There is a magic word here, well, 2 magic words: CROCK POT. Use this magic, my friends, use it well.
1. Sift through the beans to determine there are no stones. (This was one of those things that scared me. It's easy. It takes maybe 1 minute.)
2. Put them in the crock pot. This will soften and just start to cook your beans. If you just soak them as is the traditional method, you will them have to cook them still for many hours (unless you have a pressure cooker). With the crock pot method, you'll be able to throw them in a pot to make soup in the same way (and for the same amount of time) you'd be able to throw in a can of beans. I like that. I like that a lot. By the way, this method is taken from Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. Have a look at the link becasue she has lots of good things to say about beans and lots of good ways to prepare them.
3. Cover them with water so that the water is 2 inches (2 finger joints) above the dried beans.
4. Cover crock pot and cook beans on high for 6 hours. (Six hours gave me a very tender Northern white bean--some of them cracking open a bit--perfect for my pureed bean soup. But if you wanted your beans firmer, you might want to check at 4 or 5 hours.)
5. Drain beans (this will remove a lot of the indigestible carbs that causes people to have gas--you can give them an additional rinse if you want to remove more of the indigestible carbs that might cause additional gas. I know I did.)
6. Use the beans like you would canned beans. A can of beans is usually about 14-15 oz. which translates to 1 2/3 C cooked beans (about 2/3 C dry beans). Go here for some handy conversions.
7. Freeze what you don't use in Ziploc bags.
One crock pot bean warning: Red Kidney Beans contain a toxin that needs to be cooked out at a higher temp. Soak them and then boil them for 10 minutes, and then cook them in the slow cooker. I know that's a pain; sorry.
Posted by The Tasty Cheapskate