Guest post from Mystie Winckler
Many bean recipes call for canned beans, and often even canned beans are touted as a frugal food. But they certainly are not when compared to home-prepared beans. Plus, with home-cooked beans, you get to control the amount of salt and other factors.
Let’s compare canned and dried black beans:
1 15oz can of beans = about 1 1/2 cups of beans (after draining off the liquid) = about $.53 per cup (buying generic, conventional beans)
1 1-lb bag of beans = 2 1/2 cups of dried beans = 7 1/2 cups cooked beans = $.12 per cup
The savings between dried and canned beans is significant, but the convenience of canned still makes them a very tempting pantry staple. Beans take a long time to prepare and require planning ahead.
But you can easily make a large batch of beans and freeze them in canned-beans amounts to pull out whenever you want to make a recipe requiring beans! You can soak them overnight or get it all done in a day; you can even do it in the crockpot or on the stovetop.
First Step: A Good Soak
You can make whatever size batch you want, but remember that beans usually grow 3 times in volume by the end. So 1 cup of dry beans will equal 3 cups cooked beans. Don’t overfill your bowl or pot!
1. Soaked method: Put the dried beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with 3 times the amount of water. Let sit overnight. Drain.
2. Double-cooked method: Put the dried beans in a large pot and cover with 3 times the amount of water. Do not add any salt. Bring the water to a simmer, then turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 2 hours. Drain.
Second Step: Softening and Seasoning
1: Crockpot method: Add soaked or cooked and drained beans to the crockpot with twice the volume of water. Set on low and cook overnight or 6-8 hours, or until beans are very tender. Salt and taste until you get to the amount of salt you prefer. Do not drain off the excess liquid just yet.
2. Stovetop method: Add soaked or cooked and drained beans to a large stockpot with two to three times the volume of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer until the beans are very tender (30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the bean and its age). Salt and taste until you get to the amount of salt you prefer. Do not drain off the excess liquid just yet.
Final Step: Preserving for Convenience
1. Refrigerate: Pour off any excessive water, but leave enough of the bean “broth” to keep the beans moist. Dump into whatever container or containers you’d like to store it in, top with a lid or plastic wrap, and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Scoop out 1 1/2 cups for each can called for in recipes throughout the week. At the end of the week, you can freeze any remaining beans according to the directions below.
2. Freezing: Using a slotted spoon, scoop 1 1/2-1 3/4 cup beans into a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Fill to the 2 cup line with bean “broth.” Dump into a labeled quart freezer bag, glass jar with lid (2 1/2 cup capacity or more), or plastic freezer container (2 1/2 cup capacity or more). Freeze for up to 3 months. Pull out, thaw, and use as you would a can of beans.
Does your family eat much beans? What is your favorite bean recipe?
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