In the days when most people did not have an oven in their home, beans typically were cooked in an earthenware crock in the ashes of a fire or in the village baker's oven as it cooled from the day's baking. Today's modern crockpot or slow cooker replicates this gentle, even heat, and is just as suited to bean cookery as its predecessors.
Presoak the beans overnight in cold water or for one hour in hot water before cooking. This step is optional but will cut the cooking time by roughly half.
Drain the beans well if they have been soaked and place them in the crockpot.
Fill the pot to the two-thirds mark with beans if they have been soaked or halfway if they have not.
Add a piece of salt pork or bacon if desired and any other flavoring ingredients.
Fill the crockpot with water to within 1 inch of the top.
Cover the crock and cook on high until the beans are tender, approximately three to four hours for soaked beans or six to eight for dry, depending on their age.
Season the beans lightly with salt and pepper when they are tender and allow them to simmer for another 30 minutes. Serve hot or use them in your favorite recipe.
- "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen"; Harold S. McGee; 2004
- Allrecipes: Slow Cooker Spicy Black-Eyed Peas
- North Carolina Farm Bureau Magazine: Crock Pot Black-Eyed Peas
- Salt can toughen beans if added at the beginning of cooking, but salt in the soaking water will improve the beans' flavor without causing toughness.
- The older the beans, the longer they will take to cook. Be patient.
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