Ah, the humble bean. So here we have a budget-friendly vegetable protein with great fiber, vitamins and minerals, no cholesterol or saturated fats, with a low glycemic index. Mix with a grain and you have a complete protein that can replace the protein in meats yet is economical enough to feed the masses.
But why use dried beans instead of canned? Because they’re about one-third the cost of canned beans, they taste better, have more nutrition and less sodium. Canned beans should be in everyone’s pantry for those times when you need convenience but for beans that taste so good you don’t want to share them with the kids; read on.
How shall I buy the beans, oh Diva? Buy them at the grocery store but compare prices with the ethnic foods aisle before you buy. Check out “healthy food” stores and don’t forget the large-sized bags at Costco. If a large bag seems excessive, share with a frugal friend. Ethnic markets often have great deals on beans so check Hispanic, Asian and Indian markets.
But aren’t dried beans a pain in the can to prepare? Not really. You just need to plan ahead a little. You’ll need a little time to clean, soak and cook the beans but it’s easy work. I call it monkey work, no offense to any monkeys reading this. It’s mindless stuff you can do while you’re on the phone with your Mom.
The Three Steps to Perfect Beans.
Step One: Cleanliness is next to Beanliness. Pour the beans out on a baking sheet, discard any discolored, split or cracked beans and remove any rocks, dirt or other debris. They are an agricultural product and dirt happens.
Step Two: Soak – decisions, decisions! There are two ways to soak your beans: overnight soak or quick soak. Soaking beans allows them to rehydrate before cooking. In general, the larger the bean the longer they need to soak and the longer they soak the faster they cook. Another reason to soak, as the beans absorb water they begin to dissolve the starches that cause musical distress. I know, rocket science, right?
Overnight Soak – This is my preferred method. Place one pound of beans in a large bowl and add 8 cups of water. Stick it in the fridge at least 8 hours or overnight.
Quick Soak – If you forgot to soak the beans last night don’t despair! Place one pound of beans and 12 cups of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil on the stovetop for 1 minute then remove the pot from the heat and cover for two to four hours.
Step Three: And now, we cook. Bring the beans to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the beans are tender.
Diva Tip – the liquid left over from soaking beans is an excellent, flavorful addition to soups. The starch left behind after cooking gives the liquid a lovely texture perfect for adding to any thin soup. Not to mention adding vitamins and minerals removed from beans during cooking. Why waste that?
Frugal Food contributed by Patti Diamond from Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! www.divasonadime.com Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.