You may be wondering why I would even think of recommending dried beans in your kitchen. Canned beans are oh so convenient and, quite frankly, simple! Not to mention, the nutrition content is basically the same between the two. While nothing is quite as easy as opening a can in the kitchen, cooking dried beans is not too complicated either. Here are a few reasons that make cooking up dried beans in your kitchen worth it.
Reason 1: Taste & Texture
Okay, that may be two reasons in one, but still 😉 When you soak and cook your own dried beans, especially using the salt water soak below, the texture is lovely. The are soft and creamy, yet the skins stay in tact. Also, you can adjust the flavor of the cooking liquid infusing the beans with some extra goodness. I’ve found that adding a bay leaf and a crushed garlic clove to the cooking water (as below) is my favorite way to flavor the finished product. Other options could be onion, fresh herbs, or peppercorns. A little bit goes a long way, so show some restraint with the possibilities.
Reason 2: Cost
Cooking up some dried beans is extremely affordable. You can pay $1.00 for 1 can of beans, or you can by a pound for a little more, but end up with 4 x times the amount of beans. This may not sound like a lot, but when they taste better too, you’ll be using beans more often. You’ll want to build more meals around your delicious beans. This could lead to you cutting down on use of some pricier ingredients like meat and poultry.
Reason 3: Reduced Gas
For some of us, eating beans can increase our gas output. The process of soaking and rinsing the beans removes some of the gas-producing elements. So if gas is an issue for you, you might end up with a bit less gas than with canned beans.
Nutrition & Versatility
Whether you’re using canned beans or cooking up some dried beans, the nutrition content of beans is awesome. They typically have about 7-8 grams of protein per serving. Beans have about the same amount of fiber per serving. They’re also good sources of several micro-nutrients such as potassium, iron, and B vitamins.
Their versatility is unmatched. They work for vegans and vegetarians as well as meat eaters. Beans work in dips, soups, salads, and spreads. They also cross cuisines around the world from the Americas, to Europe and Africa, to Asia. Even for bean skeptics, eventually they should be able to find one way to love beans.
Mistakes I made so you don’t have to!
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re getting ready to try cooking dried beans.
- Cook beans ahead of time. Do not wait until it’s dinner time. If you do, it will be the night they take an hour longer than you thought they would. This is why I like to do a batch and then freeze them in 1 or 2 cup portions. Weekends are great for this type of project. The hands-on time is short, but they do require tending during cooking.
- Make sure your pot is big enough. From start to finish, beans triple in size. Make sure they have room to grow in the pot. If your pot is not big enough, you will probably have the next issue…
- Make sure you have enough water to start (your pot needs to be big enough!). Running out of water during the cooking process is just a mess. Think burnt beans caked onto the pot (yick!).
Below is the recipe I follow at home. Just this past weekend, I made 3 batches (garbanzo, red kidney, and great northern). One in the crock pot and two in pots on the stove. If you have large enough pots, you can certainly do a double-batch too. My freezer is now stocked with beans!
So simple, it just takes time.
You'll need a large pot or slow cooker (at least 4 quarts in size). The soaking can be done right in the cooking vessel you choose to use. A strainer is recommended.
For soaking the beans
- 1 pound dried beans any type, for example, black, great northern, red kidney, great northern, garbanzo, etc.
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 1 cup water hot
- 7 cups water cold
For cooking the beans
- 8 cups water cold
- 1 each bay leaf (optional)
- 1 clove garlic smashed, (optional)
For soaking the beans
Sort beans on a cookie sheet or in batches on a large plate. You're looking for stones, shriveled beans, or anything that just doesn't look right.
Place beans in bowl and rinse with 3-4 changes of water.
Mix the salt in 1 cup of hot water until completely dissolved. This may take a few minutes.
In a large bowl (4 quarts), put the beans, salt water mixture and cold water. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight or approximately 12 hours (and up to 24 hours).
Drain beans into mesh strainer (or a strainer with small enough holes you don't lose many beans). Rinse the beans well with water.
For cooking the beans
Put the beans in a large pot or a slow cooker (at least a 4 quart size vessel is recommended).
Cover with 8 cups of cold water. Add 1 bay leaf and smashed garlic clove to the pot or slow cooker (if using).
If using a pot on a stove, set the pot to high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat so the cooking water just simmers. You can partially cover the pot with a lid. Start checking the beans for done-ness after 45 minutes of simmering. They may take up to 2 hours to be fully cooked.
If using a slow cooker, set it to cook for 6 to 8 hours on low. Start checking the beans for done-ness after 5 hours cooking time.
For freezing the beans
Spread the beans out on cookie sheet and allow to cool at room temperature.
Use a measuring cup to measure 2 cups of beans into a freezer bag. One pound of beans will fit into 3 freezer bags with some left over. Be sure to label the type of bean and date on the freezer bags!
Put the freezer bags into the refrigerator to chill overnight, then move to the freezer the next day.
There are an incredible number of breakfast, lunch, and dinner possibilities when you have beans on hand. Like many of you, I too used to be dried bean skeptic. I didn’t understand what made them worth it over canned beans. But let me tell, they are worth a try! You just might start to love them too 😉 And when cooked from dry, their texture and taste is so delicious!
Welcome to 5 Ingredient Friday! Here you'll find a recipe with 5 ingredients or less (shhh... water, oil, salt, pepper don't count). Recipes don't need a lot of ingredients to be yummy. Fewer ingredients means simpler prep. It also means you'll have them memorized in no time. 5 Ingredient recipes are the backbone of my everyday cooking. I hope you find a place for this recipe in your kitchen.