Beans are very versatile! They can be used to make dips, casseroles, soups, cookies, salads, and more. Beans vary in color, size, texture and flavor, but are easily interchanged in recipes. All of this and they store well for up to 30 years. They really make the ideal food for your longer-term storage.
Another great thing about beans, most kinds in fact, is that you handle them similarly. With the exception of lentils, split-peas and black-eyed-peas (which don't require soaking), beans are soaked and cooked in the same manner. There are two main steps to preparing dried beans: soaking and cooking.
First rinse and clean out any debris from the beans. In preparing this post, I've read about hot soaks, cold soaks and even gas-free soaks. It seems that it is important to soak them, but not for too long or too little. In all cases, discard the water in which the beans have been soaking and use fresh water for cooking (helps reduce gas). I'll try to summarize some of the options:
COLD SOAK - Cover 1 lb. of beans with 10 cups of water. Cover and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
HOT SOAK - Add 1 lb. of beans to 10 cups of boiling water. Let water come to a boil again. Cover tightly, after removing from heat, and let sit for two or three hours.
QUICK SOAK - Add 1 lb. of beans to 10 cups of boiling water. Let water come to a boil again. Boil beans for two or three minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit on counter for one hour.
GAS-FREE SOAK - Add 1 lb. of beans to 10 cups of boiling water. Let water come to a boil again. Boil beans for two or three minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit on counter overnight. You can further reduce gas by rinsing the beans multiple times and changing the soak-water several times.
Don't want to do all of this extra work? Beano works great when added to your beans. Also, eating beans regularly will acclimate your body to beans and reduce gas.
Discard soaking water and add water equivalent to three times the amount of beans. Boil from 45 minutes to 2 hours or until beans reach desired tenderness (which is usually when you can squeeze the bean between your fingers). Don't add salt or anything acidic until the end of the cooking process. Refrigerate or freeze remaining beans. One pound of dry beans usually makes between 5 and 6 cups of cooked beans.
Sources:Bean Fact Sheet - University of ConnecticutMayo Clinic