Do you feel like you’re too busy or too intimidated to cook meals from scratch? I know that some of you have reconnected with your inner chef during the stay-home-stay-safe orders. And maybe you’ve had more time to experiment. But maybe you’re NOT one of these people with an inner chef. Or maybe your life has gotten busy again. If so, I have some tips for you when it comes to cooking beans.
So many of you have sheepishly admitted to me that opening a can of beans from the store is just easier. And I get that! But if you want to eat local or eliminate the additives in processed foods from your diet, or just want to eat delicious, nutritious beans that you’ve cooked YOURSELF, I’m here for you. I can help you “kick the can” with these three easy tips for cooking once and eating several times.
3 TIPS FOR COOKING WITH DRY BEANS:
1. Use the crock-pot and cook a whole pound of beans (or more) at a time. Soak* them overnight if you can (it’s better for your health). Then drain and rinse and throw them in the crockpot. Cover with enough water so that there is at least 1-2” of water above the beans. Turn on low, and check in 3-4 hours. (To speed things up, put on high for the first hour. But don’t leave it on high—beans don’t like to be boiled!) Add salt and a bay leaf and continue cooking until they are the desired tenderness. Crock pots are all a little different, and you may want to experiment with yours to see if bean cooking takes 4 hours or 8 hours.
2. Use your Instant Pot to cook a whole pound of beans (or more) at a time. Soak* the beans overnight. Drain and rinse, and place in the liner of the Instant Pot. Cover with enough water so that there is at least 1-2” of water above the beans. Add salt and a bay leaf to the pot, and set to pressure for 5-10 minutes. Again, you will have to experiment with the time a little, depending on pre-soak vs. no-soak and also depending on the age of your beans.
3. Freeze the leftovers! Put 1-1/2 cups of cooked beans in a freezer-safe container (with or without the broth—your choice!) and pop them in your freezer. This is like having a “can” of beans ready for your use later on.
BONUS TIP: WAIT with the tomatoes. Don’t add any tomatoes (or other acidic foods) to the dry beans when you begin cooking them. Beans are sensitive to the pH of the cooking medium, and will never soften up if cooked with tomatoes. ALWAYS wait to add tomatoes until the beans are nearly finished cooking.
*If you are pressed for time, just rinse the beans well, and cook them. Cooking them this way once in a while won’t hurt. Just keep in mind that they will take longer to cook if they’re not pre-soaked.