June 4, 2008

Beans and Legumes - Basics

Beans and Legumes are a food bargain. They are a good source of protein (combined with rice, wheat or corn, they are a complete protein) as well as calcium, vitamins A and C, Thiamine, potassium, iron and fiber.
There are many varieties of beans and legumes. Lentils, soybeans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, great northern beans, kidney beans, Lima beans, black eye beans, black turtle beans, red beans, small white beans, navy beans, pink beans, dry split peas, and dry whole peas.

There are four ways to cook dry beans:
Overnight soak: Sort through and remove any discolored legumes and rocks; rinse well and drain. Cover with water at least 1 inch above the legumes and soak overnight. Cook the next morning by discarding the soaking water and adding beans to fresh water. For each pound of dried beans, add 6 cups of hot water. (1 c beans to 3 c water) Boil the water and then add the beans, boil gently uncovered (adding water if necessary) until tender. (1-2 hours) Yield 6-7 cups of cooked beans per pound of dried beans.
Quick Soak: Bring cleaned beans and water to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from pan from the stove and allow beans to stand for 1 hour in the covered saucepan. Rinse beans and discard the water. Cook the same as the overnight soak method.
Crock Pot: Add unsoaked, clean beans and water to crock Pot. Place on High setting for 3-4 hours or low overnight. (smaller beans cook faster)
Pressure Cooker: Follow the directions that came with the pressure cooker; generally 3 c of water to 1 c beans, bring to full steam, cook for 30 minutes.
Beans can be ground into flour. This is a very good way to use very old beans. Add the flour in small amounts to any recipe. Can be used to thicken gravies, soups and sauces. Beans in this form are easier to digest

Sprouting Beans: Sprouting beans before they are cooked will give you much more nutrition and less gas. After the sprouts are 1 inch long, they must be refrigerated or they will spoil.
Helpful Hints: 1. Add salt if needed the last 10 minutes of cooking never before. 2. Add a tablespoon of butter to prevent foam from forming. 3. Acids slow down cooking time for beans, add tomatoes, vinegar, etc when beans are tender. 4. Lentils and split peas do not need to be soaked. 5. Beans can cause gas. To cut down on this problem, add 1 teaspoon of meat tenderizer into cooked pot of beans. Or try Beano. (they aren't called a magical fruit for nothing)

Dried Beans are 1/2 the cost (or less) of Canned Beans:
Canned: One 15 oz can prepared beans costs around $1.00 or around $0.50 if you shop sales.
1 lb (2 cups) of dry beans will make 6 to 7 cups of cooked beans (equivalent to
four 15oz cans of beans.)
1 lb (2 cups) of dry beans is about $1.60 or $.75 cents if you buy in bulk.
equal to $.20 to $.40 cents per can - compare to $1.00 per can already prepared!

Storing Beans:
Beans store well in 5 gallon buckets, #10 cans, or Mylar bags. Pick what works best for your food storage situation.
Kept air tight and bug free in a cool dark place, dried beans will last a long time. Canned beans will last about 2 years.

How to make your bean storage accessible (so you can use it!):
1. Do not expect to go through the whole cooking dried beans process every time you need a cup of beans. It will take too long, and you will never do it.
2. Be efficient - cook up a bunch of beans (1 or 2 lbs) and divide them into quart freezer bags (1 ½ to 2 cups ea) and put them in the freezer. (1 lb dried = 4 quart bags frozen)
3. Lay them flat to freeze, then when frozen they can be stood on end to save room.
4. To use, just run under cool water.
5. Add to recipes just like you would use canned beans.

1 comment:

Tam said...

What great info! I love it. You don't by chance know how to bottle beans? I wonder if it's very hard. We love beans at our house! ALL kinds!