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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cooking and freezing dried beans

Not too long ago, I shared with you a yummy recipe for black bean burgers that contains 2 cans of drained black beans.

Now, I have to be honest, I almost never buy canned beans. They usually contain added salt and 2 cans of beans cost the same amount as a whole pot of beans cooked the old fashioned way.

Now, beans are cheap either way, but if you're looking to cut your grocery bill (and aren't we all?), you might want to consider soaking, cooking and freezing dried beans for yourself.

It's really easy, but I have had several people tell me they didn't know how to cook beans, and I only recently learned that they freeze well. (The texture isn't quite the same as canned, but it's really close, especially if you don't overcook them and you reheat them slowly.)

Here's what you need:

1 big bowl or pot (it needs to hold at least twice the volume of your dried beans, they're going to swell as they soak)
1 pound of dried beans of choice

Note: It's best not to salt your beans until after they're cooked, it makes for a better texture. Also, I save seasoning for later when I know for sure what recipe I'll be using my beans for.

Here's what you do:
  1. Put your beans in your  bowl or pot
  2. Fill with water 3-4 inches deeper than your beans
  3. Let sit 8 hours or overnight (this is not an exact science, you can go shorter or longer if needed)
"Why am I soaking my beans?" you ask. Well, you see, beans contain phytates, and phytates make for upset tummies and um...smelly problems. By soaking your beans, you're helping break down the phytates. The longer the soak, the fewer phytates you're tummy will have to deal with. Soaking also helps the beans cook faster and more evenly.

Ok, now that your bean are soaked, you're ready to cook them!

     4. Drain and rinse the soaked beans, put them in a pot (Slow cookers are good for this)
     5. Fill with water 2-3 inches deeper than the beans
     6. Cook on low for about 7 hours or until tender

Now, you could have read that on your bean bag (not the kind you toss at carnivals, but the actual bag your beans come in). I just wanted you to see how easy it is. Soak. Drain. Rinse. Cook. If you have a slow cooker, you can soak your beans in it while you sleep, cook them while you're at work, and have dinner ready when you get home. 

Or, you can let them cool during the evening and freeze them for later.

That's what I really wanted to tell you. You can freeze your beans. It's also easy. Just put them in a container and stick 'em in the freezer. I let mine thaw on the counter over the afternoon so they're ready for me at dinner time. You do want to reheat them slowly, so they don't turn all mushy on you.

Sandwich size ziptop bags will hold about the same amount as your standard 16 oz can. Also, you can let the air out and lie them flat to freeze so they will take up almost no space in your freezer.

Now, the hard part is deciding what recipe to use your beans for...

Beans, beans, they're good for your heart...

Sorry for that last line, couldn't resist!

1 comment:

  1. LOVE beans cooked from dry. I think the texture is so much better than canned.