I know many of you Budget Byters already cook your own beans but I wanted to make this post for all of the newbies out there. Beans are one of the most economical and nutritious foods available so I try to use them in recipes as often as possible. Canned beans are quick and convenient but with a little planning ahead, dry beans can be just as easy and HALF the cost of canned.
Many people (including myself) shy away from cooking dry beans because it seems like such a daunting chore with the overnight soaking and hours of cooking. What I’ve discovered is that cooking beans can be as easy as “setting it and forgetting it” and, thanks to Kalyn’s recent post, I now know that presoaking is not even necessary! If you cook a large batch, the beans can be divided up into two cup containers, frozen and then pulled out of the freezer as needed. Taking frozen beans out of the freezer is just as convenient as opening up a can!
Last night, I cooked up a batch of black beans for today’s soup. The final cost for one can equivalent of dry beans was $0.40 cents. Compare that to a store bought can which usually runs me about $0.79 and I’ve cut the cost in half. Plus, I’ve eliminated salt, preservatives and a lot of wasted packaging. Have I convinced you yet?
*NOTE* This method is not advised for kidney beans or beans in the kidney bean family (like white kidney beans or cannellini) because they contain a naturally occurring substance called Phytohaemagglutnin, which can be toxic to humans and cause severe GI distress. The beans must be cooked in a full boil for at least ten minutes to break down this substance, and most slow cookers do not achieve this level of heat.
How to Kick the Can (of beans)
Here is how it’s done:
STEP 1: Pour one pound (or two for an extra large batch) of beans out onto a baking sheet and sort through to remove any stones or debris. Transfer the beans to a colander to rinse off any dust.
STEP 2: Place the cleaned and sorted beans in a slow cooker and add 6 cups of water for every pound of beans. Put the lid on, set the cooker to HIGH and let her go. Beans that have not been presoaked will take 4-6 hours to cook on HIGH.
STEP 3: Once the beans are tender, pour them into a colander and give them a quick rinse. Divide the beans into containers (re-sealable or zip top freezer bags), label, date and freeze until ready to use! Easy as that.
One pound of dry beans will yield about 6 cups of cooked beans, equal to about 3 cans.
The hands-on time to make these beans was only about 15 minutes. Once they were cleaned and sorted, they go straight into the pot and then I didn’t have to do ANYTHING until I checked them four hours later. Then it’s just a quick drain, rinse and pack into containers.
You can cook beans on the stove top if you don’t have a slow cooker although it takes more attention and care. Just place them in a large pot with a lid (same water/bean ratio), bring it up to a boil then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer until tender. Do not let the beans boil heavily or else the delicate skins will disintegrate and you’ll be left with nothing but bean fragments.
If you have any tips, tricks or notable experiences cooking dry beans, share them in the comments section below!
…the black bean soup recipe should be posted later tonight ;)