Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Preparing Dried Beans

Black Beans - Dried

Did you know that in the nineteenth century, prior to the mass production of meat processing, beans were the primary source of protein for Americans?

If you are trying to include more sources of protein to your diet other than meat or if you are a vegetarian, thinking about becoming one, or a vegan, increasing your consumption of beans or adding bean dishes to your meals will help in caloric and nutritional needs.

Beans, peas, soy, and other legumes are a great source of low-fat, low-calorie, and no cholesterol protein.  Many also contain zinc, calcium and iron.

Is it really worth buying dried beans and peas?

Mixed Dried BeansI suppose it is if you want to reduce sodium consumption and eliminate a lot of the words you can't pronounce (at least I can't!) in addition to all the preservatives.

Another really good reason to buy dried over canned is the cost savings!  Here's a little math for you:  1 pound dried = 7 cups cooked (approximately, depending on the type and size of beans) and 1 can = almost 2 cups (15 oz).  That means one pound dried = 3 and 1/2 cans!  That's a savings that can add up.

Getting back to basics is really a lot easier than it seems at first glance.  It takes a little extra thought but once you get into the routine, it's so much better and a whole lot more fun.

Types of dried beans that are typically found in local grocery stores include:
    Lentils - Dried
  • Black Beans
  • Black-Eyed Peas
  • Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
  • Lima Beans
  • Lentils {Do NOT need to be soaked}
  • Mixed Variety
  • Navy Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Red Beans (these look like kidney beans but smaller)
  • Red Kidney Beans
  • Split Peas (Green, Yellow and sometimes mixed) {Do NOT need to be soaked}

Depending on the type and size of dried beans:
One pound equals approximately 2-1/4 cups dried
6 to 7 cups cooked
3 to 3 1/2  - 15 ounce cans.

"Okay Marie, I bought a pound of dried kidney beans.  Now what?!"

Ahh, you made me smile on that one because I've been there.  I would normally open one or two cans of beans depending on what I'm cooking.  We know that is 2 to 4 cups of cooked beans.  So, I will now take 1 cup (1/2 a pound or 1/2 of the bag) dried beans and allow them to soak.  The result will give me about 3 and a 1/2 cups cooked.  Beans, peas, etc. will typically double (or more) in size by the time they are done soaking.

3 SIMPLE steps for Preparing Your Beans:

  1. Spill your beans into a cookie sheet or colander and sort through them looking for any small pebbles or other natural debris that shouldn't be there.
  2. Shower then Bathe your beans.
    • Quick Soak:  For every 1 cup of dried beans add 3-4 cups hot water in a large pot.  Allow water to come to a rapid boil for about 2 minutes and then remove from heat.  Keep covered and let stand for 1 hour.  Drain and rinse.
    • Overnight Soak:  For every 1 cup of dried beans add 3-4 cups of cold water in a bowl.  Let stand overnight or at least 6-8 hours.  Sometimes, if there are a lot of bubbles, I will replace the water and allow to continue soaking.  Drain and rinse.
  3. Cook your soaked and rinsed beans (1 cup beans to 3-4 cups water) by allowing to simmer slowly with the lid slightly tilted on the pan until desired tenderness is achieved (about 1-2 hours). 
Now your beans are done and you can either cook with them as you would after opening a can of beans or divide the beans and freeze some for later use.

Chickpeas - Dried

Wait a minute!  What about those bubbles?  What are they and why are they there?  They are antinutrients such as phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors.  If you didn't see the bubbles that would mean they will be releasing in your body causing gas.  The other good reason for seeing those bubbles is knowing that digestion and nutrient absorption will be increased.

How do you store your dried beans?  Have you noticed a difference since switching from cans?
Are you still hesitant to switch from using canned beans to dried?  Do you have additional questions?

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