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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cooking Dry Beans

One job that I don't particularly care for in the kitchen is picking through beans. Hate it! It's so monotonous yet if not done I'll be left with beans with hard crunchy shriveled beans and a few even crunchier pieces of rock! So if I can't avoid doing the job, I want to at least avoid doing it so often! So when I make beans I don't make any less than 2 lbs at a time. That way we can have bean dishes several times and only have to pick through once.

Actually, for many years I'd only buy canned beans! I knew dry beans were much cheaper (and with the high salt content plus the risk of unpleasant things leaching from the can, much healthier too) but the process of preparing them seemed too much work compared to opening a can! Well, I needn't have avoided them because aside from the dreaded picking process (the bane of my existence :p) they are so easy to make! I make big batches and then freeze what I don't need immediately in can sized portions (2 cups cooked and drained beans, add 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid if your recipes tend to require a can of beans with the liquid but not many do).

1- Empty bag (or bags) of beans into a bowl and pick through; discarding stones and cracked or shriveled beans.

2- Rinse and cover by a couple inches with cool water. Cover the container and let soak about 8 hours or overnight.

3- Drain and rinse the beans and place beans in a crock pot (I use a 3 quart if making a single pound but let's face it, why make a single pound?! I do 2 or 3 pounds at a time and use a 5-7 quart crockpot). Cover with fresh water or bone broth (broth is healthiest but if I'm making something like hummus or black bean brownies I don't want them tasting like chicken!) by a couple inches and cook them 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. I like to put my beans on to soak in the morning, then get them in the crockpot just before I go to bed and cook them on low overnight. Then first thing in the morning drain them and pop them in the fridge to cool. Once I use what I need that day I portion and freeze the rest.

How simple is that?! I do keep a few cans around for use when the need for beans strike when I hadn't the foresight to replenish my freezer stash, but so long as I'm careful to make a new batch when I use up the last of the old it's nearly as convenient as canned! Even if I forget to thaw them it doesn't take too long to thaw them in a colander under warm running water in a pinch!

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