Working with Dried Beans. Tip: Think “All Day” (not Overnight) to Soak*

We’ve had a great first week in eating according to our allergies and our new goal to omit meat for humane and environmental reasons. We are already in the practice of eating a lot of beans so our bodies are already used to them. I was fairly adamant that my son eat beans early on. It took the standard 8-10 separate “tries” before he decided he liked them. Now he eats them with gusto! You have no idea how happy this makes me that he eats beans.

Beans are so good for the body. So high in fiber, protein, vitamins, antioxidants and low in calories and zero cholesterol. Click here for a great article from WebMD on the wonderful nutritive value of beans.

Not only do they have all of those nutritional and health benefits, but they are immensely economical. For $1, a bag of beans will yield the equivalent of about 8 cans of the 14oz cans of beans. Even though dried beans are more economical, I get both dried beans and canned beans (without EDTA added in the cans). The dried beans take some time to work with but with a little planning, which we’ll talk about in this article, the process can easily be worked into a busy schedule. If I’ve been too busy with college coursework, blogging, job searching, mothering and volunteer activities, and I have forgotten to start a dried bean cooking process, the canned beans are great to have on hand. Canned beans are super fast – even faster than meat. Open a can, saute’ the beans in some vegetable broth with veggies and leftover cooked rice or gluten-free pasta (or even shredded potatoes) and you have a good, filling, hot meal.

So here’s the tip about the soaking that I put in the title, (it’s pretty straightforward):

Start soaking the dried beans in the morning.  By the time you get home in the evening, they will be ready to cook. That’s it.

*You can do an overnight soak, but if you do, put the beans in a crock pot in the morning. Do not soak the beans more than 8-10 hours.

Either way, if you plan soak and cook into your schedule, it’s not such the arduous process that people think. Here’s a nifty pic of my black beans. Notice how they double in size (they expand even more during cooking).

If you do the daytime soak and cook the beans when you get home, don’t think that they will be ready for dinner. So eat sandwiches and do your bean cooking. Since they simmer for two hours, there isn’t much to it but checking in on them from time to time to see if they need more liquid. But if you use enough liquid, you won’t have to. Think of it this way: these beans are going to make your life EASY for the next 3-4 days of dinners. I do my college homework while cooking beans.

So, back to how to do it: once soaking is finished, cook them in a pot, with plenty of water (about 3-4 inches above the beans), and drop in two cubes of gluten-free vegan vegetable bouillon cubes. If you have vegetable broth, that’s great! Use that! But I’m looking to be extremely economical and the picture above is a package of bouillon cubes that I got for $2.69 at Kroger. (Sweet!) That equates to about .33 cents for each 16 ounces of liquid broth that I make with the cubes.

So, bring the beans to a boil (with the 2 bouillon cubes), cover and simmer for two hours. Turn off the heat. Put the whole pot in the refrigerator to cool and to use for the following three days for all kinds of things! Bean salads, bean burgers, enchiladas, nachos, tacos, beans n’ rice… to name a few.

I like to make a lot of rice on the same nights that I’m doing all of this bean cooking. I do the same thing to the rice when it’s done, I just put the whole pot with lid in the refrigerator and get what I need for the next few meals.

By doing all of this, you have PLENTY of beans on hand for various meals that will feed you and your family for roughly around $5 for each meal depending on what other ingredients you use along with those two ingredients. That’s less than what it would cost to get a really crappy fast food burger. And WAY BETTER for you and your world!

If you don’t think you’re going to use all of the whole pot of beans anytime soon, ladle into jars (with 2 inches of head room) and freeze. You can recycle jars and lids from salsas, pasta sauces and the like for this purpose (no need to buy plastic containers).

When you want to use the frozen beans, simply transfer them from freezer to refrigerator about two days before.

Here’s a handy recipe for you to get started (I’ll add more recipes as we use up our first batch):

Black Beans and Rice with Kale and Red Onions

DSC_0251

2 cups black beans

2 cups cooked rice

1 red onion, large dice

1/2 bunch of kale, torn and washed

1 tsp Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

drizzle extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil

Directions:

Coat a large nonstick skillet with vegetable oil, just a thin layer. 

Ladle about 2 cups of your black beans (with veg broth liquid) and red onion. Cook until red onions are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Add cooked rice and a little more liquid from the bean pot.

Add Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

At the end, stir in kale until just wilted but still bright green and turn off of the heat.

Drizzle about 1/4 cup of the olive oil and stir.

Serve. Enjoy!

Published by

Michelle

Michelle is a Public Speaker, Educator, Blog Author and Photojournalist for over 15 years. Upon discovering that her child has multiple food allergies, she has turned her passion for cooking into a passion of sharing and teaching on the topic of food allergies. Michelle is the Founder of Safe Eats.net, where readers can learn the art of cooking and baking to avoid all allergens and cope with living with food allergies.

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