Buying, storing and cooking beans



You can find most beans in grocery stores, organic food stores and bulk food stores. Look for beans in the ethnic, bulk or canned food sections. They are also found in soups or in the baking ingredients aisle.

When buying dry beans, look for:

  • Brightly coloured seeds
  • Uniform size
  • Smooth skins without chips or shriveled seed coats


Dry beans will keep for years if stored in tightly-covered containers in a cool, dark, dry place, but the longer a bean is stored, the drier it becomes, which increases the cooking time. Canned beans are convenient, because they are ready-to-use. Always rinse and drain canned beans before using to reduce any sodium added during the canning process. Canned beans store well in cool, dry places and may be stored up to one year. Cooked beans can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. Separate cooked beans into 1 or 2 cup (250 or 500 ml) portions and lay flat in freezer bags or small containers.

Soaking tips and methods

  • Be sure to check all dry beans before rinsing or soaking. Remove beans with shriveled or broken skins or the occasional pebble or twig.
  • Dry beans must be soaked because their skins do not readily absorb water.


Always soak dry beans before cooking to replace moisture. Use 3 cups (750 mL) of water for each cup (250 mL) of sorted and rinsed beans. Then follow one of these methods:

Quick Soak: Bring water and beans to a boil, cover and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 1 hour. Drain.

Overnight Soak: Let beans and water stand overnight. Drain.

Microwave Soak: Combine 3 cups (750 mL) of hot water and 1 cup (250 mL)  of dry beans in a 4 qt. (4 L) microwaveable casserole dish. Cover and microwave at HIGH (100%) power for 15 minutes or until boiling. Let stand 1 hour. Drain.


To cook soaked beans, use 3 cups (750 mL) water for every cup (250 mL) of soaked beans. Then follow one of these methods:

Conventional Cooking: In a large saucepan, combine soaked beans and water. Cover and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat and simmer until fork tender, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Microwave Cooking: In a 4 qt. (4 L) microwaveable casserole dish combine 3 cups (750 mL) of water and 1 cup (250 mL)

Cooking tips and methods

Try our Comfy Baked Bean Recipe
  • Make sure your saucepan is big enough, as beans double or triple in size during cooking.
  • To prevent foaming, add 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of oil to the cooking water.
  • Seasonings like garlic, onion or herbs can be added while cooking beans.
  • Always cook beans slowly, as cooking them too quickly can break the seed coats. To achieve optimal cooking, beans can be tested as they near the prescribed cooking time.
  • Tomatoes, vinegar or other acidic ingredients should be avoided until beans are tender. Acids slow the cooking process.
  • Beans naturally have a toxic compound in them called phytohemagglutinin. This is destroyed by adequate cooking. For slow cooker recipes, pre-soaked beans should be boiled for 10-12 minutes in fresh water before adding to the crock pot.
  • Using baking soda to aid in cooking beans is not recommended. If hard water is your only choice and you need to add baking soda, limit the amount to 1/8 teaspoon per 2 cups (0.5 ml per 500 ml) water. Soaking Method Directions Long, cold soak or overnight
  • Let stand 12 hours or overnight in refrigerator Quick soak
  • Bring beans and water to boil in a saucepan
  • Boil gently for 2 minutes
  • Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour Microwave soak
  • Combine beans and water in microwavable dish
  • Cover and microwave on high for 10-15 minutes • Let stand for 1 hour
Our Snackin Bean Cake calls for pureed white beans.

Bean purée

Purees are useful for dips and some baked foods.

To make a purée:

  • Place cooked or rinsed and drained canned beans into a food processor.
  • For every 1 cup (250 ml) cooked beans, add ¼ cup (50 ml) water.
  • Blend to make a smooth purée, with a consistency like canned pumpkin.
  • If needed, add 1 additional tablespoon (15 ml) of water at a time.
  • Purées can be frozen in plastic bags and kept for several months.

Bean flours

Bean flours can be found in some grocery stores, bulk food stores

and ethnic or specialty markets. Bean flours can be used in a variety of

recipes. They are a great ingredient to use in gluten-free recipes

or to boost levels of fibre.

Benefits of using bean flours:

  • You can create high protein, high fibre snacks using bean and wheat flour blends
  • Beans are naturally gluten free
  • Beans are low in fat, and have no trans-fat.
  • Beans are easy to blend and incorporate into a range of recipe applications (sweet & savoury, cooking & baking)
  • Beans can enhance juiciness in meat applications, moisture content in baked goods, and crispiness in breadings
  • Beans can extend or substitute a portion of meat in a recipe, which may also increase juiciness

Bean flours can be included in the following foods (to name a few):

  • breads, cakes, muffins, cookies
  • bagels, tortillas, crackers
  • pastas and noodles
  • sweet and savoury crusts
  • blended meat dishes (meatloaf, meatballs, stuffing)
  • soups and sauces
  • extruded snacks