My husband made Fannie Farmer's baked beans yesterday using some dried beans we'd gotten at some point from our CSA, not sure how old they were but could be pretty old. He soaked them first (I'm not sure how long, but it was for a while, although not overnight.) He baked them in the oven with all the recipe ingredients and they were still hard when supposed to be done.
Stubborn person that I am, I threw them in the crockpot last night with some extra water. Still tough this morning. I googled a bit and found that we should have fully cooked the beans first. Well, we didn't and I'm still wondering if I can save these. Another link mentioned beans will never soften in an acidic recipe, so I threw in some baking soda and sure enough, it fizzed right up.
So all day I've had them in the crockpot and occasionally I pour in some hot water and baking soda (which fizzes each time). They are a bit softer, and at this point I'm in it for the long haul, so if they'll every get soft by cooking them, I'll keep at it. But if this is just a lost cause, I'll give up. Any bean experts out there?