Cooking Dried Beans
Many people shy away from having and cooking dried beans. I have found dried beans to be a staple pantry item in our house. They are versatile, cost effective, and "good for you".
When you are buying already canned beans from the store, you are getting a very high amount of sodium in each can, plus there may be added fat to them or other preservative type ingredients. By cooking dried beans, you are able to control what you add to them.
I always have on hand a wide assortment of dried beans. I usually have at any given time: pinto beans, red beans or kidney beans, lima beans, great northern beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans. I actually use whatever I have on hand when I am putting something together, as we are not picky on the certain type.
There are a couple different ways to prepare your beans, but I am going to only talk about pre-soaking overnight and then cooking dried beans. This is not the only method, but it is the one that I end up using most often. YES...it does take some pre-planning or thinking about what you will be having, but if you soak extra and freeze them, you won't have to have as much thought put into it for the next meal or two.
You can soak as many beans as you would like. Here is the first picture of the pinto beans that I started with. Place them in an overly large bowl (to provide extra room for expanding). If you see any beans that are discolored, discard those.
Next, cover your beans with water. They need to have several inches of water above the bean line, as they will expand, soaking up the liquid. I start soaking mine in the evening.
This picture is the beans the next morning, after they have soaked all night. See how the water is still covering all of them. Be sure to have added enough, so they all will still be covered in the morning.
Next, you will want to rinse your beans that have been soaking very thoroughly. This is an important step. It will make your beans less "gassy", so be sure not to miss this step. Rinse them with nice cool water making sure all the old water has been discarded and all the beans have been rinsed.
After my soaked beans were rinsed, I measured out approximately 8 cups to place in the crock-pot. I saved back approximately 2 cups to put in a freezer bag for a later meal. They are ready to be cooked in any meal that uses beans.
I am cooking the 8 cups to be used as beans in tacos and also to use in chili for two of my meal planning this week. I added in 6 cups of water with the 8 cups of soaked beans. I also added in a small amount of diced onion and some seasonings. At this point, you can cook them plain or add in any seasonings of your choosing. If I am going to use them for tacos, burritos, etc., I will use some taco seasonings like garlic, onion, cumin, chili powder, etc.... The amount and kind of seasonings you use is entirely up to you and your family's tastes.
This picture was taken after cooking the beans in the crock-pot on high for 6 hours (the time may vary according to your crock-pot or you could also cook them on low --for several more hours). This is how they looked. They have enough liquid still on them, so none are hard or burned on. They are all very soft.
I used this utensil that I have to smash the beans to give them a smoother texture. Be creative with your kitchen utensils. You could also use a metal potato masher. We prefer them semi-smashed, but not completely, so I just keep using this tool until I have our desired texture. If you do like them smooth, you can let them cool slightly, and then place them in a blender or food processor.
I am using this amount of cooked beans this week for two of our meals. One meal was tacos/burritos with super nachos leftover for lunches. The other meal I used them for was crock-pot chili. I will save the smaller bag, that I froze, for another week when we may have one or the other of these meals again.
I hope this helps you to visualize soaking and cooking dried beans. I also hope that you will give it a try! Let me know how it turns out for you or as always, if you have any questions, let us know.
Until next time, Julie
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