beans, beans, they’re good for your … you know how the song goes

Today, we’re talking dried beans — pinto, kidney, garbanzo, the list goes on.  For years, canned beans were are staple in our home.  High in protein and fiber, we used at least a couple of times a week.  When we started building up our food storage, we bought a bunch of dried beans.  I figured it was good to have them just in case, but continued to buy my canned beans.

A friend of mine mentioned that her pressure cooker could cook beans in no time flat.  Pressure cookers scare me a bit, but I decided to give it a whirl.  I gave it a few tries, but my beans were always either mushy or totally undercooked.  I kind of gave up until I read Katie’s tips over at Kitchen Stewardship.  It seemed easy enough, and truly it is.

Dried beans are way cheaper than canned beans.  They also don’t have any extra additives like sodium and corn syrup — yes corn syrup.  That’s the good.  Here’s the not so good.  They take time.  You can’t just throw them on the stove and come back in a couple of minutes and have they all ready to go.  You have to plan ahead.  For example, this morning, I realized we needed to have some kind of slow cooker meal today since we’re going to be running here and there all afternoon.  Chili would be great, but no beans on hand.  I threw some in to soak and they’re cooking right now.  As soon as I finish this up, they’ll be ready to be thrown into the chili pot.  If I was really good, I would have made them over the weekend knowing I would be having chili tonight and just popped them out the freezer, but meal planning is another lesson for another day.  Long story short — as in almost every situation, planning ahead is helpful, but you do have some wiggle room. I digress, back to the beans, here’s what you do.

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Measure out your dried beans and rinse them thoroughly in water.  Every once in a while you find a clump or two of dirt in your beans.  One cup of dried beans will give you about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of cooked beans.

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Put your beans in a large bowl and add water.  I usually do a 2:1 ratio.  Two cups of water for every one cup of beans.  Allow your beans to soak at least 4 hours.

Take them out of the bowl and rinse again.  Move them into a large pot and add twice as much water as beans (same 2:1 ratio).  Your beans will have plumped up so don’t go by your initial measurement.

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Bring the beans to a rolling boil without a lid on the pot.  DO NOT USE SALT to help the water boil faster.  Let boil for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat, cover and allow to simmer anywhere from an hour to two hours.  You can add salt after the first hour.  I usually check after an hour and then every 15 minutes until they are done.

Use them right away or let them cool off and store them in the fridge or freezer for later use.  So easy and no scary pressure cookers.

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