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Cooking and Handling Beans, Peas and Lentils


Beans, peas and lentils are all nutrition superstars. They are classified as legumes which belong to the starch group. Beans mean kidney, garbanzo and white beans, not green or wax beans.


How to Buy

  • Beans, peas and lentils come in dried form in either bags or boxes.

  • Beans also come already cooked and ready to use in cans.
  • Select cans that are neither rusted nor bulging.

How to Store

  • Store dried beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to one year.

  • Store canned beans in the pantry for up to one year.

How to Use

  • Add to salads, soups, stews and spreads.

  • If you have excess gas after you eat beans, here are two tricks to use. There is a digestive aid on the market called Beano. You put a drop or two into your bean dish. It really works! You can also drop a piece of seaweed such as kombu (available at health food stores or Oriental markets) into the cooking liquid.

How to Cook

  • If using cooked, canned beans, always rinse them to reduce the sodium.

  • If cooking dried beans, here are tips on how to soak and cook. You aren't personally involved in the process, so although they take time to soak and cook, you can be doing other things!
  • Split peas and lentils don't need soaking.
  • There are two ways to soak beans, a long way and a short way. Use the regular soaking method when you have time. Use the quick soaking method when you want beans in a hurry.
  • Regular soak: Rinse beans with cool water and drain. Place beans in a large pot (any kind, except unlined aluminum) with two or three times their volume of water and let stand for about 8 hours. If soaking time will be more than 12 hours, refrigerate beans during soaking to prevent fermentation.
  • Quick soak: Place the rinsed, drained beans in a pot with two to three times their volume of water. Bring to a boil, simmer for two minutes, cover, remove from heat, and let stand for one to two hours. Be sure to allow room in the pot for expansion, since dried beans will triple in volume during cooking.
  • Cooking: Cooking is the same after either method. Drain water. Add fresh water to beans and bring to a boil, keeping heat low, until tender. Use the timetable below for cooking beans. For split peas, lentils and other beans that don't require soaking, just add two to three times their volume of water and cook as for soaked beans.
  • Cook time:
    Black beans: 1 - 2 hours
    Black-eyed peas: 1 - 2 hours
    Chickpeas: 1 - 2 hours
    Fava beans: 2 - 3 hours
    Kidney beans: 1 - 2 hours
    Lentils: 45 minutes
    Lima beans: 45 minutes
    Navy and pea beans: 1 - 2 hours
    Pinto beans: 1 - 2 hours
    Small pink beans: 1 - 2 hours
    Soybeans: 3 - 3 hours
    Split peas: 45 minutes
    White beans: 1 - 2 hours


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