Dried beans are the pantry staple food. But most of us find ourselves reaching for canned beans because well, convenience, and also because cooking dried beans seams like such a daunting task. But trust me on this one, it's actually one of the easiest meals to make. AND beans are so good for you. They have tons of nutrients, are packed with plant-based protein, and fit any diet (they are vegan and gluten-free). So, let me show you just how easy it is to cook dried beans.
Dry Beans vs. Canned Beans
Dry beans vs. canned beans, which is better? This is the million dollar question. To be honest, I prefer eating beans cooked from its dried version vs. from a can. Here's why
- Full control. A lot of canned beans are really high in sodium and are even sweetened. Cooking your own beans from scratch means you control what goes into them.
- Flavour. This is also related to controlling what is in your beans. Cooking your own means you can decide how to season your beans. Like them spicy? Add some chilli powder. Like them with a tomato base? Add some tomato paste. You have endless options here.
- Texture. You determine the texture of your beans. If you like your beans to be very firm, then you cook it until the desired texture is reached. If you like super, mushy beans, then keep cooking until your beans get to that point. With canned beans, you are stuck with the texture that they come in, and usually they will not be firm.
- Pride. Bottom line, it's just so much more satisfying when you make your own beans from scratch. And they just taste better. Plain and simple.
Do You Need to Pre-Soak Dried Beans?
Yes, yes, yes! Pre-soaking the beans for at least 8 hours will allow the beans to absorb moisture and increase in size, and in turn will make them cook faster. Most beans will cook in 45 minutes when pre-soaked. If you don't pre-soak, expect it to take over 2 hours to cook.
The exception to the general rule are lentils and split peas. You don't need to pre-soak them overnight, but I do recommend soaking them for 10 minutes in hot water.
How to Pre-Soak Dried Beans
- pick them over to remove any small stones or debris that may be hiding in your beans.
- pre soak the beans for at least 8 hours or overnight. This will cause the beans to absorb moisture and increase in size, and in turn will make the beans cook faster. Note: lentils and split peas are an exception. They do not need to be pre-soaked overnight.
- soak with baking soda to remove the gassiness from the beans and make them easier to digest.
How to Cook Dried Beans
Once your beans have been pre-soaked, you are ready to cook them with sautéed onions and garlic, salt and pepper, and other seasonings (if desired). The steps are simple:
- In a large pot, sauté onions, garlic, and turmeric.
- Stir in water, pre-soaked beans, salt and pepper, and seasonings (optional).
- Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.
- Season with more salt and pepper (to taste) and serve over rice with some fresh herbs on top, or with a biscuit or dinner roll on the side.
How to Store Cooked Beans
Beans reheat really well and make amazing leftovers. They also freeze really well. In fact, frozen beans will pretty much taste the same as they did on the day that you made them. So I never cook a small batch. I prefer to double up the recipe and freeze any extras for a rainy day.
Store them in a sealed container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, or up to 3 months in the freezer. To defrost and eat, thaw the beans in the refrigerator and then reheat for a few minutes in a saucepan. T
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