When I think of a traditional, wholesome, frugal food, the first thing that comes to mind is the bean! I have yet to read an old cookbook that doesn’t have a section dedicated to bean recipes. Dried beans were a staple in homes of old and many a housewife sustained her family throughout the winter months on these odd-looking, dried seeds!
In many ways, beans have become the poor man’s food. At least in this culture, it certainly seems to be so! And it’s easy to think of the bean as an “empty” food. But actually, this dried legume offers the human body calories, protein, fiber and potassium. You can read about nutrient levels in this article.
There’s no reason under the sun why a frugal minded cook shouldn’t learn how to prepare dried beans in her own kitchen. And with the tip I’m going to show you that helps with…shall we just say ‘side effects’…you might find yourself embracing beans as a weekly part of your diet!
How to Cook Dried Beans
Traditionally, beans were soaked for 24 hours, after which the water changed out to decrease ‘side effects.’ Fresh liquid added in and then these little gems were slowly cooked on top of a wood stove or over an open fire. Today, many women have the luxury of a pressure cooker or instapot, which significantly speeds the cooking process.
But this girl? I still prepare my beans the good, old fashioned way! Here’s how you do it.
Pre-Soak Your Beans
Because beans are dehydrated and take their own sweet time in re-hydrating themselves, the first step in the preparation process is to soak your legumes. This significantly cuts down on the cooking time!
In a pot, place 1 part beans with 3-4 parts water. I like to add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar to help reduce the ‘side effects’ beans are so well known for. E-hem!
Remember that your beans can double in volume by the time they are hydrated. Make sure you have a pot large enough to container them, then cover with a lid and let your beans sit for 24-36 hours.
Rinse Your Beans
After your beans have soaked for the proper length of time, pour off the water. Rinse them with fresh water.
This accomplished, it’s time to add liquid to your beans once again. However, this time ’round, you can use beef or chicken broth, tomato juice or anything else that suits your fancy! If you are adding a soup bone, now is the time. Just make sure you twice as much liquid as bean!
Cook the Beans
Gently simmer the beans at the back of your kitchen stove. If you have a wood stove, that will do as well! Cook for 4-8 hours, or until your beans begin to split open. Try eating a few. Are they soft? If not, cook them for another hour or two. Test again.
The cooking time will vary according to your bean variety. Take notes and you’ll know what to expect next time. When you are satisfied with the softness of your beans, they are ready to be put to use in the kitchen!
How to Use Your Beans
There are many things you can do with beans! Add meat and veggies for a soup or chili. Mash for re-fried beans. Bake with molasses and bacon. Freeze them for later use. The world wide web is there to help you!
Get Adventurous the Bean!
Don’t be afraid to try different types and varieties of dried beans. You may find that you prefer a black bean to a white bean. Or vice versa. Some will cook up faster than others. The texture and flavor profile will vary from type to type, and some may give your family more “side effects,” while others won’t give you issues at all when consumed in moderation.
So before you come to a conclusion about beans, be sure you’ve given them a fair trial! Happy bean making, friend!