Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Beans and Rice, Rice and Beans

Have you ever tried to cook a bag of dried beans? Did you succeed? Me neither - UNTIL TODAY!

Since I'm so excited about this, and I know that those who've tried and failed in the past are dying to know, let me share my secret:

1) Overnight soak
2) 7 hours in the crockpot on low
3) 2 hours in the crockpot on high

I'm sure there are a thousand combinations that would make this work. When I checked my beans after 7 hours on low, they were still hard and I figured it was another FAIL. I cranked it to high before going to the park in desperation, but stopped by Trader Joe's on the way home and bought canned beans because I thought it was futile. It worked, though! Amazing.

I know - those of you who have not spent half of their lifetime trying to decode this riddle are thinking "Jen, just go get a freaking can of beans". Let me tell you why you should cook them from dried, though:

1) It's cheap - a bag of beans cost $1 and makes almost 4 cans of beans. Try to beat $0.25/can.
2) It's better for you - unless you are buying a few special brands of beans, your cans are coming with a side of BPA. Garden of Eatin' and Trader Joe's are two of a few that sell bpa free cans of beans, but it'll cost you. Only $1.20/can at TJ's, but over $2 for GoE!
3) It's better for the environment - a one pound bag of dried beans equals four cans. Each can ways 14.5oz. So you are trucking almost 4 times the weight around with cans for the same amount of food.
4) It's FASTER - really - it took me about 30 seconds to fill up the bowl with water last night. Another 30 seconds to drain and refill this morning. 15 seconds to taste test at 4pm, but it took me a half an hour to pit stop at the grocery store on the way home to get the cans. And now I have the equivalent of 4 cans to put up for later. Sweet.

By the way, we made vegetarian tacos tonight for dinner. It's our meatless meal of the week. I'm hoping that by the end of the year we'll be up to eating 2 or 3 vegetarian dinners per week. That'll keep room in the budget for Niman Ranch bacon. If you've never had it, go forth, and feel free to lick your fingers when you are done.


Kim February 25, 2011 at 11:43 AM  

Thank you for posting! I didn't realize it would be so hard to make my own beans, until I tried it, made a whole dinner out of it, and we couldn't even eat it. Do you freeze the beans then if you aren't ready to use them all?

Jen February 25, 2011 at 12:55 PM  

Yep, you can freeze the rest - If you divide it into 4, that's basically one can each.

Bexie February 27, 2011 at 1:46 PM  

Thank you!! Beans are the last canned item I just can't get out of my pantry. I will have to try this because DD and I eat a ton of beans and I hate using all those cans. Likewise, I have several bags of sad, opened but hardly used, dried beans.

Kim March 9, 2011 at 7:29 AM  

Ok dumb question-- do you use water in the crock pot too or just the beans?

Jen March 9, 2011 at 7:51 AM  

yes - you want to make sure that it is covering the beans with an inch or more to spare.

also, don't use anything else in the water - it can prevent the beans from softening!

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