Nina’s Tips and Techniques: Beans & Legumes

Whenever I cook beans they taste sandy. What am I doing wrong?

If your beans or legumes are sandy when they are done they are probably slightly under-cooked. The challenging part of cooking beans and legumes is that even if a recipe calls for a certain cooking time, beans and legumes from different sources may cook at slightly different times. It is always best to use TASTE as your gauge on done-ness. If the recipe says cook for 60 minutes and the beans taste sandy, try letting them cook 10 more minutes and taste again. They should taste smooth, but firm when they are done. Also, often times beans and legumes improve in taste and texture if they sit in the cooking liquid overnight. Whenever I make soup with beans or legumes or just plain beans to serve as sides I usually try to make them ahead so they can cool, store overnight, and then reheat. ALSO – I love my instant pot!! I have found that cooking beans and legumes under pressure results in very smooth, consistent product. It does take some trial and error with each different commodity, but once you’ve figured out the time and pressure level it’s 100% awesome every time!

How long can I keep dried beans and legumes in my pantry (do they go bad)?

Like any dry commodity beans and legumes can go bad. Keep them in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. I try to keep on-hand what I think I will use in 6 months. You can tell if your dried beans or legumes have gone bad because they will smell rancid when you open the container – I am a freak who smells everything before I use it! They may also be slightly shriveled, which can indicate that they are old. I don’t actually throw away old beans – I keep them and use them as weights for when I bake pie crusts! But if you’re not into making pie then you can compost them or scatter them in the woods for the chipmunks.


Beans and legumes are amazing nutrient-dense superfoods. If you’re trying to incorporate more of them into your diet try blending cooked chickpeas, white beans, or other beans or legumes until smooth and then adding a cup or so to a soup or stew. I also use pureed legumes as an accompaniment to cooked meat instead of mashed potatoes!

Recipe: Tomato-Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard and Saffron Yogurt