Sort beans to remove any rocks or sediment and soak overnight in enough cool water to cover the beans plus three inches on top.
For stove top:
Drain beans and add to pan with 6 cups of water and two tablespoons olive oil. Bring to a boil only at the very beginning and then turn down to simmer until bean texture is soft and creamy. Keep an eye on the beans as this may be 2-3 hours, and add more water if necessary so beans remain covered. Make sure to taste multiple beans for doneness. Some may cook faster than others.
Wait to add salt until the beans have begun to soften, usually about halfway through cooking. That way, the salt can pass through the beans’ softened skin and bring out their flavor. Add acidic ingredients such as tomatoes and cider vinegar once the beans have softened; if added too early, acid can thicken the beans’ skin and extend cooking time. Non-acidic seasonings such as herbs, garlic, and onion can go into the pot from the start. Don’t bother skimming off any foam that rises to the top of the cooking liquid. It’s simply water-soluble protein released from the beans and will dissolve on its own.
For pressure cooking:
Add beans, salt, cider vinegar, olive oil and half a jar or one small can of tomato sauce to the pressure cooker and bring to a boil. Close the pressure cooker and bring up to15 psi. Cook for four minutes and turn off. When the pressure gauge drops, carefully open and test a bean. Some beans require more time, but most will be done in four minutes if you have soak them overnight. (Recipe #372)