Cooking dry beans at home in a slow-cooker is much more economical than buying canned beans. Plus–you can infuse the beans with different herbs and spices that will make your bean dishes taste even better.
I prefer using my slow-cooker because I find the beans turn out more uniformly cooked and I don’t have to babysit a simmering pot all day.
Slow-Cooker White Beans
1 lb. dry white beans (navy or Great Northern)
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, smashed or roughly chopped
2 tsp. salt
Pick over the dried beans to remove any that are shriveled, dark, or broken, or any rocks. Rinse the beans well and drain in a mesh colander. Put the beans into a slow cooker (at least 5 quart) and cover with cold water. Add the bay leaf and garlic cloves. Place lid on top and turn slow cooker on to low heat for about 8 hours or high heat for about 4 hours. Check after 6 hours for low or 3 hours for high to test for doneness. Spoon out some of the beans and blow on them. If they are cooked the skins will roll back. Taste a few to see if they are softened sufficiently. You don’t want them to be too hard or too soft. They should be al dente. Add the salt and turn the slow cooker off. Let the beans sit to absorb the salt and finish cooking. (They will cook a little more in the residual heat. Under cooking here is much better than over cooking.)
Use as desired, or freeze/refrigerate the beans until ready to use. The bay leaf and garlic cloves can be left in or removed. Large, plastic resealable bags work very well because they can be frozen on a flat surface and stacked, and are also easier to defrost.
Suggested uses: addition to soups and stews, topping for salad, or pureed as a dip, casseroles, etc.