After soaking the beans in water overnight, drain them and place them in the slow cooker with enough water to cover them plus 1 teaspoon of salt. Add any desired spices or smoked meats to the slow cooker. Cook on low for six to eight hours.
Spices, such as a bay leaf, garlic, minced onion or herbs, and smoked meat, such as ham hocks or bacon, make good additions to the beans. If cooking 1 pound of beans or less, it is best to use a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker or smaller. Use a 5-quart or larger slow cooker if cooking 2 pounds of beans or more. The first time you cook beans in the slow cooker, check the beans every 30 minutes starting at five hours to ensure proper cooking. Store the cooked beans in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze the beans for up to three months.
To cook beans in the slow cooker more quickly, place 1 pound drained beans, one chopped onion, four cloves minced garlic, six sprigs thyme and one bay leaf in the slow cooker. Pour 5 cups of boiling water into the slow cooker, and cook on high for two to three hours. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt once the beans are tender, and cook for an additional 15 minutes.