Dehydrating Beans–How To Make ”Quick Cook” Beans

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I have been writing a lot of dehydrating posts lately. I am working up to something, so hang with me for a few more posts because I’m going to make the big reveal soon. Anyway, this something I’m working up to (shhh if you’ve already guessed it) requires beans. Well, I thought for a minute about dehydrating beans, after all, they are already dried. Why would you want to dry them? Well, come to think about it there might be a few reasons, more about that in a minute. So I tried to recall the last time I dehydrated beans. Surely, I must have sometime in the past. After all, I have a blog that focuses on food preservation.

Dehydrating Beans–How To Make ”Quick Cook” Beans

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The biggest reason you might want to dehydrate cooked beans instead of using uncooked dry beans is cook time. Dehydrated cooked beans will require little more than rehydrating. In an off-grid situation this would save time and fuel.

I started with three cans of beans.

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Here are my before pictures.

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Around this time I’m thinking about doing the smarty pants dance and telling you that it’s easy to dehydrate more than one type of food at a time in an Excalibur dehydrator.

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Make sure to set it for the food that requires the lowest temperature. When that food is done you can crank the temperature up higher if you need to.

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Yeah, it turns out I’ve never dehydrated beans before! I have made black bean crumbs.

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And kidney bean crumbs (And pinto bean crumbs not shown).

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Now at this point I’m thinking that, well, there must be something about the canned beans. They heat them to such high temperatures they must be overcooked, right?

In my defense, I do know a thing or two about beans. So let me take a little detour and tell you what I know, then we’ll come back to stuff I don’t (or didn’t, as the case may be).

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Beans have phytic acid which interferes with digestion and oligosaccharides which causes, uummm, commotion in the digestive tract.  Soaking dried beans before you cook them decreases both. Although soaking will reduce the phytic acid down to a reasonable level you can reduce further by adding acid to the soaking water. Here I am adding apple cider vinegar, but you can use whey or another kind of vinegar. Be warned, though, the texture of the beans is changed by the acid.

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I am comfortable with a good long soak. You might try the adding the acid if you have digestive problems.

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Be sure to rinse your beans before you cook them. The phytic acid and oligosaccharides are now in the water so you want to discard it.

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I usually leave my beans set on low overnight, so about 8 hours. The soaking reduces cooking time so if your crock pot runs hot you may need less time to cook your beans.

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Before you soak your beans be sure to sort them. I found this rock when sorting pinto beans.

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If those oligosaccharides (sugars that cause gas) are really too much to handle you can try adding a bit of baking soda to the soaking water. They reduce the raffinose family of sugars.

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Kidney beans have a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin (kidney bean lectin) and need to be boiled for 10 minutes to destroy this toxin. Other beans also contain smaller amounts, but still might have enough to make you sick. So the rule of thumb is always cook larger beans in boiling water for 10 minutes. This includes kidney beans, white kidney beans, lima beans and broad beans. Since I have to boil these beans and they are already in the pot I usually will go ahead and finish cooking them in the pot and rarely finish them in the slow cooker.

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Well, using dried beans certainly reduced the bean crumb situation but it’s still not what I had in mind. Here is a shot of my dehydrated dried black beans.

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The pinto beans were a little worse.

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Then the kidney beans seemed the same as the canned. I’m sure by now you’re wondering about temperature. The picture of my Excalibur above shows the heat set at 135 F° which is too high for beans. Before I put these kidney beans I did a bit of research and if you think about what is happening during the dehydrating process it will make sense. The skin was drying faster than the inside of the bean forcing the skin to be too tight around the bean and pushing the inside to the outside, basically exploding.  So I dried these beans on 95 F°. But the beans still exploded. The problem was the center was too dense to dry out at the same rate as the thin skin.

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So I decided to try something different with a smaller amount of beans. I know beans are cheap but I was tired of wasting them.

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I cooked the black beans for half the time called for. I cooked them for about 10 minutes on low heat after bringing them up to a boil.

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I cooked the pinto beans for about same amount of time, 10 minutes on low heat after bringing them up to a boil.

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Here is the inside of the half cooked bean so you can see the level of “doneness” I was going for.

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The inside is definitely not as mushy as a fully cooked bean, but you can tell they are not raw either.

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Then I did the same thing with the kidney beans. I cooked them for about 10 minutes after bringing them up to a boil. I wanted to keep the kidney beans at a boil a bit longer than the other beans because of the phytohaemagglutinin. Honestly, this is a tricky bean to make into a quick-cook bean. If you give them to someone who does not understand that they need to be cooked longer before they are safe to eat, well, it could get ugly. So use sound judgement when making quick-cook kidney beans.

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Here you can see my lower temperature on the Excalibur.

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It worked!! Look at all those whole beans.

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The pinto beans look a lot better too.

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The kidney beans were still falling apart more than I would have liked, but I was fighting myself wanting to let them cook longer.

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So now it was time to try it on a larger scale.

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Same great results!

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Great results with the pinto beans as well.

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Here is a close up of the pinto beans.

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On the left are the half cooked beans and on the right are raw dried beans. You can definitely see a difference.

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The kidney beans are holding together too.

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Here is the close-up of the kidney beans. Keep in mind that I would cook whatever I put these kidney beans in at rolling boil for at least 5 minutes and probably would add a few minutes just for good measure.

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Store your quick-cook beans in a Mason jar. I vacuum seal mine with a FoodSaver with a jar attachment before placing them in my food storage. This attachment is for wide-mouth jars.

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They also make a jar attachment for regular mouth jars.

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I love the jar attachments because they even fit on the small jars.

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Label and put away!

These beans are not like most dehydrated food. They are kind of in limbo somewhere between done and not not done. What I have done is make them extremely fast beans to cook, hence the term quick-cook.  However, they will need to be cooked a bit more before you can eat them. They need to be cooked at least 5 minutes at a rolling boil (I would add a few more minutes onto the kidney beans, see above). The would be perfect for back-packing meals or meals-in-jars. Oh dangit, didn’t I say shhhhhh. Ok, well, let’s just keep it between you and me. Let me just say I have you covered for directions on both.

Oh yeah, no worries, I’ve learned my lesson, I am humbled and admit that I do not know everything about dehydrating. No chance of a smarty pants dance from this girl!

  • Olaide says:

    Wow! This is indeed educating! But pls, a few questions:
    1. For reduction of probable leaching of some nutrients into the soaking water, might one skip the soaking step?
    2. For better preservation of the physical attributes of the beans, such as colour and shape, what type of dryer would you recommend amongst sun-dryer, cabinet dryer, oven-dryer and freeze-dryer?
    Lastly, in the absence of any dehydrator, can sun-drying work reasonably well too?
    Many thanks indeed, Ms Jennifer

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Olaide,
      I would not skip the soaking step unless you want to cook the beans longer. And if you’re already worried about the color, shape, and nutrients that will just deplete the beans more.
      I recommend using an Excalibur Dehydrator. No, I wouldn’t let them just dry in the sun unless it was above 100 degrees Freiheit.

  • FoodJunkie says:

    This process is a great idea, but i found the hot soak in the slow cooker really confused the cooking times. In my slow cooker the beans are fully cooked after 8 hours on low. Would a cold soak followed by cooking half the normal cooking time work pretty much the same?

  • Zoe Tassava says:

    I wish I had found this post yesterday! I received a bag of frozen black beans that I didn’t have the room to store in my freezer. Because I thought to myself “These would be so much easier if I could store them dry!” I had the “bright” idea of dehydrating them. I ended up with lots of split open beans. Thanks to your post, I’ve learned that I should have cooked them on a lower temperature AND that as is they might make good “mashed” beans. I’m also going to try turning them into black bean flour for crackers or brownies.

  • Mindy says:

    Great info, thanks for sharing!

  • Michelle Newman says:

    Couldn’t the exploded beans be used to make refried beans instead of wasted?

  • Larry says:

    Hi Jennifer, I appreciate your article. 3 questions/statements; I soaked all my different beans together for 12 hours. Black, red, kidney, and pinto beans. soaked them in salt, apple cider, and some baking soda. After rinsing them I noticed all the beans were already on the soft side before I even cooked them so I boiled water and reduced heat and cooked them only 5 minutes. Now they are all semi-mushy and some have already shed their skin?? Did I soak them too long? Did they still need to be cooked? Since they were already on the soft side after soaking and rinsing did I still need to cook them? They are already cooked once and sold cooked. Should I have kept the beans separated during soaking and cooking before dehydrating them? Is it necessary to cook cooked beans again? Thank you… Larry

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Larry,

      It sounds like you started off with quick cook beans instead of just dried beans…..:) Yes, it’s best to keep them separate because cooking times and dehydrating times will vary from bean to bean. No, if you already have cooked beans you don’t need to cook them again.

  • Barbara says:

    Thanks so much for all the great info. My question: Do you have any idea what the shelf life is after the vacuumed sealed container is opened?.

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Barbara,

      It really depends on the environment that you store them in. If you store them in a dry cool dark place they could last for years.

  • Sandy says:

    Great research, and it helps to have some nutritional science to add to our understanding.

    Some beans can be sprouted, like lentils and garbanzos. Even though they are usually eaten fresh and raw, I wonder if having had some of their starches turned into sugars and plant tissue, they would dehydrate and rehydrate well without requiring cooking?

    Another thing that helps my bean digestion is miso, of which there are companies making miso without soy.

    I also wondered about instant soup mixes. Maybe they could be formulated with the intention to add oil or fat at the point of rehydrating or cooking? Oil or fat would increase the amount of bile our bodies would add to the digestive process for people with healthy livers and gall bladders, and this can also aid digestion.

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Sandy,
      Yes, sprouted beans can be dehydrated and re-hydrated, but I think they would require cooking, unless you cook the sprouts first. I agree, miso is great for digestion. Yes, you can add fat to any soup mix once it’s re-hydrated.

  • Rhonda Morin says:

    I am still confused why you would do this. Can’t you just can the beans in the same mason jars and call it a day? I am just a tweeny bit confused.

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Rhonda,

      Yes, you can pressure can beans. However, not everyone owns a pressure canner and using this method will make for a lighter smaller package to place into food storage. Also this is great method to use if you’re putting food into a backpack for hiking or even a bug out bag.

    • MizDottie says:

      I’m limited on space to store long-term food storage. A pressure canned quart jar of chili or soup will yield 4 cups while a dehydrated soup or chili mix will yield 8-10 cups. I get twice as much food in the space I have. It’s also much lighter to take camping and my camper is really small so saving space is important there too.

  • Beth Rankin says:

    Thanks Jennifer….and thanks to Google for me finding you. I work with small farms trying to turn their surplus produce into shelf-safe food for consumers to use year-round and am developing a line of dehydrated soups. I wanted the soups to be quick-cook so beans were a puzzle and I was getting to this solution but you sure saved me time!

  • Susie says:

    Here is the summery of what I think you said…
    1. Rinse and soak beans over night
    2. Drain, add fresh water, bring to boil and cook about 30 mins until you can cut them in half.
    3. Drain and spread on Excalibur trays.
    4. Set temp at 95
    5. MY QUESTION — how long do you dry in the Excaliber dehydrator?
    I re-read this over and over but I can’t find how long you dehydrated the semi cooked beans? Please respond!!!
    Susie xoxo

  • Ken says:

    I have a comment and a question. The comment, especially for the preppers out there, is the amount of water that you use preparing beans right out of the bag. Rinsing, Boiling etc, and it all has to be with drinking quality water. This removes that requirement in a time of an emergency, and reduces the water needed to the amount to rehydrate.

    The question is this: Have you tried, or do you think there would be any benefit to doing a long soak on the beans, then dehydrating them? I know it seems counter intuitive, but it would have a few purposes. It would remove the need to rinse, saving water; but it should also allow the beans to remain in a more “beanlike” state when cooking.

    Thoughts?

    • Ken says:

      I have beans soaking right now, and I’m going to throw a tray in the dehydrator and report the results.

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Ken,

      I’ve actually done this before, while experimenting with how to dehydrate beans and the result was very hard beans that took twice as long to cook. Some took so long to cook that I gave up and threw them out.

  • rebecca says:

    I would love to make my own meals in a bag as the ready to buy camp style bags are so expensive. would you cook your noodles, pasta as u did your beans . I would like to make powered chees for mac and cheese any tips ?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Rebecca,

      You could dehydrate cooked pasta if you wanted. I’m not sure about the cheese. I know you can buy commercially powdered cheese, but I have not found any that I would consider healthy enough to serve my family. Dehydrating soft cheese might be an option but there is too much oil in cheddar cheese for it to dehydrator and store well.

  • Carol says:

    I’m wondering about what I could do to have long term storage of a black bean burger mix. It takes canned beans, onion, bread crumbs and spices. I was think mix it all up and then dry or vacuum. not sure, any ideas? When ready to rehydrate, then add egg and water and remix. I don’t know how much storage time you get with the food saver bags or jars. I’m new to it but loving it.

    Thx for the help.

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Carol,

      That’s a great idea to have a ready made mix. Yes, those items should be fine to last up to a year in a vacuum sealed container. The storage time depends on exposure to air, light and temperature.

  • Dan says:

    Can you please explain your cooking time again. Directions for cooking pinto beans is anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours but in your article you said you cut the cooking time in half only cooing them 10 minutes after bring them to a boil? That seems a long way from being at the half way point.
    Thanks for your help…..
    DAN

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Dan,
      I’m not sure what directions you’re following but cooking time for beans can vary greatly depending on your prep. For example I soaked these beans so that greatly reduced the cooking time of the beans. The longer you soak the less time you need to cook your beans. Anyway, you’re looking for beans that are cooked. In other words, you could eat them but they are a bit underdone. So you can cut them in half, but it’s not following apart. It’s not an exact science and you might need to do a little experimenting to get them just right.

  • Kim says:

    I love to cook kidney beans in my bean pot with spices and chunks of ham. Can I dehydrate the left overs?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Kim,
      Yes, you can dehydrate the left overs. Be sure to watch the fat content of the ham. As long as you have used lean chunks it should be fine. However, fat and oil will not dehydrate well for long term storage. So keep in mind that if there is a lot of fat in your beans they could go rancid even after being dehydrated.

  • patty says:

    I’ve been experimenting with thermos cooking. The results are quite impressive. Your expenses are in producing boiling water, and in time spent waiting for the slow cooking process – sort of like crock pot, but don’t have to worry about heat in the kitchen during the process. Beans, however, require having to reheat thermos contents to a boil again in several hours, so that’s why I’m here surfing for tips on drying beans to use as an ingredient in thermos cooking. BTW, if you want to try thermos cooking, you need a thermos that holds the heat – I’ve found the “NISSAN” has not only been universally recommended, but use them and recommend them myself.

    Also, don’t have an Excalibur dehydrator. I have a wood stove and suspend large window screens from cup hooks screwed securely into ceiling rafters. It takes a day or two to dry most things and is quick enough for me, especially since dehydrating in this way costs me nothing. It does help to have a tall husband to lend a hand.

    • patty says:

      UPDATE: Apparently when you dehydrate at ceiling level, it is slow enough that it is not necessary to half cook the beans.
      Last fall, I bought 100# of soybeans from a local farmer, mostly to make soymilk (although hubby does like his cooked beans). Anyway, the beans are pretty fresh so when I pressure cooked them for 7 minutes (what I thought would be half the required cooking time), they were done, not just half cooked. I dried the fully cooked beans for 2 days on screens hung 1 foot from the ceiling, and they are all intact – no exploded beans.
      Have already tried them in a thermos casserole and they came out perfect!
      Thanks for your info. I’ll file it in case I move and eventually end up with an Excalibur dehydrator.

  • EZ says:

    Following the above directions I used 16 oz of dried pinto beans to produce 14.5 oz of quick cook beans after 7 hrs in my Excaliber (probably could have used less time). They recooked in 10 minutes to al dente firmness. Instant refried beans cost about 25 cents/oz (cheapest I could find) and dried pinto beans cost about 8 cents/oz (less if bought in bulk) so this is quite a savings if one neglects the electricity and time involved.

  • Kathy Griffin says:

    As the beans are soaking in the crockpot, isn’t that doing a little cooking as well. When I soak dried beans overnight, it usually takes at least an hour for them to cook. But I’m just soaking them in a bowl on the counter, not in something with a low heat. Is that the difference in the cook time?

  • Linda Parsons says:

    I am very interested in making some “quick beans” in my dehydrator. My beans have been soaking at least 8 hours now. I’m starting with pinto beans so should I just cook the beans 10 min. after bringing them to a simmer? Won’t that make them have to cook a lot longer after they are rehydrated? I would want them to be done in about 20 minutes.

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Linda,
      You want to cook the beans until they are a little on the firm side, but still cooked. The time will depend on how old your beans are and whether you are boiling them or simmering them.

  • Laurie T. says:

    I am really confused. You say, “I cooked the black beans for half the time called for. I cooked them for about 10 minutes on low heat after bringing them up to a boil.” But black beans typically take 60-90 minutes to fully cook. If I halve that time it would be 30-45 minutes, not 10 minutes. So my question is, once the beans are soaked, how long do I cook them for in preparation for dehydration?

    Thank you!

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Laurie,
      It depends on how long you soak the beans as to how long the cooking time should be. I soaked these beans for over 8 hours so the cooking time was about 20 to 30 minutes at a slow simmering boil. It’s not an exact science so a few minutes longer or shorter is not too critical. Another factor in determining the cooking time for beans is their age. So if you have beans that have been in storage for awhile they may have a longer cooking time. You may have to experiment a bit to get the exact time for your beans.

  • Carol says:

    You mention that adding acid(ACV) to the soak water to help remove the gas producing stuff* changes the texture: could you provide more detail about this?
    Thanks for such a great info article!!!

  • Jo B says:

    Thanks so much for the quick response! I can’t wait to put all of your great experimentation to good use! 🙂 I love the fact that my “meals in a jar” can be filled with my own inexpensive quick-cook beans (thanks to you)!

  • Jo B. says:

    Love your post. To summarize, do you soak the dried beans before cooking them for half of the recommended time? Or do you just cook them for half the recommended time and then dehydrate? It’s not clear whether soaking is required when going this route. Thanks!!

  • Mark says:

    Do you know what the shelf life of the beans are? I store food and I like to put dates on them and it would help if I knew the shelf life.

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Mark,

      I don’t store any food over 5 years. Beans should last at least that amount of time if you store them properly. Over 5 years or so they will need longer to cook and some may never have the soft texture that fresher beans have.

  • CityMouse says:

    Great information – a fascinating post! I am a city-kid , and new to much of this homestead/prepper information, but have been on a mission to educate myself as to how to be a bit more self-reliant. Looking for the sensible balance between “fanatic” and “irresponsible.” 🙂

    Fortunately – I have always loved these topics, and I really appreciate that you include a practical amount of technical “whys” behind the step-by-step “whats.”

    Cheers!

  • Connie says:

    Well gosh I learned a lot about cooking beans with this post; vinegar, baking soda, rinsing after soaking, and boiling them to remove toxins too. I have never been a fan of crock pot beans but like to make them in a pressure cooker. I am guessing that the high temps of the pressure cooker does the job of removing the toxins in a short amount of time? I pressure them for 2-5 mins usually.

    And I have never thought about drying cooked beans before. Really great post, thanks for all the info.

  • Mike the Gardener says:

    I can honestly say that I have never tried to dehydrate beans. Something new to learn along with all the other great information that you provided here.

  • Chella says:

    Thank you for this post! I just purchased a lot of pinto beans, black beans, red beans, and white beans last night to dehydrate. I would have over cooked my beans .

    Have a great day 🙂

  • Norma says:

    I have accidentally over-dried beans as well! However, when rehydrated they are very much like refried beans. Now I sometimes do that on purpose! Also, I find that I seldom ever dry anything over 125 degrees on my Excalibur.

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