Cooking up a hill of beans

I cooked 8 pounds of dried beans the other day.  That’s a lot of beans!

thiscrunchylife_beans

As a busy mom who wants to feed her family whole, unprocessed food as much as possible, cooking beans from scratch has never been high on my list of priorities.  That being said, it does save money.  Canned beans are cheap, but dried ones are cheaper.  Also, beans cooked at home avoid the ickiness of canned beans, namely BPA lids, added salt, and unknown cooking methods.

Although I’ve been cooking beans at home on and off for a few years, it was after reading Nourishing Traditions that I began to cook beans in earnest to enjoy not only the money savings, but also to insure the methods used to cook the beans.  I believe that beans cooked this way are easier to digest and give up more of their nutrition than conventional canned beans.  If you have extra time or freezer space, give it a try and see if it makes a difference for your family.

Here’s how:

  1. Soak beans for up to 24 hours in large pot with 2-4 tablespoons whey per pound and enough water to cover by a few inches.  No whey? You can get whey by straining yogurt, or you can choose to soak beans in water only.
  2. Drain and rinse beans, then return to pot with enough water to cover.
  3. Bring to boil.
  4. When pot begins to boil, skim off and discard foam.
  5. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered for up to 3-4 hours.
  6. Drain beans, then use within a few days or freeze for later.

Tips

  • If you are going to be watching the stove, try making 2-3 different kinds of beans in different pots.  I usually make chickpeas and another type of bean, like black, kidney, or pinto. By cooking this way, I only cook beans about 4 times a year.  
  • Make sure you leave plenty of room in the pot for the beans to bubble up with they boil.  2-3 pounds are all that can comfortably fit in a 16 quart stockpot.
  • Consider freezing the beans in 3 cup amounts.  This is roughly equivalent to 2 cans of beans.  Use it to make recipes calling for 2 cans, or just double recipes calling for 1 can.
  • Forget to thaw beans you need for dinner in a few hours?  Place your freezer bags or other containers into a bowl of hot or warm water.  The beans will thaw in a jiffy.
  • Beans are pretty forgiving, if you cook them too long, they’ll be a little softer.  I haven’t screwed them up too bad yet.
  • If you like refried beans, try this vegetarian recipe that requires no refrying and is priced out at 19 cents per cup.  You can make it in a slow cooker as described, or modify with my instructions above to make it on the stove.

Do you cook your beans at home?  Why or why not?

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