Good info on soaking and cooking beans found here.
- Hot Soak. In a large pot, add 10 cups of water for each pound (2 cups) of dry beans. Heat to boiling; boil for 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and soak for up to 4 hours. Hot soaking is the preferred method since it reduces cooking time, helps dissolve some of the gas-causing substances in beans, and most consistently produces tender beans.
- Quick Soak. This is the fastest method. In a large pot, add 6 cups of water for each pound (2 cups) of dry beans. Heat to boiling; boil for 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and soak for at least 1 hour.
- Traditional Overnight Soak. This is the easiest method. Place dry beans in a large container; for each pound (2 cups) beans, add 10 cups of cold water. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain and rinse beans soaked by either method with fresh, cool water.
- Place beans in a large pot; cover with fresh water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently until beans are tender but firm. Most beans will cook in 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the variety. Periodically, try a taste test or mash a bean against the side of the pot with a fork or spoon. Check occasionally if you need to add more water. Here are some approximate cooking times for beans:
- Black beans: 60-90 minutes
- Great Northern beans: 45-60 minutes
- Kidney beans: 90-120 minutes
- Navy beans: 90-120 minutes
- Pinto beans: 90-120 minutes
- When to add flavorings:
- Herbs and spices may be added any time, but it is recommended adding them towards the end to reduce flavor loss.
- Add acidic foods (lemon juice, vinegar, tomatoes, wine, etc.) after beans are cooked as these foods can prevent beans from becoming tender.