So, you have acquired some dried beans. These may be garbanzo, pinto, red, kidney, white, lima or any other variety. The method to prepare them so you can use them is basically the same.
1. Put the beans into a large mixing bowl. Gently fill the bowl with water, running under the tap, and let the bowl slowly overflow. As the water runs off, the chaff, leaves and dirt will wash off. (If you have purchased beans from the store, they won't be very dirty, just perhaps slightly dusty). Stir the beans and water gently with your hand, to help this along. When the water runs clear (it takes a few minutes), pour the beans into a collander, pick out any stray debris, and rinse thoroughly.
2. Now you are ready to cook the beans. Put your beans into your crockpot. Then add a 3:1 water to bean ratio. Turn the crockpot on "high" for 2 hours, then to "low" for the rest of the day or over night.
Or, if you prefer to use a stockpot, use the same 3:1 water to bean ratio. Bring the water to boil, then turn down the heat, and simmer for 1.25 to 1.75 hours.
Test the beans. They should be plump and very soft. You be the judge, after biting into one, do they have the right texture? Keep cooking them until they are nice and soft.
3. Drain the beans in a colander. Rinse completely. Now your beans are ready to prepare as your recipe directs.
4. A good way to save the cooked beans is: divide them into 12 oz. batches (1-1/2 Cups). Put them into ziploc bags and pop them into the freezer for future use. Then they're ready to go for salads, hummus, refried beans, soups and the like.
EAT MORE BEANS!