked
4 cups water
3-inch piece of kombu, soaked 5 minutes in cold water
1 tsp sea salt

Drain off soaking water. Put soaked beans, fresh water and kombu in a pressure cooker. Attach lid. Bring up to pressure on medium heat. You should hear a soft hissing sound. Lower heat and let beans cook 40-45 minutes. Remove from heat and allow pressure to come down naturally or run cold water over the top of the cooker. Add salt after cooking.

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