Pantry Rules: Dried Beans

Heres what good about dried beans: they are super cheap, they are easy to store, and they overall just taste better. The downside is that they take some planning and some time to cook. But overall, worth the time and wait.

The Dried Bean Primer

You Can Buy Most Beans Dried. Black beans, white beans, kidney beans, chickpeas. They are all available in dried form. And take note: lentils and split peas are not beans, they are legumes, and can be cooked the day of, no prep required.

Easy to Store, Cheap to Buy. A 16-ounce bag of beans costs about a dollar, that is a bargain! They also last a while in your pantry so it is always a good idea to have a few bags on hand.

Get Prepared

Soak Those Beans. Beans need to be soaked for a few hours before you even think about cooking them, which means you need to plan ahead. If you want to make a bean soup on Wednesday, start soaking on Tuesday. There are two methods: the long soak and the quick soak. The long soak simply requires a bowl and some water. Place beans in the bowl, fill with water, about two inches above the beans, and let sit on your counter overnight. Simple. The quick soak requires a pot. Bring a large soup pot full of water to a boil, add the beans, turn off the heat and cover for 30 minutes. Then drain.

Now you’re ready to cook your beans.

Cook Away! But first, drain the beans and give them a good rinse in a colander. The soaking and rinsing helps rinse away the sugars that can cause gassiness. Once that is done, fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the beans, making sure they are well covered, bring up to a boil and then down to a strong simmer. Keep them uncovered. Do not add salt since cooking beans with salt can cause the skins to be tough. Some people do like adding a piece of kombu, which is a Japanese seaweed. Kombu can also help rid the beans of some of those gas causing sugars.

While you are cooking, take some time to skim the foam that might rise to the surface. More sugars that can cause gassiness.

The takeaway – do not add anything to the beans just yet (except kombu), until they have finished cooking. Give them a taste after an hour for doneness, Beans should be firm but very easy to bite into, like a bean.

Season The Liquid. At this point you can either drain the beans to be used at a later date (give them a rinse under cold water to slow down the cooking process) for a number of beans dishes or you can use this liquid they are cooking in as the base for a soup or stew. In that case, now is the time to add some salt, fresh herbs and spices.

What’s The Use? Cooked beans can be used in a variety of dishes, such as chilis, soups, stews, sides, salads, dips or even desserts. They can also be frozen at this point to be used at a later date. Important note: 2 cups of dried beans makes approximately 6 cups of cooked beans. For only a dollar! Now that is a bargain.

You did it, you cooked dried beans and now know that they are worth the money and your time. So let me know, how will you use your dried beans? Share in the comments below.


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