Finally got round to advice:
Soak them WELL - at least 6 hours to overnight. If you're time limited, put them in cold water; bring them gently to a boil and then with saucepan off the heat, allow them to remain in the water for 1 to 2 hours only. Always chuck away the water they were soaked in.
Do not under any circumstance add any salt to them before or during cooking. This makes them tough. Add your salt just before serving, to taste (this is a good idea anyway if cutting down on salt). Likewise don't add vinegar, or anything acidic (e.g. tomato) prior to cooking for similar reasons.
Like most things, a bit of seasoning makes all the difference. Don't cut salt out altogether - just reduce it (you still need some salt in your diet).
If you have any - and I appreciate most people don't, cook your beans with a strip of konbu seaweed. It seems to cut down the cooking time and make them softer, and also adds a nice savoury taste to them (I use dried konbu. The first time I use it to make stock. Then I save it and freeze it to add to beans when I cook them).
If you have a slow cooker of crockpot, beans are much better because you cook them long and slow all day.
I will second the thing about kidney beans - if you've not soaked them well enough you have problems, and a well rinsed tin of organic ones (to reduce salt content) works well.
If you're really organised, cook a big batch of beans at once, and freeze them in batches for adding to other dishes later. Saves your having to soak them regularly.
Hope this help
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