Great Northern bean

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Great Northern beans


Great Northern beans are a North American bean, which is popular in France for making cassoulet (a white bean casserole) and in the whole Mediterranean where many beans of a similar appearance are cultivated. These beans have a delicate flavor, thin skin, and are flat, kidney shaped, medium-sized white beans. Great Northern Beans are high in fiber, a good source of protein and iron, and are fat, sodium, and cholesterol free.


  • Store dry beans in a cool, dry place off the floor. High temperatures cause hardening of the dry beans; high humidity may cause mold.
  • Store cooked great northern beans in a covered non-metallic container and refrigerate. Use within 2 days or freeze.

Uses and Tips


Soaking not only makes the beans cook faster, but by discarding the soaking water, gas-causing compounds may be reduced. Sort beans to remove foreign matter, such as small stones, dark or odd shaped beans. Rinse in a colander under cold water.

Procedures for Soaking Dry Great Northern Beans

There are four ways to soak beans, depending on how far in advance you plan and how much time you have, you can decide which method of soaking will work best for you.

Hot Soak

In a stockpot, bring 10 cups water to a boil. Add 1 pound dried beans and return to a boil. Remove from the heat; cover tightly and set aside at room temperature 2–3 hours. Drain and rinse the beans.

Overnight Method

In a large pot, add 1 pound dry beans to 10 cups cold water. Cover. Let stand in refrigerator overnight. Drain and discard soaking water. Rinse the beans. Replace water and cook immediately after soaking period. Longer periods of soaking are not recommended.

Quick Soak Method

In a large pot, pour dry beans into boiling water and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and allow to set for 1 hour. Drain and discard soaking water and proceed with cooking.

Gas-Free Soak

In a stockpot, place 1 pound of beans in 10 or more cups of boiling water; boil for 2–3 minutes, cover and set aside overnight. The next day approximately 75 to 90 percent of the indigestible sugars will have dissolved into the soaking water. Drain, and then rinse the beans thoroughly before cooking them.


Use approximately 1¾ quarts boiling water for each pound of soaked beans to be cooked. Add herbs or spices (not salt), as desired. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender for about 90 minutes. Boiling beans will break the skins and leave you with a mushy meal. Add more water if the beans are not covered. Add additional boiling water if beans become dry. Drain, if desired.

When the beans are tender, drain and use in recipes; or for later use, immerse them in cold water until cool, then drain well and freeze in 1- to 2-cup packages. One pound of dried beans will yield about 5 or 6 cups cooked beans.

Pressure Cooking

This is one of the quickest ways to cook beans. After you've soaked 1/2 pound of beans, place them in a 4-quart pressure cooker with 4 cups water. Cook at 15 pounds pressure following the manufacturer's directions for the type of legume you are cooking.

Cooking Tips

Do not add salt or acidic ingredients, like vinegar, tomatoes or juice, this will slow the cooking process. Instead, add these ingredients when the beans are just tender.

Cooking times vary with the types of beans used but also may vary with their age.

Beans are done when they can be easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork. Always test a few beans in case they have not cooked evenly

Soaking, cooking, tips, and times provided by California Dry Bean Board.

Great Northern bean Recipes