Use this recipe as a template for a full-flavored, perfectly cooked pot of beans every time. Every step in this master method helps produce a superior bean, from seasoning throughout for better flavor to storing in the cooled cooking liquid for the best texture. The total cook time for dried beans varies depending on how hard the beans are and the mineral quality of the water; start checking for doneness about 15 minutes early, and plan for extra simmering if needed.
Place beans in a large bowl or container; cover with cold water to 4 inches above beans. Let stand at room temperature overnight; drain.
Bring drained beans and 10 cups water to a boil in a large Dutch oven, skimming surface occasionally. Add oil, 1 teaspoon salt, thyme, bay leaves, and onion to pan. Reduce heat to low; cover, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Cover, and simmer another hour or more depending on the bean (see chart, below).
Remove thyme, bay leaves, and onion; discard. Stir in remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cool to room temperature in cooking liquid. Place beans and cooking liquid in an airtight container; refrigerate.
How Long to Simmer Each Bean Variety
Cook the beans with the aromatics and 1 teaspoon salt for the first 30 minutes. Add the second teaspoon of salt, and cook for the suggested time or until beans are tender. Red kidney beans: 1 hr. Great Northern beans: 1 hr. 15 min. Black beans: 1 hr. 15 min. Cannellini beans: 1 hr. 45 min. Pinto beans: 1 hr. 45 min.
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