If you’ve ever taken the time to look in the canned bean aisle ... one could spend all day looking at all the different varieties and options.  Chili Beans, Ranch Beans, Baked Beans, Chickpeas, Pinto Beans, Refried Beans, Bean Dips ... just to name a few ...!

A can of beans is usually around 15oz - just under 2 cups.  But consider that the can is also made up of liquid in addition to the beans - so when you drain the beans, you’ll really only have about 12 oz (1 1/2 cups) of beans.

A bag of dried beans is usually 16 oz - 2 cups - or 1 pound.  Once cooked, dried beans expand to about 2 1/2 times their original size.  So a 1 pound package of dried beans will end up yielding roughly 5 or 6 cups!

So if you like adding beans to different dishes - whether for nutritional purposes or taste and texture - or to humbly stretch your grocery dollars - you may want to do the math - and also consider the amount of space it takes to store the can beans vs. a bag of dried.

When you use the Pressure Cooker to cook dried beans, you don’t have to soak them prior to cooking.  They will just cook a few/several minutes longer.  But you can - I’ll show you here how to do the Quick Soak Method.

To Quick Soak - take 1 cup of dried beans.  Place them in a saucepan (with a lid) and cover them with about 3 inches of cold water.  Then turn the heat on and bring to a boil.  Simmer/boil the beans for 2 minutes ... and then immediately turn the heat off and place a lid on your saucepan.  Allow the pan to sit (off the heat, covered) for 1 hour.  When the hour is up you can drain and rinse the beans & proceed to cooking immediately or you can refrigerate the quick soaked beans to cook later in the day.  ** Overnight Soak Method (click here).

This Basic Recipe is a blend of one I found by Tori Ritchie and one I found by Lorna Sass.  What I love about making the beans myself is I can add whatever type of spices I want!

To make the Basic Kidney Beans - I took my Quick-Soaked Beans - 1 cup - and added them to the pot of my Pressure Cooker.

I also added 1 carrot (unpeeled and cut in half), 1 celery stalk (cut in half), a few garlic cloves, a bay leaf and 1 dried Chile de Arbol -  a Mexican dried red hot chili pepper - you can usually find these in the Ethnic section by the spices, or I have seen them in the produce section and you can find them at Penzeys.  For truly basic, basic beans - omit the red pepper.

Place all of this in the pot along with the beans and you’ll need to add water - about 4 cups.  Several books I’ve read say 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans is sufficient - wouldn’t go less.

And then this is a very important step - you’ll need to add 1 - 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil to the water ... Do Not Stir!  You want to see the oil pooled on top of the water.  The oil helps control the foaming that happens as the dried beans are cooked under pressure.

Also - do  not any salt at this point.  And be mindful of any salty chicken broth or the like that perhaps you may want to try using.  The salt can inhibit the beans from cooking - keeping their outer shell tough.  And one of the joys of beans is the toothsome texture you can get!

Ok - now it’s time to get the pressure built and do some cooking!  So place the lid on your pressure cooker (that is on the burner), lock it into place and turn the burner to high.  You need the burner on high in order for steam to build and cook the beans in no time.  I have a stove-top pressure cooker, not electric.

Once pressure has been reached - which is indicated by the pressure valve popping up (the yellow button like thing) - Start the timer.

If you have the operating manual of your pressure cooker - there should be a timing chart for Dried Beans.  Follow that timing.  For mine - Kidney Beans are suggested to cook for 10 - 12 minutes.  You can always cook them longer if you find they aren’t done - so I cooked mine for 10.  Worked like a charm.

So once the pressure was ready to go - I immediately turned the heat of the burner down to low or medium low.  You want to maintain pressure (keep the yellow valve up) - at the lowest possible heat (saving energy).  Once pressure has been reached and the heat has been turned down - this is considered the cooking time.

Once the 10 minutes was up, I turned off the burner (and if your stove is electric - you’ll need to move the pressure cooker off the heat because the burner will stay warm for a while) - and allowed the pressure to release naturally.

Releasing the pressure naturally means that the pressure cooker is still locked, but it is off the heat and therefore, the steam on the inside of the cooker will naturally come down.  You can play around with quick releasing the pressure too - especially if you will be adding the beans to a dish that needs additional cooking time - like chili, etc.  Quick release methods should be outlined in your manual - whether you switch a button to manually release the steam or you use the cold water release method.

Once the pressure has completely released, you’ll be able to open the pressure cooker.  And drain the beans.  Or if you have time - you can allow the beans to cool in the broth until they can be refrigerated.  I discard the vegetables either way - the flavors have all been released.  If you want to keep the cooking liquid - go for it - you can add to soups, broths, etc.  Sometimes the cooking liquid is what gives people trouble.

You can store the beans in the refrigerator for a couple/few days - or my favorite is to freeze what I don’t use within a couple days and have cooked beans at my disposal at any time I need them!

And then what you do with your beans is up to you!  You can use these cooked dried beans in any recipe that uses canned beans ... Chili, Soup, Tacos, Salads, Rice, Appetizer Dips, Burgers, etc.  ENJOY!