Fact: People are terrified of dried beans. The concept scares them. The amount of work that it “seems to take” to ready them for eating wards everyone away, sending them running toward the canned goods isle. Dried beans are often more present in young peoples craft projects than in their meals. It makes me incredibly sad.
Fact: Canned beans are overpriced. Yeah, yeah so a can of beans costs like, a buck. A BAG of beans costs two bucks. DO YOU KNOW MANY CANS OF BEANS COME IN A BAG??? DO YOU?? Well, you’re about to find out. After you read this you will no longer be afraid to buy dried beans. You will discover that beans may very well be the most affordable protein option available. Not to mention, one of the most delicious– but of course, you already knew that smartypants.
Cooking Dried Beans 101: The Best Method
1. Buy a bag of dried beans. Heck, buy three! Some of my favorites are favorite are black beans, great northern beans, and garbanzo beans.
2. Measure out 1 cup. You can keep it simple with one variety, or mix a bunch together. Contrary to popular belief– different kinds of beans don’t necessarily require different cooking times.
3. Rinse the beans in a large colander. Transfer them to a large bowl and fill with tap water until beans are completely covered. Place the bowl on a countertop where they wont be disturbed.
4. Now, walk away. For a long time. Ideally 8 hours. Actually the longer you soak your beans for the less time it will take them to cook. If you are following a dried beans recipe you might be able to knock 30 minutes off the cooking time if you soaked them 10 hours. Alternately, if you were only able to do a 5-6 hour soak you may need to add half an hour to your recipe. Get it?
5. Coming back to your beans they will have doubled in size. In fact, they will have doubled and then some. Usually 1 cup dry will equal somewhere around 2 1/2 cups cooked beans. Of course the exact quantity depend on the variety of bean, but I digress. Drain the soaked beans in a colander and rinse them well. The beans release gasses into the soaking water that cannot be consumed without becoming, well, “musical fruit”. Discard the soaking water and rinse it from the beans.
6. Place the rinsed beans in a large pot and cover completely with water. At this point you may add salt and or a bay leaf to create a base. Bring the water to a boil, turn heat to low, and simmer covered for at least one hour.
7. At this point test a bean. Go on, eat one. Is it soft and creamy, or does it still have a bit of crunch? If the beans are cooked. Drain them and enjoy.
Cooking Dried Beans 101: The Cheater Method
1. Okay, so you’re craving beans now and you don’t want to wait a day to enjoy them. Heres an emergency bean cooking method. Proceed with rinsing your beans like normal.
2. Place the un-soaked beans in a large pot and cover with lots of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes covered.
3. Turn off the heat and let them sit covered in the hot water for about an hour.
4. Drain and rinse your beans well.
5. Proceed with steps 6 and 7 above. You may need to allow extra cooking time to make up for your lazy soak.
You may reserve the liquid for a soup base if you like. You can also store the beans in their liquid in the fridge for about a week, or freezer for several months. Speaking of freezing them. Why not make a monster batch of beans and freeze 2 cup containers of them– a cheaper alternative to the instant satisfaction of canned beans.
If you’re making a bean soup or stew you can cut down some of the cooking time if you want and let the par-cooked beans finish in your recipe. A flavorful idea for sure!
So, are you ready to face your fears?