Prepare Dried Beans from Scratch

Have you ever considered cooking dried beans from scratch? It can be a quick and easy process! All it takes is a little planning ahead for time to soak the beans and then time to cook them. Cooked dried beans are an inexpensive way to add protein and fiber to your diet. A half cup of dry beans, cooked from scratch, cost about 17 cents compared to 50 cents for a half cup of canned beans.

Black beans, great northern beans, navy beans and pinto beans are four of the 9 common types of dried beans available in US supermarkets. There are two very easy steps to follow when preparing dried beans - soaking and cooking. Soaking the beans allows the beans to absorb water which dissolves the starches that can cause discomfort. Cooking the beans softens them even more, making them easier to digest.

Follow one of these easy methods:

Soaking Beans (Lentils, split peas and black-eyed peas do not need to be soaked)
Clean: Rinse beans in cold water. Remove all that are discolored or shriveled, and pick out any foreign materials.

Quick Soak or Hot Soak Methods: Using a large pot, add 10 cups of water for each pound (2 cups) of dried beans. Heat to boiling and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let them soak for 1 hour (Quick Soak). Soak up to 4 hours for the Hot Soak method.

Traditional Overnight Soak: This may be the easiest method. Fill a large container with 10 cups of cold water for every pound (2 cups) of beans. Cover and put in refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

After soaking beans, rinse with cold water and drain.

Cooking Beans: Using a large pot, cover your beans with cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover the pot and simmer gently until they are tender but firm. Test for doneness by tasting or mashing a bean against the side of the pot with a spoon. Most beans will cook in 45 minutes. Some may take up to 2 hours. Refrigerate cooked beans until they are ready to be used. Cooked beans should be frozen within 4 days.

Use your cooked beans in a variety of dishes: soups, salsas, salads, chili and more. If you are short on time or want to prepare a dish without soaking the beans, canned beans also work well.  Be sure to rinse off the beans to wash away some of the extra salt. Try mixing beans with your favorite greens for a delicious side dish. See the EatSmart Greens and Beans recipe for step by step instructions.

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