Monday, September 28, 2009
Using Dried Beans
Beans...there is so much to love about them! They are healthy. They are cheap. And they make all sorts of dishes yummy.
About two years ago, I started to buy dry beans in bulk instead of buying them in cans at the store. I did this partly because I knew it would be a little bit cheaper and partly because I also liked knowing that my beans weren't loaded with salt and other additives. After experimenting with various methods (there's a bunch!) I have discovered that the one I like the best is called the Hot Soak Method. Here are the steps to this simple way of soaking and cooking dried beans.
First of all, sort your beans. Pick out any pieces of dirt, rocks or beans that have holes or are very wrinkled.
Next rinse your beans to remove any dust/dirt. Do not do this until you are ready to soak the beans as the water will start to begin the hydration process.
Now you are ready to soak the beans. Put your beans in a big pan and add 10 cups of water for every 2 cups of dry beans. Bring the beans to a boil and allow to boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for at least one hour but preferably four hours. (The longer you allow the beans to soak, the more the sugars break down which makes the beans more easily digestible.) Then discard the water and rinse the beans.
You are now ready to cook the beans. Return beans to pan, add fresh cold water to fully cover the beans, 1-2 teaspoons oil or shortening and 2 teaspoons salt, if desired. To avoid breaking the skins, tilt the lid to your pan and simmer the beans gently. Cook until tender.
I prefer to use my pressure cooker to cook the beans. It gets it done in less than half the time it takes to simply cook the beans. Since each pressure cooker is different, follow the instructions that came with yours to find out how to use it to cook beans.
Your beans are now ready to eat or to freeze. I like to do about 3 cups of dried beans at a time and then I freeze them in 2 cup portions.
If you are wondering at the savings of cooking your own beans here is what I have found. One can of kidney beans is $0.59 at Aldi (usually a bit more than that at other grocery stores). I can get dried kidney beans for $1.16/lb. at Walmart. Two cups of beans is 3/4 pound which makes approximately the equivalent to 3 cans of beans. So your cost comes out to $0.15 a can. Add about $0.10 (probably generous!) for electricity, water, oil and salt and it comes to $0.25 a can. That's a savings of at least $0.34!
A few other facts about beans:
* 1 pound of beans is a little more than 2 cups dry beans
* 1 cup of dried beans equals 3 cups of cooked beans
* 1 small can of beans is nearly 2 cups of beans