Some people wonder if there is a point to making beans from scratch. After all, it is so much easier to just open up a can of beans. Yes, there is a point. Canned beans contain lots of preservatives and enough sodium to give an ox a heart attack. Beans from scratch, however, contain no preservatives, only as much salt as you put into them, are fresh and taste better. Plus, they are super easy to make. For the purpose of this article we will use kidney beans, any shade of red. Some beans take less time to cook and others take a little longer to cook.
Picking Out the Bad Beans and Soaking the Good Ones – Measure 2 cups of beans and lay them out on a towel so that you can see each one. Pick out dried and tired-looking beans, the ones that are discolored, rocks and other debris. Throw these away. Measure out three times the amount of water – which in our recipe is 6 cups of water since we are using 2 cups of beans. Place the beans in the water to soak. Use either a container with a top, a pot with a lid or even a bowl with plastic wrap of foil to cover the beans and water. Allow the beans to soak for around 8 hours – overnight should do the trick. After 8 hours, or in the morning when you wake up, drain the beans and rinse them. Why soak beans? Soaking the beans cuts down the amount of time the beans need to cook, especially if you do not have a pressure cooker.
Cooking Beans in a Regular Pot – For every cup of beans, add 3 cups of water. Place beans and water in a pot with a lid. Season the beans (salt, pepper, garlic and a few bay leave are great, some people also like to flavor their beans with a ham hock or some bacon) and bring up to a boil. Then lower the heat and allow the beans to simmer until they are tender, around 1 1/2 hours. You will have to keep adding a little water (as the steam makes it disappear) so that the beans are always covered. Since you are adding water, you will also have to season beans a couple of times while cooking.
Cooking Beans in a Pressure Cooker – Just like in a regular pot, you need to add 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans. Season the beans, place the lid on the pressure cooker and lock it into place. Bring the heat to a high for about 20 minutes. Then turn off the pressure cooker and allow the pressure to lower on its own for about 15 minutes. Allow the beans to cool off and you are good to go.
Eat Your Beans, They’re Good For You – Beans are packed with nutrition. According to Duke University, beans can reduce risk of strokes and heart disease and can help prevent some types of cancers. They are filled with vitamin B, have no cholesterol, have lots of fiber, are a good source of potassium, help relieve constipation and are filled with complex carbohydrates.
Bean Recipes to Try – The internet is filled with bean recipes; one only has to type “beans recipes” into Google and a million sites pop up. If the thought of eating beans all the time is a little daunting at first, try adding them to your diet in unobtrusive ways such as beans mixed into ground beef for tacos or beans added to vegetable soup. In time, beans made from scratch will become one of your favorites.
Bean Cooking and Recipe Links:
University of Nebraska – Lancaster: Cooking Dry Beans from Scratch CAN be Quick!
All Recipes: Bans and Legumes
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