There is so much to love about beans.
They are nutritional powerhouses. Not only are they loaded with protein, fiber, and tons of vitamins and minerals; they also reduce cholesterol, control blood sugar, and have anti-cancer properties. (I aim to have at least a cup a day.)
They are widely available and incredibly versatile; you can use them in everything from soups to spreads to salads to sweets.
AND, they are ridiculously cheap.
While canned beans are great for putting a last-minute meal together that’s inexpensive and healthful, dried beans provide even more bang for your buck, financially and nutritionally. Buying dried beans from the bulk section of the grocery store is probably the cheapest food you can buy (which is why I stock up, as you can see above) and the soaking process makes beans’ glorious nutrients more easily absorbable. Plus, there’s no denying that beans made from scratch just taste better. The process may seem time-consuming at first, but once you get the system down, you’ll realize just how easy and convenient it is.
Step 1: SOAK
Pour the dried beans into a large bowl and cover with water. Soak them for at least 8 hours. Dried beans will expand in water so make sure the water covers the beans by several inches. A good time to put your beans to soak might be either at night before bed or in the morning before heading off to work.
Step 2: DRAIN & REFRESH
Drain the beans from the soaking water and transfer them into a large pot. Fill the pot with enough fresh water to cover the beans by at least 3 inches. Note: People often complain that beans make them undesirably musical (if you catch my drift). This is why we soak and drain. Soaking the dried beans in water allows them to release the indigestible sugars that cause people to feel gassy. When you discard the soaking water, you are also discarding the beans’ gas-causing elements.
Step 3: COOK
Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat and cook at a simmer until the beans are tender. See time chart below.
Step 4: STORE
Here’s my favorite part: when the beans are done, whatever you don’t use right away can be stored in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for several months. What I do is make a very large batch of beans and then store recipe-size portions in zip-lock bags in the freezer. This way, they are there whenever I need them and I can get all of the health and cost benefits of making my own beans without having to spend hours ahead of time soaking and cooking them each time I want beans.
BEAN COOKING TIME
Black – 1.5 hours
Black-eyed peas* – 1 – 1.5 hours
Cannellini – 1 hour
Fava, skinned – 1 hour
Garbanzo – 1.5 – 2 hours
Kidney, red – 1 – 1.5 hours
Lentils* – 30 – 45 minutes
Lima – 1 hour
Mung – 1 hour
Navy – 1 – 1.5 hours
Pinto – 1 – 1.5 hours
Split peas, green* – 30 – 45 minutes
* These dried beans don’t need to be soaked beforehand. You can just skip ahead to Step 3.
Read more about the health benefits of beans HERE.