How-To: Cooking Dried Beans

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Dried Beans, Beans, Cooking Beans Now that I’ve been following a vegetarian diet, I think I’ve probably eaten my weight in beans.  I know…that’s a lot of beans.  But its true – beans and lentils make a daily if not twice daily appearance in my life.  They’re so yummy – creamy, starchy and extremely filling and satisfying.  Can’t ask too much more from a food.  Oh, and how convenient are they?  All you have do is open a can and there you go – ready to eat and mix into any dish.  Like this one, or this one or even this delicious dish!

Naturally I have like 10 cans of beans in my pantry at all times – it might be slightly excessive.  But I need a variety of options!  However, in my tiny little apartment, in my tiny little pantry, those 10 (or more) cans of beans are starting to take up a lot more space than I’m really willing to give them.  Move over beans – I need more room for my anchovy, caper, red pepper and kalamata olive stash!  Ugh…I think I just need a bigger kitchen.
dried beans, cooking dried beans, frozen beans, beans

But instead of asking Dario for a bigger kitchen (though that is coming…) I decided it might be a wise idea to figure out another way to store my large selection of beans.  That’s where this whole dried bean thing comes in.  Dried beans come in huge bags and once you cook ’em up, they can be stored in the freezer forever.  Well, not forever, but up to 6 months.  And knowing me, those little beans won’t be in there anywhere close to 6 months.  In my quest to stock my freezer with beans, I came across three methods to cooking and storing them.  That way you can save on pantry space and a few bucks at the store too.  Here’s what I got:

  •  No matter what method you choose to cook up your dried beans, the first step is to dump them out into a mesh strainer and rinse them off.  While you’re doing this, pick through them to look for any funky ones or little pebbles that may have gotten mixed up in the bunch.  Also, do not add salt until the end of the cooking process, otherwise the beans can get really tough – not good.
  • Overnight Soak – put rinsed beans into a large bowl and fill with twice as much water as you have beans.  If you don’t have a big enough bowl, that’s ok, just make sure there’s a lot more water than beans.  Soak for about 8 hrs or overnight.  Then strain.  At this point you can freeze them or stick them in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them.  Or you can go ahead and cook them in boiling water for about 45 minutes or until they’re tender.  Once fully cooked, you can store them in the fridge or freezer (up to 6 months).
  • Boiling Method – In a large pot bring water to a boil (twice as much water as you have beans).  Add your beans and boil for 60 minutes.  Then shut off the heat, cover the pot and let the beans and hot water soak together for up to 3 hours.  Drain them and then either store or again, cook for about 45 minutes in simmering water.  Check every hour for doneness so you don’t over do it and get mushy beans.
  • Quick Soaking – (similar to the boiling method) – In a large pot, bring water to a boil (twice as much water as you have beans).  Add beans and let boil for about 2-3 hours – checking for doneness – not all the way though – more al dente.  Then allow the beans to sit for about an hour off the heat.  Drain them and then either store or again, cook for about 45 minutes in simmering water.  Again, store either in fridge or freezer.

Now, none of these methods are super quick, but all are totally worth the effort.  I usually choose the overnight method, and the drain them in the am before work and then cook them off while I’m making dinner that night.  I freeze them in 1 cup servings and now always have them on hand!  It’s really a great way to make a TON of beans, without much waste and keeping a little extra cash in your pocket.

You tell me!  What’s your favorite type of bean?  Do you prefer buying the canned beans or buying dried beans?  What’s your favorite bean recipe?

1 Comment

  1. Susanna

    March 21, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    The only dried-bean recipe I’ve ever used is from Budget Bytes’ blog, for not-refried beans. They’re made in the crock pot and SO yummy. But I’ve acquired a stash of various dried beans that I need to do something with. I’d like to try using my pressure cooker.

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