First of all, I LOVE cooking with beans and here’ s why:
- Dry beans are DIRT cheap! Especially when you use them as a protein in place of meat or in addition to meat to stretch it. They’re definitely a cheap form of protein (on a side note to make them a COMPLETE protein just pair with some sort of grain, which most recipes do anyways)
- Dry beans are healthy. As I just mentioned they have protein, but they also have fiber and iron (at least in some types of beans). But wait…it gets better, they’re low in fat! And I find them very filling.
- Yummy…okay so a lot of people think of beans as plain and boring, but you can make so many different ways and there’s a big variety of shapes, colors and sizes in beans.
So…Now to make cooking with them easy. Going with dry beans is going to be your cheapest route, but may not be as convenient as canned beans, so to make your own convenience food, just cook and freeze dry beans. And then the next time your recipe calls for beans, you don’t even have to get out the can opener!
- Pour the beans (I usually do 2, 1 lb. bags at a time) in a colander and rinse off in the sink. While doing this look for small pebbles or freaky looking beans (which by the way I rarely find).
- Put the beans in a pot and cover generously with water.
- This is the easiest step…go to bed, or do whatever, while your beans soak overnight.
- Rinse beans in calender again and return to pot. Cover generously with water and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for a couple hours or until beans are soft. I can’t tell you an exact time as it depends on the beans and how many you’re cooking. Just make sure they’re the softness you like before adding any ingredients as things like salt can make it hard for them to soften. I usually try a few beans, in case they didn’t cook evenly. Also I’ve cooked beans in a crock-pot, it takes longer obviously, but works well.
- Let beans cool, then bag em up and throw them in the freezer. When I first started this I would freeze them with the bean water, but have decided I prefer to freeze them without it, as I usually ended up draining it off before using anyways. If you want you can add salt and seasoning before freezing or do that later depending on how you’re going to use them.
I’ve done cooking and freezing with pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans and great northern beans all successfully.