I don’t really do the whole ‘New Years resolution’ thing but somewhere during 2014 I decided that before 2014 was over, I would perfect the art of making beans from dry beans. I had made beans from dry beans plenty of times in the past but they were always just… eh. Nothing fabulous and definitely not as tasty as canned. Healthier and cheaper, yes, but if you don’t love it you won’t make it very often. I read a lot of different methods out there and finally put 2 together to make my new way to make beans. “The Kitchn” blog was actually the source for both of these.
I soak my beans for at least 12 hours but if I can I will soak them longer. No matter the length, I am sure to add a few tablespoons of salt to the soaking. The salt helps to break the tough skin of the bean and helps them to cook evenly. When I finally get around to making them, I rinse the beans and cook them in the crock pot on low for 6-7 hours. Depending on what I am doing with the beans and what type they are I will also add seasoning to the crock pot. Recently I made pinto beans for a southern meal and cooked them with onion, garlic, bacon and a little Vogue Cuisine Instant VegeBase (a type of vegetable bullion). They were AMAZING!! So creamy and rich. I even caught my husband putting them on toast for a snack! Now I know the timing can be difficult here as to when to actually cook them. I find that I can cook them in the crock pot overnight and then reheat them on the stove when I am ready to use them. I think sitting in the fridge for a day might even make them taste better. It certainly doesn’t hurt and cooking the night before eliminates worrying if the beans will be done in time for dinner. My crock pot has a timer that you can set and it goes to warm after cooking. I put the crock pot on low when I go to bed for 6 or 7 hours then it automatically goes to warm for the additional 2-3 hours that I will still be snoozing and it has worked out wonderfully. Things to keep in mind:
– All crock pots are different. One of mine allows a little steam out through a small hole (meant for probing meat to check temp.) I always make sure I add a little more water when using this crock pot. Waking up to burnt beans would be a horrible way to start the day.
– Be sure there is nothing crowding or near the crock pot while it is on. I am just always extra cautious about this!
Why should you be making beans from dry instead of using cans?
Canned beans are fine if you are willing to pay for organic with PBA free cans. Canned beans will usually have higher sodium and sometimes added ingredients you don’t want. Plus cans (unless specified) have BPA which is linked to raised blood pressure, cancer and other ailments. Also, dry beans are MUCH cheaper and look so pretty in mason jars in the pantry. 🙂
Why are beans good for me?
Beans are excellent sources of soluble fiber which lowers cholesterol. They are also excellent sources of potassium, magnesium and folate all of which keep your heart super healthy. In addition to this, beans provide a great source of vitamin B1 and iron along with other excellent nutrients.
If you are worried about gas problems from beans, do some research on how to reduce this. I think brining helps to break down the oligosaccharides which are the culprit of the “beans=gas” problem as our bodies have a little trouble breaking this down on their own (some people more than others). However, I’ve heard that vinegar in the soaking water can help and if you boil them for a few minutes on the stove first and scoop off the foam- that helps too! So don’t let gas be an excuse. You’re body can get better at digesting them over time and you can do a lot to help.
Now that I have accomplished this goal I have decided that in 2015 I will master either homemade yogurt or mayonnaise… or both! A girl’s gotta have ambitions in life… 😀