Dried beans are an economical and nutritional food that provide numerous vitamins and minerals including protein, iron, fiber and potassium when properly prepared. Approximately 1 pound of dried beans yields 5 to 6 cups of cooked beans. As a general rule, 1 cup of dried beans will expand to 2 to 3 cups during cooking. Prepared beans freeze well and making larger portions is recommended, although smaller batches can be made with success.
Place the dried beans on a clean, flat surface. Sort through them and remove any dirt, debris, pebbles or damaged beans. Transfer to a fine-mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold, running water.
Place the rinsed beans in a large cooking pot, and then cover with cold water. Allow the beans to soak overnight, or at least eight hours, which will soften them and decrease the overall cooking time.
Drain the soaked dried beans by pouring the contents of the cooking pot into a fine-mesh strainer over the sink. Rinse the beans in the colander under warm, running water and rinse out the cooking pot.
Place the beans back into the cooking pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer the beans until done, from 30 minutes to three hours, depending on the type of bean.
Check beans for doneness by removing a single bean every 15 minutes after the first hour of cook time. Pinch or bite the bean to test for the desired tenderness. Once done, remove the beans from the heat and season to taste.