The pinto bean is the most popular bean in the United States and the northern regions of Mexico. This little speckled legume is full of amino acids, making it a great meatless source of protein. It is often used for the ever popular refried beans or chili con carne. The unassuming pinto bean is quite easy to cook but does take time; therefore it is ideal for crockpot cooking.
Due to the slow cooking of a crockpot, it is possible to throw the beans in and cover with water and cook without soaking the beans but it is still better and less gas producing to soak the beans overnight prior to cooking them even with a crockpot.
Start by rinsing the beans with cool water and cull any shriveled are ugly ones. Place the rinsed beans in a bowl and cover with water. Some people like adding salt in this soaking process or soaking the beans in brine water.
The next day or at least 8 hours later, drain the water from the beans and transfer them to the crockpot. Add salt to your liking. This is the time to add any seasonings by placing them on top of the beans.
Poor enough water over the beans to cover them with an extra two inches to spare as they will soak up water and swell as they cook and you don’t want them sticking to crockpot. Also if your end use is a soup, you may want to add a considerable more amount of water depending on how thin you want the final broth.
Set your crockpot on low for 6 to 8 hours. Beans generally, depending on the amount, cook in 6 hours so at the 5 hour point, start checking the beans, especially if you have never used your crockpot to cook them before. Some crockpots cook faster than others or the lids don’t fit the same causing more evaporation. This is important because you don’t want the beans running out of water, sticking or burning in your crockpot.
Salt can be added when the beans are softer but not completely cooked. This is the point the bean is taking in water and will absorb the salt easier. The larger the batch you cook, the longer it will take so 2 pounds of beans will cook in 8 hours versus 1 ½ pounds at 6-7 hours.
When the beans are finished, you can drain them and make refried beans or store them in their broth in the refrigerator up to one week. Cooked beans freeze very well and can last up to three months in the freezer.