How to soak dried beans
I know, this seems like a pointless post. But it is not at all!
Beans are tricky beings. When you add water and rehydrate them, the beans slowly absorb the water. Bacteria naturally occurring in the beans also start breeding, and that bacteria can cause upset stomachs and unpleasant after effects not suitable for most dinners. So what to do?
Step 1. Soak the beans
Soaking the beans is easy. Use at least twice the volume as the beans in water to soak them, and soak them in a cool place like a refrigerator. I usually use between three and four times the volume. Do not add ANY salt, acids, or sugars to the beans, as they can cause the beans to not hydrate properly in one case, and in the other cause a bacteria explosion. Instead use plan water!
Step 2. Rinse the beans
You may see bubbles on the top of the water the beans are soaking in. The bubbles are the proteins of the beans that have trapped air being released by the bacteria. Rinsing the beans removes a great majority of the bacteria present in the beans and will usually suffice to prevent upset digestive systems.
Step 3. Cook 20 minutes
Cook at boiling (but not rolling boil) for at least 20 minutes with your food. They will open up quite nicely at this point and be very flavorful. If you are preparing a cold dish, precook the beans and add to the food.
In a Hurry?
If you are in a hurry, soak the beans in a pot of boiling water (but not a rolling boil) for about 30-60 minutes. Note that more of the nutrients will leach out of them when you wash them, so I do not recommend this! If you are preparing a cold dish, you will lose some nutrients anyways, so just skip step 1 and cook the beans, then drain them.