Apparently, there is a lot of confusion over how to cook dried beans. In honor of the fact that we all need a little more fiber in our diets, here are simple tips for cooking dried beans. Dried beans are about the cheapest thing you can eat, besides maybe rice. And they are healthier than canned beans. To me, it’s worth the extra time to cook dried beans–sometimes it just requires a little extra planning ahead.
How are they healthier than canned beans?
1. They don’t have all that salt in them.
2. The inside of cans of all canned foods, including canned beans, is lined with BPA. BPA in my beans?! Yuck. The canning industry has promised to get rid of the BPA… as soon as they can figure out what to replace it with.
Okay, here’s our tips for cooking dried beans:
1. Pre-soaking the beans in water over night will help them cook faster.
2. Do NOT add salt to the beans until they are fully cooked. Salt is a dessicant (ie. it dries things out) and it will prevent your beans from fully absorbing liquid. Yum, crunchy beans. I guess it’s a good way to make sure you get plenty of fiber. …Cook beans in water or low-sodium stock.
3. The same thing goes for vinegar–do not add it to your beans until they are done cooking.
4. Once your beans have cooked to the desired tenderness, then add salt and it will prevent the beans from over-cooking and turning to mush.
5. Try not to buy dried beans in massive amounts. I know, sometimes you open that pour spout on the bulk food container and the beans just shoot out. You meant to get a few cups of beans and now you’ve got twenty. Oops. Well, anyway, dried beans do get stale, ie. they get even drier, and if they are very stale they will never cook up nicely. That being said, try to only buy dried beans from a place that sells them regularly–like the bulk foods section of a co-op or natural foods store. If you do buy a package of dried beans and it’s covered with a layer of dust, as I recently made the mistake of doing, then rest assured, you will be stuck with crunchy beans.
6. Crock pots are a great way to cook beans. I have found there is usually a lot of leeway between when dried beans have cooked to a nice texture and before they turn to mush so you don’t need to keep a close eye on them.
7. Cooked beans freeze well. You can always cook up a big batch and freeze them in small amounts. In fact, freezing seem to help break down the fiber a little more.
8. Avoid mixed beans! Much like packages of mixed rice, mixed beans are a terrible idea. Beans cook at different rates, so the mixed bean packs always wind up with some crunchy and some mushy. Cook the different beans separately THEN combine them.
With these simple steps in mind, you can now go out and fully enjoy the wonderful cost effectiveness (not to mention health benefits) of a truly Magical Fruit!!