Cook­ing School: Dried Beans

When you’re try­ing to eat health­ier for less money, no food will give you more bang for your buck than dried beans. Here’s your step-by-step cook­ing guide.

Diabetic Living (USA) - - Contents - WRIT­ING & RECIPES LAU­REN GRANT

Eat on the cheap us­ing this three-step method

Step 1: Prep & Soak

At the store, look for beans that are uni­form in size and have a smooth ex­te­rior. Choose beans that are la­beled as “fresh” dried beans if you can find them. Store them in an air­tight glass or plas­tic con­tainer in a cool, dry lo­ca­tion un­til ready to use.

To pre­pare, pour the beans into a large colan­der. Pick through the beans to re­move any peb­bles or de­bris, then rinse them.

TO SOAK OR NOT TO SOAK?

It isn’t nec­es­sary to pre­soak dried beans. How­ever, soak­ing will re­duce cook­ing time and may help pre­vent the beans from get­ting “blown out” or split.

To soak, choose a method ( below) based on how much time you have.

OVERNIGHT SOAK

Trans­fer the rinsed beans to a large bowl or pot and cover with at least 2 inches of wa­ter. Soak at room tem­per­a­ture, cov­ered, for at least 8 hours or overnight.

QUICK SOAK

Trans­fer the rinsed beans to a large pot and cover with at least 2 inches of wa­ter. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 min­utes. Re­move from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour. Drain the beans and rinse with cold wa­ter.

Step 2: Cook

You can cook beans on the stove­top, in the slow cooker, or in a pres­sure cooker.

Cook­ing times vary de­pend­ing on the age and type of bean. As a rule of thumb, taste-test 3 to 5 beans be­fore de­ter­min­ing whether they are done or not.

Beans will cook in noth­ing but wa­ter, but you can also in­clude a few aro­mat­ics and a lit­tle salt to add sub­tle fla­vor. We like to toss in a bay leaf, a few gar­lic cloves, a chopped onion, and 1∕2 to 1 tsp. salt.

ON THE STOVE­TOP

1. Trans­fer the soaked, drained beans to a large pot and cover with at least 2 inches of wa­ter (use about 2 quarts of wa­ter for 1 pound of beans). Add aro­mat­ics and salt, if us­ing.

2. Bring to a boil, skim­ming off any de­bris that rises to the sur­face. Re­duce heat to low and cook, stir­ring ev­ery 30 min­utes, un­til ten­der, 20 to 45 min­utes for lentils or 1 to 2 hours for beans.

IN THE SLOW COOKER

1. Trans­fer the soaked, drained beans to a slow cooker and cover with 5 cups of boil­ing wa­ter. Add aro­mat­ics, if us­ing. 2. Set the slow cooker to High, cover, and cook for 1 to 31∕2 hours. Add salt, if us­ing, and cook 15 min­utes more. Note: Don’t use a slow cooker for dried kid­ney beans. They re­quire high-tem­per­a­ture cook­ing.

IN THE PRES­SURE COOKER

1. Trans­fer the soaked, drained beans to a pres­sure cooker and add 1 Tbsp. oil (to pre­vent foam­ing). Cover with 2 inches of wa­ter (use about 3 cups wa­ter for each 1 cup of beans); add aro­mat­ics and salt, if us­ing, then se­cure and lock the lid.

2. Cook on high pres­sure for 15 to 25 min­utes.

3. Let the pres­sure re­lease nat­u­rally, then un­lock the lid and check for ten­der­ness. If the beans are not quite cooked through, re­place the lid, bring to pres­sure, and cook for an ad­di­tional 5 to 10 min­utes.

Step 3: Use or Store

You can use cooked dried beans in any recipe that calls for canned beans. In gen­eral, use 1½ cups cooked dried beans in place of one 15-ounce can of beans.

You can store cooked beans in an air­tight con­tainer in the re­frig­er­a­tor for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. To freeze, trans­fer cooked beans to a freezer-safe con­tainer or zip-top stor­age bag and fill two-thirds full, then seal and freeze ( see Tip). Thaw overnight in the re­frig­er­a­tor be­fore re­heat­ing or cook­ing. Tip: To save space with zip-top bags, lay the filled bags flat on a sheet pan, trans­fer to the freezer, and freeze un­til firm. Re­move the pan and stack or file the flat­tened bags in the freezer.

ADD ARO­MAT­ICS FOR FLA­VOR

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