A lot of us might automatically reach for a can of white or black beans when making chili or tacos, but there are so many good reasons to opt for the dry version instead.

Here is why and how to cook legumes from their dry state instead. 

Why make the switch?

1. Legumes are, first of all, much more economical when purchased in their dry form. You’ll get a larger quantity per package (and per dollar), meaning more servings that you can use over time. Dry legumes will also last a significant amount of time in your pantry, making them a long-term staple.

2. There is less waste involved with dried legumes as you’re not using and disposing of a can every couple servings.

3. You have control over the amount of salt in your recipes. Canned beans or chickpeas contain salt in the liquid they’re stored in, but the dried variety does not, and different brands can vary widely. Using dried beans, you can add exactly the quantity of salt of your choosing.

4. Dry legumes have a better texture. If you’re looking to make crispy chickpeas for example, starting with dry chickpeas gives you a head start. The chickpeas are less water-logged than the canned variety and will thus crisp up much more easily.

The one downside to cooking dry legumes (chickpeas and beans that is, not lentils) is that they need to be soaked and then cooked before being used in a recipe. However, this is easy to do and doesn’t require much active time, mostly just waiting time.

How to do it?

First note that not all legumes need to be soaked. While beans and chickpeas do, lentils do not.

1. Check your dry legumes for any debris by putting the legumes in a sieve and running them under cold water.

2. Add the legumes to a large container. Add in 3 times as much cold water as you have legumes as they will plump up and increase in volume as they soak. 

3. Pop the container in the fridge for 6 – 8 hours, or a bit longer. Doing this right before bedtime is generally the easiest.

4. Drain the legumes. Cook them in fresh simmering water for about 1h15 minutes, or until tender.

Depending on the variety of bean/chickpea you are using this can take a bit longer. Taste one at the 1 hour mark and remove from the heat once they are tender and drain.

How long will they keep?

Store your legumes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also pack them up in an airtight container and keep them in your freezer for up to 6 months.