I got the IP Max about a year ago, and it has been a bit of a learning curve over the other versions, simply because it cooks at higher pressure, and therefore everything cooks faster. I can cook brown rice in 13 minutes, vs. 26 minutes in my Instant Pot Duo. That’s a big difference! I’ve been a DUO user for a whole 5 years and I’ve learned a thing or two about the variables and why different recipes quote such different times.
So how do I cook bulk dry beans?
First, I always soak my beans. You can technically cook beans from dry, but it doesn’t get you the same results and the cook times are longer. Soaking is important, not only to soften the beans and shorten the cook time, but also to improve nutrient availability and digestibility. Don’t skip this step for the healthiest beans. Now, because soaking is a 12-48 hour process, planning ahead is essential. Maybe you want to pick a day of the week to soak beans or just plan 1-2 days in advance. I tend to soak mine for longer, usually leaning towards 48 hours, but I don’t count hours. This means, I can start them soaking in the morning or at night and use them the following day or the day after with some flexibility. If anyone in your family has trouble digesting beans, be sure to soak them for the full 48 hours.
To Soak beans, I do 2 cups of dry beans at a time.
Pinto, Black beans, Red Chili beans, Navy beans, Cannellini, Chickpeas or pretty much any other type of dry beans all work about the same. Lentils are not included because they are much more delicate and have quicker cooking times. I’ll do a separate post on lentils sometime.
I use a 2 QT Mason jar (half gallon/2 liter jar) with a leakproof lid and just fill it 1/4th with beans, top up with water and close it. Now, this next part is the important part!! Tip the jar on it’s side. If you don’t tip it for the first hour or so, the beans will swell and compact in the bottom of the jar, becoming very difficult to remove. You can tip it back upright after the first hour or more and they will continue to swell, but won’t get stuck. Do not add more than 2 cups of dry beans to a 2 liter/quart jar or more than 1 cups to a 1 liter/quart jar. It’s fine to use any container you have, just use at least 3 cups water per cup of beans.
The maximum amount of beans I would cook at one time in a 6 Quart Instant Pot is 4 cups dry beans or 2 lbs.
To cook the soaked beans, I pour the soaked beans through a sieve/strainer, rinse them and put them right into the instant pot inner pot. I cover them with water to about 1 and 1/2 inches above the level of the beans. I add about 1 TBSP salt to a 2 cup dry beans batch. The salt helps soften the beans and brings out the flavor, but it is optional if you are trying to avoid added salt. Now, the cooking time technically varies for beans – but it turns out, you don’t really have to memorize all the different times, because you can rely on the extra time it takes for the pot to come down from pressure naturally as part of the cooking time, and err on the side of more time than needed, without overcooking them. Some beans might be done sooner, but this way accounts for everything from softer navy beans to hard red kidney beans. These times are the same regardless of quantity of beans.
INSTANT POT MAX
Soaked Beans: 10 minutes, MAX Pressure, Natural pressure release – almost any bean will be fully cooked and not mushy with this time.
INSTANT POT DUO (Any modal)
Soaked Beans: 20 minutes, High Pressure, Natural pressure release – almost any bean will be fully cooked and not mushy with this time.
In the Instant Pot Max on the high setting, beans and grains seem to cook about 2 times faster than in the Instant Pot Duo modals. Though some foods may cook even faster, it’s safe to take your Duo time and cut it in half. I usually rely on natural pressure release, but when I am in a hurry, I will let at least 10 minutes of natural release happen before I hit the release button for most things, and only release instantly on foods like whole potatoes or eggs.
I use a wide mouth funnel to transfer cooked beans to 1 liter canning jars. Each cup of dry beans will usually equal a mostly or completely full 1 liter/quart jar. I often use half of the beans for dinner and save the other half for another meal. I find that beans keep for about 1 week in the fridge if you put them directly in a jar, cover it and refrigerate it right away. Be sure to mark it with a date.