Monday, March 21, 2011

Cooking With Dried Beans

I tried to switch to a mostly vegetarian diet a year ago, but once I got pregnant the meat cravings won. I started using beans in my recipes as meat replacements, and still enjoy using them now. Beans are a lot cheaper than meat, and using dried beans can save even more money.

There are a few ways to prepare dried beans. You could just cook them in the dish you're making (which can be time consuming) or prepare them in advance. There are also a couple ways to cook them in advance, you could do an overnight soak then cook all day in a crockpot or do a rapid soak and simmer them on the stove. I usually choose the crock pot route, but my big one broke and the small one doesn't hold enough. So I will show you the stove top method today.

Start by rinsing your beans. I like to mix red and black beans. They add a hearty flavor in chili, rice dishes, and soups. This will make a lot of beans (they get bigger as they cook), but that's the point. I like the cook once, use many times method. I can have these ready to go so they are as convenient as canned but less expensive.

Add them to a pot of cold water (pick out any skins or bad looking beans)

Bring to a rolling boil and let them boil for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, cover and let it sit for at least an hour.

Drain the beans. You can see how they have grown in size! The red beans tend to look a bit dingy when cooked with black beans, but they still taste good.

Add the beans to a pot of hot water. I like to put a generous spoonful of garlic at this point.

Bring to a boil. Cover partly with the lid, reduce heat and let it simmer for 2 1/2 hours. This is a good thing to do on a cleaning day since you don't really have to babysit it. Just set a timer for each step and move onto other jobs.

Drain the beans and set up your workstation. I labeled quart-sized freezer bags and got a measuring cup out.

I scoop out about 2 cups per bag. I use one bag per meal.

I roll them to get the air out.

Then lay flat to store.

I wound up with 6 bags (12 cups) of beans. This will make at least 6 meals (more if I reuse leftovers). The beans were a little over $2, so this was a little over 30 cents per meal and just as easy as using a can. When I used them, I can either pull them out of the freezer and let them defrost in the fridge or just add them directly to what I'm making.

Using dried beans has just become a regular routine for me. When I start to get low, I make another batch. I like having them on hand to make quick meals. 

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I am stopping by to wish you a happy Monday and make new friends.



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