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how to cook black beans


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Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hours, 10 minutes

Total: 1 hours, 25 minutes

Servings: 6


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Step 1

First, pick through your black beans for debris (sometimes tiny rocks can sneak in). Place the beans in a fine mesh colander or sieve and rinse very well. Pour the beans into a large Dutch oven or saucepan (4 quarts or larger in capacity).

Step 2

Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, olive oil, salt, cumin, orange zest and red pepper flakes (if using) to the pot. Pour in the water.

Step 3

Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Remove the lid and reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer. Give the beans a stir to make sure none are stuck to the bottom of the pot, and set a timer for 1 hour. Leave the pot uncovered and adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer (you should see several small bubbles popping to the surface at any given moment).

Step 4

Once the timer goes off, test a couple of beans by using a fork to press them against the side of the pot. If they’re easy to press through, taste a few (carefully! they’re hot!) to see if they’re sufficiently plump, tender and delicious.

Step 5

Otherwise, continue cooking, testing in 15 to 30 minute intervals as needed, until they’re done. If you’re running low on liquid, add water in 1-cup increments so the beans are covered at all time. (As mentioned in the post, if your beans are old, they can take several hours to cook and require a lot more water, and some very old beans may never cook through.)

Step 6

Once the beans are very tender and tasty, you can increase the heat a little to reduce the cooking liquid into a more gravy-like consistency, about 5 to 15 minutes (it will continue to thicken up as the beans cool).

Step 7

Remove the pot from the heat. Carefully remove the orange zest and both bay leaves. Use a fork to press the garlic against the side of the bowl to break it up. Add the cilantro, if using, and lime juice. Stir to combine. Season to taste with additional salt, if needed. Use as desired.

Step 8

Allow leftover beans to cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 to 5 days. You can also freeze leftover beans for several months.***