Dried beans are much cheaper than canned beans, and easier to store, too. (Also, if you drop dried beans on your toe, they won’t dent the floor!)
But what are you supposed to do with them? They’re like little beany pebbles, and a lot of people don’t know how to get them from the bag to the table.
Relax, dealing with dried beans is not as difficult as you think! You will have do some preparation, though. I try to maximize my time, so I’ll prepare 2-4 pounds of dried beans at a time and then freeze the extras.
One pound of dried beans is approximately 12-14 servings of cooked beans, or about 4 cans worth.
First, you’ll need to pick through them. Beans are an agricultural product, and there can be gravel, grit, or even rotten beans in the mix.
I used to just pour it in my hand and give it a good look, or pick through as I rinsed them. Then my parents came to town, I made refried beans, and got a rock! I was glad *I* was the one who almost broke a tooth, and the rest of my family was too polite to mention it if they got a mouthful of gravel.
Now I use a cookie sheet. Miss C, age 3, loves to help me with this! She picks out the little pebbles, declares them “cute”, and keeps them all day in her pocket.
Just pour the beans on one side of the sheet, then push them over to the other side with your finger. Remove any beans that are very shriveled, dark, and any rocks or detritus.
Next, you’ll have to rinse them off to remove any dust from processing.
Finally, you’ll have to soak them. You can use the traditional method, and cover them with water (adding whey if you desire) and leave them overnight. You can also use the Quick Soak Method, and put them in a pot full of water, bring to a boil for at least a minute, and then let them soak for an hour, covered. If you forget about them and boil for five minutes, that won’t hurt anything either.
The key is to use plenty of water during soaking. The dried beans will absorb water, start to become tender, and prepare for cooking. (Kidney beans must be boiled for a minimum of 5 minutes, either during the soaking stage or the cooking stage to kill naturally occurring toxins.)
After soaking, the water will probably take on the color of whatever bean you are cooking. That’s okay. Sometimes bean skins will separate, which is fine, but I remove any beans that float. (And if you forget they are soaking and leave them for more than an hour, that’s all right too!)
Drain them and you’re ready to cook (or keep them for another day.)
After soaking, particularly if you use the overnight method, you will still need to cook the beans in new water according to your recipe.
Don’t add salt or acidic ingredients to the soaking water or beans until they are tender.
How much can you save? 1# of dried beans = 4 cans of beans (15 oz.) I pay around $1 per pound of dried. Cans cost .50-.65 each if you buy generic. You’ll save $1 -$1.60 per week if you replace 4 cans of beans with dried – or, you can buy at least twice as many dried.
Do that for a year, and save $50-80 off your grocery bill, as well as eliminating added sodium and keeping a bunch of trash out of the landfill. Cheaper, healthier, and more eco-friendly!
Need more ideas? Try Kitchen Stewardship’s The Everything Beans Book which will give you all the info you need to know to incorporate beans and legumes into a Real Food diet, including 30 different recipes.
Linking up: WFMW Greatest Tips Edition!
Post originally published on June 16, 2009. I am an affiliate for Kitchen Stewardship’s eBooks.