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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Beans 101

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I have to admit, for most of my life I haven’t been a bean eater.  It just wasn’t something we grew up eating often, so I never really learned to enjoy them.  When I started a quest to eat healthier, to eat more whole foods, to eat less meat, and to save money, beans just couldn’t be ignored any longer.   I started out using canned beans, which were ok and quick, but I didn’t love them.  Then came the quest to eliminate canned goods (due to bpa in the lining), I decided to bite the bullet and make my own.  I couldn’t be that hard, right? It turns out that they are super easy to cook, they freeze well and they taste 100 times better than canned.  I especially used to hate the slimy metallic tasting broth in the cans and would rinse it off the beans.  The broth in home cooked beans is really yummy!  I save it and freeze it in measured amounts and use it in place of chicken or beef broth in recipes.  

Basic cooked beans

1 # dry beans, black, kidney, chick pea (garbanzo), great northern, any kind except split pea and lentil (which cook differently).
6 cups water
½ tablespoon of salt

Place all together in a pot and bring to a boil, decrease the heat to a simmer, and cover and simmer until done about 2 ½ hours.  Or place with hot water in a crock pot on high setting and cook until tender 3 ½-4 hours, or on low with cold water 7-8 hours.  Makes 10 – ½ cup servings.  I often double the recipe and freeze what I don’t use in 2 cup servings in a little broth, to use later in recipes, and I also freeze the broth for soups.  Most recipes call for seasoning with salt after cooking, which I used to do, but I find this just easier and leaves it seasoned perfectly.

There is a lot out there about soaking beans, making them easier to digest and less gassy.  I personally do not soak my beans and prefer the broth when they are not soaked, and haven’t noticed a difference with the gassy side effects.  I think this is more a factor of eating a high fiber diet, when your body is used to it, it will be much less of a problem. If you choose this method, soak beans in 3 times their volume in water, bring to a simmer, and shut off and leave to soak, some sources say 1-2 hours, others say to improve the digestibility soak for 12-24 hours.  Drain, and cook as above, however the cooking times will be less, and you’ll have to experiment with this as I haven’t. 


  1. Now I need to be concerned about bpa in the liner? Sheeesh! I do like beans, but always make too much at one time, so we get sick of them and don't have them again for 6 months or so. One of these days I will learn.

  2. Great post. I started cooking and freezing my own beans last year and they are so good and fresh tasing. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Michaele, yep bpa in can liners :(, I love to make a lot of them, but they won't get eaten, so I freeze them and use them in casseroles and in the summer homemade refried beans.

    Donna, I agree, nothing compares to home cooked beans.