Substitute any dry bean in this recipe. Variations included below the main recipe.
1 lb. black beans, picked over to remove broken or wrinkled beans or small stones 6 cups water 1 onion, halved or diced 2-3 whole garlic cloves 1 bay leaf 1 tablespoon salt (this seems like a lot, but is fine with this much water, you can use less if desired)
Place the beans in a big bowl, cover with water, agitate the beans a few times to remove any dirt, drain in a colander and rinse again.
Place black beans, onion, garlic cloves, and bay leaf in a slow cooker. Add water.
Cook on high for about 3-4 hours, testing after 3 hours. To test doneness, spoon out a few beans and blow on them. If the skins peel back, they beans are ready. Taste just to make sure. If all of the water has been absorbed, add more. Beans must stay completely covered to prevent them from burning. If cooking on low for 6-8 hours, test the beans at the 6 hour point.
Add the salt and let cook, or sit with heat off for another 20-30 minutes, to absorb the salt. Remove the bay leaf, garlic cloves, and onion before using, if desired.
Use immediately, or allow to cool before transferring beans and some of the cooking liquid to a zipper-lock freezer bag or airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze up to 3 months. If freezing, flatten bag in freezer–it makes for easier defrosting. Defrost in warm water.
White beans (Great Northern, Cannelini, navy, black eyed peas) *add to the slow cooker: chopped vegetables (carrots, fennel, celery), rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic, onion. *use in salads, soups, purees, braised (side dish)
Pinto *add to the slow cooker: a few sprigs fresh cilantro, dried oregano, a diced chile (serrano, jalapeno, etc), ground cumin, onion, garlic, bay leaf. *use in chili and soups, salads, refried, etc.
Kidney *cook the same way for pinto or black beans *for use in Italian soups–proceed as for the white beans
Of course there are other flavors you can infuse, these are the most basic ways we use them in our house