Cooking Tip Thursdays is dedicated to making time in the kitchen quicker, easier, and just plain better….
In keeping with the theme of the week, fiber-rich cleanses and bean pasta, it’s only natural today’s cooking tip should unveil the mysterious curtain surrounding cooking dried beans. I know it’s much easier to just buy a can of beans, but while definitely convenient, canned beans are not the healthiest or cheapest option. They generally contain large quantities of sodium and preservatives and aren’t nearly as cost effective. Cost of cans: at least $.99/can. Cost of dried beans: generally $1.50 – $2.00 for a 1 lb. bag – which makes approximately 8 cups of beans; or 4 cans worth!
How To Clean and Prep Beans:
Soaking beans before they are cooked helps return moisture to the beans and soften them, reducing the cooking time. This process also allows for easier digestion by dissolving some of the hard-to-digest enzymes. It is important to note that beans grow in size: ½ cup dried beans = approx. 1 cup soaked beans. * Lentils, split peas and black-eyed peas do not need to be soaked.
- Measure out your beans.
- Pick over beans, looking for rocks, stones and dried, withered and discolored beans, then discard.
- Measure triple the amount of water as beans, ex. for 1 cup dried, use 3 cups water. Place beans and water in a container.
- Let sit 6-8 hours (or overnight). The beans do not have to be covered, but you may want to for cleanliness sake.
- Drain and rinse beans.
How To Cook Beans:
Most beans are prepared on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker (for faster cooking). For purposes here, instructions are for stovetop cooking.
- After rinsing soaked beans, place in a pot with at least one inch of water covering them. A typical ratio is 1 cup of soaked beans cooked in 3 cups of water.
- Add ¼ teaspoon salt to the water and bring to a boil. You can also add a 2-inch strip of the seaweed kombu to the water. Kombu, natural source of glutamic acid, will tenderize, enhance flavor and add invaluable vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals to the beans.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and then cover completely.
- Cook for approximately 45 – 60 minutes, until desired doneness. For spreads, dips, and purees, cook on the higher side for a softer bean. For salads and side dishes, cook on the lower side for a harder bean.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt 5 minutes before beans are finished. (Adding salt to the beans at the beginning of cooking toughens the skins and increases cooking time. However, beans usually taste better when seasoned early, so use a minimal amount of salt in the beginning and add the remainder later).
- Beans are done when they can be easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork. Always test a few beans in case they have not cooked evenly.