How To Cook Dry Beans in a Pressure Cooker

Store Bought Beans

Heinz has a massively unfair advantage over us amateurs. They buy most of their beans in the Midwest and Ontario, Canada, and test every batch-which vary by the time of year and area where they're grown-for their ability to absorb water, how well they'll hold together before and after cooking, how intact they'll be, how many will remain hard and how many become broken, and how many will lose their skins. Then Heinz adjusts the cooking of each batch to achieve perfection. Heinz cooks its beans in two stages. They call the first one "blanching," but it seems more like soaking in hot, circulating water for a certain amount of time; they wouldn't tell me just how long. I guess that Heinz discovered my hot-soaking method before I did-though I've never seen it published. At the end of the blanching stage, the beans will have absorbed some water all the way to their centers.

Heinz then mixes the beans with its secret sauce and cooks them right in the sealed cans at a temperature not normally available to us laypersons, about 250F, which is way above the boiling point of water. How could I duplicate this at home?





Several ingredients are said to slow the cooking, even keep the beans hard and toughen their skins. These are sugar (including molasses), salt, and anything acidic, such as tomatoes. If we want our beans to absorb these flavors, we have to add them near the end. When preparing most complicated bean dishes, such as cassoulet and Boston baked beans, you begin with fully cooked white beans, add delicious flavorings, and bake them for a long time, during which the flavors permeate the beans.

Bean Counting - How To to Measure Beans

  • A pound of beans measures about 2 cups.
  • Beans triple in volume when soaked and cooked.
  • A cup of dry beans yields 3 cups cooked.
  • A pound of dry beans yields 6 cups cooked.
  • Use 3 cups of water per cup of dry beans for soaking.
  • A pound of dry beans makes about 9 servings of baked beans.
  • A pound of dry beans makes about 12 servings of bean soup.
  • A one-pound can of cooked beans measures about 2 cups.


Is it done yet?

Bean aficionados recommend several methods to check for doneness. A bean is fully cooked when you can easily mash it with a fork, or when it squashes easily between your fingers.

Want a foolproof way to test? The American Dry Bean Board recommends a taste test; Beans should be tender, but not mushy.


Basic Steps for Pressure Cooking Beans

  1. Always use a recipe, or if you are an experienced pressure cooker user, use the Cooking Time Charts.
  2. Presoak beans.
  3. Drain and rinse presoaked beans in cold running water and place in the cooker.
  4. Cover clean presoaked beans with water or other liquids, or combinations, by at least 2 inches above the level of the beans.
  5. Add any other ingredients such as onions or carrots, etc., and any flavorings or seasonings like herbs, peppers and spices. Add salt after and any acidic flavorings like vinegars, hot sauce,lemon juice or tomatoes or salsa after cooking is finished
  6. Add 1-2 T. whole fat or oil (veg oil, bacon drippings, lard, butter) to the cooker. Do not margarine as it is not totally fat.
  7. Do not fill the pressure cooker more than half full when cooking any dried legumes.
  8. Following the manufacturers instructions, seal the cooker and bring it up to15psi pressure.
  9. When the pressure regulator indicates the proper pressure, reduce the heat and start timing.
  10. Maintain heat and pressure for the length of time indicated for the type of beans you are cooking.
  11. Use the natural release method before opening the lid.
  12. Test for doneness, a bean is fully cooked when you can mash it easily between your finger and thumb or easily mashed with a fork.
  13. If more cooking time is needed return to pressure for an additional 3 minutes, use the natural release method and check for doneness again. Repeat as necessary.
  14. For thicker, creamier beans remove 2-3 cups cooked beans and broth, puree until smooth and stir back into the pot.

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