Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cooking Dried Beans and Legumes - Thrifty Thursdays

Many people are baffled with how to cook dried beans. Relax, it's easy and beans and legumes are some of the healthiest foods you can eat. And if you cook your own dried beans, they are also one of the least expensive foods you can eat. Buying dried beans, as opposed to canned, has far less environmental impact too -- no wasteful packaging and manufacturing and less fuel to transport to market.

Don't worry if your recipe calls for canned beans. Know that dried or canned beans will work interchangeably in recipes.

Here are some more tips to help you cook better with beans:
  • Fresher dried beans will cook faster than older dried beans, so use the cooking times as a very general guideline. Taste the beans for tenderness early and often during the cooking process.

  • Because bean cooking times can vary so widely from batch to batch, it's best to pre-cook dried beans before using in recipes.

  • Cooking Method I -- Place beans in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until beans are tender.

  • Cooking Method II -- Cover beans with cold water and soak overnight or for at least 6 hours. Drain and place in clean water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until tender.

  • beansQuick Soak Method: Cover in cold water, bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let soak for 2 hours, then simmer until tender.

  • Before cooking, rinse the beans and pick through them, removing any small stones that sometimes get mixed in and throwing out any shriveled or discolored beans.

  • Even though they may be dried, the fresher the bean the better -- for flavor and for the amount of nutrients.

  • Store dried beans in covered plastic food containers.

  • After cooking beans, divide into portions and refrigerate leftovers in their own liquid for up to 4 days or in the freezer for 3 months.

  • Reheat cooked beans in the microwave, on the stovetop or even in the oven.

  • To cook beans in a slow cooker, soak as usual, then place beans in slow cooker, over with water or other liquid by about an inch or so. Turn it on low and check in about 6-8 hours (or about 4-5 for high).

  • To cook beans in a pressure cooker, click here for complete directions and suggested cooking times for various types of beans.
Favorite Recipes Using Dried Beans
Now that you know how to cook dried beans, let's put them to tasty use!
Did You Know?
Garbanzo Beans and Chickpeas are the same thing!

Thrifty Thursdays is a blog event created by my fried Amanda Formaro from Amanda's Cookin' blog. I've agreed to participate, so look for a frugal themed post here each Thursday. In addition to reading my posts, be sure to visit Amanda's blog for a round-up of all the thrifty home and cooking tips and recipes that came in this week from folks around the blogosphere.

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