Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Using Dry Beans, my quick and easy overnight routine

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When you look at ways to squeeze your grocery budget, there is hardly anything more rewarding than using dry beans. Here are some great reasons to give up on the canned stuff, and use dry beans:

...to name a few. I also find that I can get away with half as much ground beef in many recipes if I add beans. Keep the protein and lose the fat! Yay! 

I may be biased because my dear sis-in-law works for a local dry bean producer.  Since we eat them all the time, it's handy to buy them in bulk at the local plant to save money. Plus it's a great way to support local food producers.  Last season we actually grew them ourselves! This is another reason dry beans are a good choice at our house. 

As for the money savings: using Pintos for an example: canned beans go for about 60 cents to $1 per can. One can has about 1.5 cups of beans. One pound of dry beans yields 6 cups cooked, so 1/4 a pound is the same as one can. Dry beans go for 80 cents (bulk price when I buy a 25lb bag) to $1.30 per pound at the grocery store. This means a 1/4 pound costs as little as 20 cents! Canned beans are 200% more expensive. (See, this is a homeschool post! How do you like my math?!)


Ok, on to the process. First, sort the beans. The best way to do this is to spill them on a clean counter-top, spread them out, and look them over. When they are harvested, tiny bean-sized pebbles can get into the mix. Some times you won't find any, sometimes there a several. But I will tell you, the first time you bite into one in a bowl of chili, you will wish you hadn't skipped this step!

sorting the beans into a colander

Then wash them. I put them in a bowl and cover with water, and agitate them with my hands. Pour through a strainer/colander, and we're done!




At this point I put them into the slow cooker and cover with water at least 3"-4" above the beans. I like to cook up 2+ pounds at a time in my 6 quart pot. This is for a few reasons, and none of them include me eating 12-15 cups of beans at one sitting. :)  I like the convenience of canned beans as much as the next gal, so I cook a LOT at one time and then freeze in "meal sized" portions, so they are ready to go, just as fast as canned.



I do all of this at night, and then put the pot on low and forget about them until morning.

~edit 3/11/13~ If you find they don't get done overnight, your slow cooker may by cooler on "low" than mine. I'm finding there is quite a variation. Try doing it on high if they don't turn out the first time. If your slow cooker was manufactured after 2007, it will cook at these higher temps. If it was manufactured before 2007, maybe you should buy one with all the money you're saving not buying canned beans!~

Also, as a commenter noted: if you are cooking Kidney Beans, be sure they do boil for at least 10 minutes to remove naturally occurring toxins. See this link for more information.



All that's left to do is strain them off...


Rinse well and bag them up....





and freeze!



Now wasn't that easy? I freeze them in quarts (about 3-4 cups) because my family is bigger and we like a lot of them. But you could freeze a can sized portion (1 and 1/2 cups) in a sandwich bag, fill a gallon freezer bag with those smaller bags, and freeze them that way. Another great way (sorry, no pics of this) is to spread them on a cookie sheet to freeze individually, then dump into gallon bags. Then you can use a cup measure to scoop out exactly what you need every time!

The Everything Beans Book
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A note about, ummm, "the after-effects of beans":I am told it is the sugars in beans that produce the gas. The sugars in beans are water soluble, so many suggest soaking the beans before cooking, and draining off the water they soaked in. Cook in fresh water. To keep this a simple slow cooker routine you could soak (power off) overnight in your slow cooker.  In the morning, rinse and replace them there with fresh water, turn it on and cook on high for only a few hours. They should be done by lunch this way. Also, the fresher your beans, the less gassy they should be, so I'm told. We happened to grow these beans ourselves, so they were fresh!

Need a yummy recipe to use those beans? Try the Best Home-made Chili (scroll to end of post), that was demonstrated at our local farmer's market cooking demo. Also, our local bean producer puts out a cookbook! Be sure you try the Coffee Bean Brownies!
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Here's a favorite recipe using dry beans:

Black Bean Chili!
Nothing can have a better start than bacon, can it? As you may know, I love cooking with beans, and I recently got a great deal on some dry black beans. So I cooked them up using my usual overnight method, and froze them in bags. Having that all done made this a quick and easy soup to assemble. My hubby declared it one of his new favorites. *score!*






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38 comments:

  1. I remember when I used to do this. Cans are more convenient, but your math is very convincing--even if I do smaller amounts. I just can't get dry beans as inexpensive as you can, although the beans we get out here, actually come from the same place you get them. Pretty cool!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also cook my dry beans in the crock pot (red kidneys); however, they do much better if they are soaked overnight. Follow instructions through washing the beans, then cover with water and let stand overnight. Pour that water off, place soaked beans in crock pot, cover with clear water, add seasonings, meat--sausage or ham if desired--and cook as above. Beans will be soft and creamy!

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    2. I cook beans (mostly red kidney) in my crockpot; however, I soak them overnight. Then cook as directed above. Pour off the "soak" water and use fresh water. I add either smoked sausage or a hambone to the beans and the seasonings we prefer (garlic, onions, a tiny bit of celery) and the come out creamy and delicious. Soaked beans can be ready for the noon meal if they have about 3 hours to cook on high.

      Delete
  2. I have been a failure at using dry beans, I am going to try this though! thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you find they don't get done overnight, your crockpot may by cooler on "low" than mine. I'm finding there is quite a variation. Try doing it on high if they don't turn out. Thanks for stopping in!

      Delete
  3. Found on pintrist! Trying. Large family here. Thank you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you find they don't get done overnight, your crockpot may by cooler on "low" than mine. I'm finding there is quite a variation. Try doing it on high if they don't turn out. Thanks for stopping in!

      Delete
  4. How long can they last in the freezer?

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    Replies
    1. 2-3 months for the best quality. I've used frozen veggies up to 12 months later with no problems as long as they were in freezer bags with little to no air.

      Also, If you find they don't get done overnight, your crockpot may by cooler on "low" than mine. I'm finding there is quite a variation. Try doing it on high if they don't turn out. Thanks for stopping in!

      Delete
  5. Uh, you probably need to put a warning about kidney beans on this post. Kidney beans need to be boiled for 5-10 minutes or they'll make someone seriously ill. A slow cooker does not always get hot enough to boil away the Phytohemagglutinin. The FDA has documented that there's been several documented cases of outbreaks because of slow cookers. http://www.fda.gov/food/foodsafety/foodborneillness/foodborneillnessfoodbornepathogensnaturaltoxins/badbugbook/ucm071092.htm

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Joy, I actually did not know that, but almost never cook with kidney beans! I will add a note. :)

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    2. I didn't know that about kidney beans. I cook them in my crockpot on high all the time.

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    3. I didn't know that about kidney beans. I have always cooked them in my crock pot on high, never had a problem.

      Delete
  6. I always cook my own beans but usually on the stove. Do you not need to soak your beans? I usually soak them overnight and cook the next day but I do find I have a hard time getting them the perfect doneness and they usually end up mushy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you are looking for a consistent done-ness, I'd suggest trying this staying in the morning and seeing how many hours until your beans reach perfection. I do not soak the beans, as it's just an extra step for me.

      I'm finding there is quite a variation in cockpot temps, mine boils on low, if it's been going long enough. Try doing it on high if they don't turn out. Thanks for stopping in!

      P. S. Please do come back and share what you find, and what kind of crock pot you have. I'd be glad to add anything to this article!

      Delete
    2. Or you can just can them in the mason jars

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    3. Clean,soak overnight, rinse and cook in fresh water. For the cooking, bring beans to a rapid boil then lower heat to medium high and stir your beans every now and then. Do NOT add salt while boiling your beans! Hardens them. Wait until you're done. Keep stirring them and keep boiling to your level of tenderness.

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  7. I have tried doing in the past and have found that the beans from home tend to make my family a little more gassy than canned. Any ideas on how to make that not happen?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Celeste, Thanks for stopping in! I have noticed that my hubby has the same issue with beans (and since I don't use canned, I don't know if that is different!). He has the same issue with milk too. In both cases it is the particular sugars that produce the gas. The sugars in beans are water soluble, so many suggest soaking the beans before cooking, and draining off the water they soaked in. Cook in fresh water. To keep this a simple crockpot routine, you could soak overnight in your crockpot. In the morning, rinse and replace them there with fresh water, turn it on and cook on high for only a few hours. They should be done by lunch this way.

      I hope this helps you!

      Delete
  8. if you add a lil baking soda to your beans as they cook, it de-farts your beans : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Alison! I'll have to try that!

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  9. I love beans, thanks for posting. Beanbasics.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my, your bean blog may be my new FAVORITE place. :) Thanks for stopping in!

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  10. Did I miss the salt part? You will have bitter, unedible beans without it. I use garlic (or garlic powder)as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So far I've never had my pintos turn out bitter. But they are really fresh local beans. I also usually season them when I pull them out of the freezer and add to recipes. :)

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  11. found you on pinterest and found this very helpful! Thanks!

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  12. You mentioned that you strain the juice off before freezing. On the days you do this, what do you do with the juice from cooking them? Can it be used in anything?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping in Amanda! I don't usually save the water, but some do. Here's a great article about it, and be sure to read all the good comments. :)

      http://lynnecurry.com/2010/03/dont-throw-out-that-bean-water/

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  13. I cook beans in the slow cooker lentils too. I even use dried chick peas now to make hummus even cheaper. Often times in the winter I will put the beans on around dinner time on high - then before bed add all the other stuff and overnight on low. In the morning Canadian style baked beans ready for breakfast. Nom!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for posting this! The first time I did it, my beans were overcooked. I'm trying it again with the setting on "low". I'm not a night owl, so I'm doing it during the day.
    How many hours works best for you?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for posting this, it's a GREAT idea!

    The first time I tried this, my beans were WAY overcooked.
    I'm not a night owl, so I'm trying this during the day.(Plus, I like making something for dinner with my fresh beans).

    How many hours do you think works best?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like 8 hours on low, but my slowcooker may be different than yours. Thanks for coming by!

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  16. FYI. an pressure cooker with 15 lb pressure can cook a whole pot in like 15 - 20 min. I love this method of cooking them. Thanks for your tips!

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  17. May sound crazy but I put a can of coke in my beans when they reach the boiling point...it fizzes a couple of minutes and then the fizz goes away..takes the 'gas' out...been doing this forever and we don't have a problem with that part. You can't taste it and never even know it was there...NOT diet soda..regular soda!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. i have heard to add 2 tsp of baking soda to your beans while soaking them overnight, then drain well, and that will take the gas out of them alos

    ReplyDelete

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