Q. I grew up in a culture that uses beans in many of its traditional dishes. All types of beans are represented, including white and black beans, but the majority of dishes use kidney beans. I’ve always prepared and cooked my kidney beans the traditional way, which is to start with dried beans, soak them overnight, and then cook them for a few hours in a pot on the stove. It’s very time consuming and I have to admit that lately I’ve been getting kind of tired of the lengthy process. I’ve tried using canned beans, but the flavour and texture just isn’t right in my opinion. Plus, I’m always unsure of all the extra ingredients they add. I would like to continue cooking with dried beans, but I’m looking for a quicker way to prepare them. Can you microwave kidney beans?
A. This is something that most people aren’t aware of, but you can actually microwave kidney beans. It is a quicker and easier way to cook dried beans, so hopefully it’s the convenient alternative you were looking for. You still have to soak them beforehand, but the actual cooking time can be cut in about half.
Begin by washing the beans under cold running water by placing them in a colander and letting the water run through for a minute or two. Then, transfer the kidney beans to a large bowl. Add at least twice the amount of water to the bowl, then cover and allow to sit untouched overnight. Some people place the beans in the fridge, but they should be fine on the counter as well. After soaking, drain and give them a bit of a rinse.
Place the drained beans in a microwave safe container, and add enough water to fully cover the beans. Add any desired seasonings at this point. Cover the container with a lid, and place in the microwave. Start by microwaving the beans on high until the water boils, about 10 minutes. If you are cooking a very small amount of beans, check the beans after 5 minutes. Stir to combine, then cook on medium for another 10-15 minutes. Check the beans, and then cook in 5 minutes intervals until done, if necessary. Stir, then let stand for a few minutes before eating or using in your favourite recipe.