Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Preparing Dried Beans

I think it is safe to say I almost never buy canned beans.  And it has been years and years since I've bought refried beans because homemade refried beans are so much better!

I buy dried beans and cook them myself.  Not only are dried beans much less expensive but I know how they were prepared and what is in them.  I like knowing what is in my food and I find as time goes on that is becoming more and more important to me.

Cooking dried beans is super simple and if you happen to have a slow cooker the task is just that much easier because you don't have to babysit them.

Most of my recipes use two cups of beans for soups and chilis.  I double those recipes quite a bit so it isn't unusual for me to cook up four cups of dried beans at one time. 

I loosely measure my beans into a colander as it is not an exact science.  Then sort through them to remove any funky looking beans, but more importantly I'm looking for stones.  It is quite common in the harvesting process to pick up small pebbles and lumps of dirt and you certainly don't want to eat those.  So you really want to take your time and make sure you don't have any of those left in your beans.

Next I put the colander in the sink and wash the beans with warm water.  It gives me another opportunity to look for stones too.  After they are thoroughly rinsed I give the colander a good shake and let them drain.

I set my slow cooker on high and add two quarts of hot water to the pot.  Then put in my beans and allow them to cook for up to four hours.  Every once in awhile I'll check them and stir, adding water as needed.  You can smell them cooking when they start to get done.  So I check them and test them for doneness toward the end of the cooking time.

For most recipes I cook my beans until they are tender, but not mushy.  For refried beans I cook them until they are pretty soft. 

What is really nice about cooking your own beans is that you can incorporate the cooking liquid which is full of all kinds of healthy goodness right into your recipe.  With canned beans you have to rinse that off and I always think it has kind of a snotty consistency and appearance.  So yeah, you'd want to wash that off, but more so, what is that?  Home cooked dry beans never seem to have that.  ???

So not only is cooking your own beans more economical, but they are super simple to make too.  Dried beans last a really long time and store well.  I buy my beans and legumes in the bulk bins and also at the dollar store.  There are tons of varieties to choose from and I encourage you to get a bunch of different kinds and try them.  Lentils and split peas too.


  1. I always cook the entire bag, then freeze any I don't need right away in pint or quart size freezer bags. Works great when I have to have beans in a hurry.

    1. I love to keep containers of beans in my freezer for recipes too.

  2. Refried beans cooling on our counter right now!

    - Molly


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