All you really have to have to cook beans and grains is a good size pot with a lid. But here are some gadgets that may make it quicker, easier and more fun to get your beans and grains on the table.
Slow Cooker – without a doubt the single most important piece of equipment that I own for cooking beans, is my slow cooker. I have even cooked a few varieties of grains in my crock pot. I have a small crock pot that I use every week to cook up to a half pound of beans. That is perfect for two people. I also have a larger slow cooker that I use if I have a larger crowd. You can add beans and liquid, set it to cook, and a few hours later, you have perfectly cooked beans! The smaller crock pot is shown first.
Pressure Cooker – a pressure cooker dramatically cuts the time required to cook beans and grains. A stand alone unit like the Cuisinart shown below does take up quite a bit of space, but it allows you to set the time and pressure and just walk away. You don’t have to do a thing. It also has a browning function so you can do a preliminary sautee or browning without dirtying another pot. I love my pressure cooker. You will find you use it for much more than just beans and grains.
Rice Cooker – The great thing about a rice cooker is that it knows when the rice is cooked. You put in the required amount rice and the proper amount of water, the rice cooker cooks the grains until the water is absorbed, then it turns itself to “warm”. You don’t have to have a precise cooking time. The rice will be sitting on the counter, warm and ready to eat, when you are ready to eat it. I purchased several inexpensive rice cookers that broke almost immediately. So I finally purchased the more expensive (and more reliable)Cuisinart.
Immersion Blender – this is a handy tool for pureeing hot beans in the pot. If you have ever transferred hot liquid to an actual blender, you may have found yourself or your kitchen drenched in hot liquid when you hit the “Puree” button. There are times when it is nice to puree part or all of your cooked beans. An immersion blender makes quick work of that. The blending shaft pops off so that it can go in the dishwasher.