I am going to start a series within my blog that outlines the basics of the basics. Some folks will cook at home, but what they cook is convenience foods. So for example: using Uncle Ben’s Minute Rice, Instant Mashed Potatoes, canned chicken broth, or canned beans from the store. These things are not that hard to make from scratch, but there can be an intimidation factor. A “I don’t know where to start factor”. I’m here to hold your hand. I want to show you how easy some of these things can be. It’s true, it will take a little extra planning on your part, and a little more time, but the outcome will be a more nutritious and many times less expensive way to make your food.
Being able to make these things from scratch is also good for long term storage. I can store lots of dried beans which I have purchase for a very long time quite easily. A lot of people who are “Prepper’s” or “Survivalists” will stock up on dried items such as rice and beans. But what good are they if you don’t know how to make them. Aside of ease of storage, here are a few more reason you may want to make your beans from dried beans:
- Much less expensive: a pound of organic dried kidney beans cost me $2.04. A pound of dried beans, once cooked, will equal over 4 cans of beans. I found cans of organic canned red kidney beans for over $2.00 a pound. So $2 of dried beans and a little bit of planning will yield $8 worth of canned beans. That’s a 400% return on investment.
- They aren’t stored in questionable cans.
- Less waste. When you buy dried beans, they generally come in a plastic bag. I then transfer my beans to a glass jar. So I’m only disposing of the plastic bag. When you buy canned beans, you are disposing of the can. While the can is recyclable, recycling is not a zero sum game. We are using fossil fuels to transport this recyclable material and to process the material. While recycling is better than putting your garbage in a landfill, not creating any waste is the best way for us and for our planet.
- It is rewarding to have the knowledge that you can make dried beans.
I’m using organic dried red kidney beans. Each type of bean has different tastes and textures. This is where you can experiment and see what works beans work best for you.
Here’s where the planning comes in, the night before you want your beans (if you want beans for Thursday night’s dinner, do this on Wednesday night before bed), put your beans in bowl and add water so that the water is covering the beans by one to two inches. How much should you make? I say make a BUNCH. **TIP ALERT*** You can freeze the extras, and they stay in the freezer for up to 6 months. But for a recipe, I’ve found that about 2/3 of a cup of dried beans translates to one 15.5 ounce can of beans. Different beans vary on this, but this is a good rule of thumb as most recipes that require beans do not need exact amounts (Like my super yummy chili I’ll share with you soon!).
When you wake up in the morning, drain the water off of the beans and refill the bowl and the beans with fresh water.
About an hour and half before dinner, strain the soaked beans and put them in a pot with enough fresh water to cover them by about two inches. Put the pot on the stove and turn your stove on medium high.
Let the water come to a boil, stirring regularly. If your water boils off to the point that some of your bean become exposed, add more water to your pot. In about an hour, test a bean. How do you test a bean? Fish it out of the boiling water, let it cook and taste it. Is it done, is it the texture you like? If so, you are done. Pour the beans through a strainer, and use them for your recipe, or put them in a container to be put in the freezer. Simple!!