Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How to Tuesday: Soaking and Cooking Beans

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If your family eats a lot of beans, it can get pretty expensive to purchase them in the can. Yes the can of beans is super easy and convenient, however the salt content is out of this world and per unit is much more expensive than soaking and cooking them yourself.
Cost Comparison: Cans of beans typically come in a 15oz. size. A can of beans runs between $0.79-$1.00, sometimes less if you can match it with a coupon. A 2 pound bag of dried beans at my Aldi runs about $1.99-$2.49 depending on the type of bean.You can make the equivalent of 8 cans of beans out of 2 pounds of dried beans. That means that soaking and cooking your own beans will cost you between $0.25-$0.31 per can vs. $0.79 for the store canned beans. If you replace just one can of beans per week you can save your family $24.96-$28.08 per year. We usually use about 3 or 4 cans of beans so the savings really start to add up. Every little bit of savings adds up to a big difference in your bottom line.

How to make the beans:

There are two ways to cook dried beans ~ an easy way, and an even easier way. :)

On the stovetop:
  • Pour the bag of beans in a stockpot.
  • Cover the beans completely with water and put a lid on the pot. Let it sit to soak for 6-8 hours. 
  • Dump the beans into a colander or fine mesh strainer and give them a rinse. Also do a quick rinse of your pot to ensure that any dirt or grit is removed.
  • Put the beans back into the pot. Cover the beans with enough water to be about 2" above the level of the beans.
  • Put the lid back on and turn your burner on high.
  • Bring the beans to a rolling boil, and then turn them down to medium.
  • Let them cook until the beans are tender (at least 1 hour).
  • You may add salt at this point. DO NOT add salt before this point or it will keep the beans rock hard. I learned the hard way. ;) I typically don't add salt because I'm adding them to soup or another dish that has salt in it already.
  • Drain the beans. Let them cool completely in the strainer.
  • Scoop 1 1/2 c. of the cooked beans into a zip top baggie. Squeeze all the air out before sealing, seal it and then lay it flat. Store them stacked in your freezer.
Slow cooker method:
  • Pour the bag of beans into a large colander or fine mesh strainer. Give the beans a good rinse and do a quick sort to make sure no rocks or other large debris are present.
  • Put the rinsed beans into your slow cooker and fill to the top with water. I have a 6 qt. slow cooker and 2 pounds fits just perfectly.
  • Put the lid on and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours, depending on how hot your slow cooker gets.
  • Once cooked, you may add salt if desired.
  • Drain the beans and let them cook completely.
  • Scoop 1 1/2 c. of the cooked beans into a zip top baggie. Squeeze all the air out before sealing, seal it and then lay it flat. Store them stacked in your freezer.
It is really that easy! Give it a try and enjoy the savings in your grocery budget.


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