Since I am a vegetarian you might suspect that I eat a lot of beans. I do. I really like beans. They are versatile, full of protein and fiber and inexpensive. I can use them for chili, tacos, in pasta dishes, with quinoa, or “meatballs”. They are by all accounts an extremely versatile food.
I used to rely on canned beans. I am a busy lady and canned beans provided me with a nice measure of ease and convenience. Then my war on sodium happened and I realized that canned beans were a huge contributor to going over my daily sodium intake goal. (The guideline I use is 2300 mg.)
My husband had been trying to convince me for months to start making beans from dried. Who has time for that, I would say? He said he would do it as long as I gave him enough notice. While I appreciated his offer of help, I knew that his was a system that would not work well in the future.
Then another alternative appeared. Cooking beans, one pound at a time, in the crock pot and freezing them. Genius!
At the time, I didn’t own a crock pot. So the first step was getting one. We purchased a Crockpot. It’s simple, no frills but works perfectly.
Then I purchased the dried beans. One pound each of kidney beans, black beans and chickpeas. One pound of dried beans can typically be purchased for about the same price as one can. One can is typically about 1 and a half cup of beans. A pound of dried beans will yield about 4 to 5 cups cooked beans. Talk about getting more bang for your buck.
I found the instructions on how to cook the beans on the web site for Iowa State University from their Food Science and Nutrition Dept. Here is the process for the “tootless” crock pot beans:
- In a large pot, heat 10 cups of water to boiling.
- Add cleaned dry bean, boil 2-3 minutes (blanch).
- Remove from heat, cover and let stand 4-16 hours (soak).
- Drain, discard soak water, rinse beans with fresh, cold water.
- Pour beans into crock pot, cover with fresh water and cook on low setting for 8-12 hours.
And that is it! So easy. I made all 3 types of beans I purchased and I have to say the chickpeas turned out the best. I think I let the kidney and black beans cook too long. They aren’t has hardy as the chickpeas so I would recommend staying closer to that 8 hour cook time. Post cooking I simply let cool, put in freezer bags and stored in the freezer. Now when I need beans I just defrost what I need.
I love it! I always have beans on hand, I saved money and it helps keep my sodium consumption under control. Give it a try and tell me what you think! If you need a good recipe try my Black Bean Quinoa Salad.