How do I cook old dry beans?
The longer dry beans are stored, the longer they may take to cook. First, sort and rinse the beans. For each cup of beans, bring 3 cups of water to boil, add the beans to the boiling water, and boil for two minutes. Next, add 3/8 teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) for each cup of beans, cover, and soak for 1 hour or more. More baking soda may be required for older beans. Next, drain and rinse the beans thoroughly, cover with water, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 1-2 hours or until tender. Do not add salt or other ingredients until the beans have softened adequately. (Instructions from the Provident Living FAQ)
Because baking soda is helpful for cooking old beans, it's a good idea to store some baking soda with your beans. Optimum shelf life of baking soda is about 2 years. If you use baking soda regularly, it can be rotated as part of your three-month and long-term supply so you'll always have some on hand.