For such a humble ingredient, beans can be kind of polarizing. There are Soakers and there are Non-Soakers. [Full disclosure: I am a Soaker, always will be.] There are people who swear by the speed of their pressure cookers (and tell tales of near explosions) and others who stick with the safe, gentle bubbling of slow cookers. Some prefer the stove, others keep them in the oven, and then there are those who believe canned beans are just fine.
Beyond saying that the mushiness and dullness of canned beans don't come close to the texture and flavor you get from cooking dried beans, I'm not here to convert anyone.
The point is, the best beans are flavorful, evenly cooked and tender, but not mushy or falling apart. This slideshow will demonstrate how—in the most secular way possible—to achieve this.
About the author: Kumiko writes the blog Recipe Interrupted. She believes that having a few cooking techniques under your belt can help make home cooking creative and easy, and is excited to share these basics here on her regular column Technique of the Week. A graduate of Brown University, the Institute of Culinary Education, and a mother of two hungry girls, Kumiko is always trying to keep her Brooklyn kitchen smelling of something good.