Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bean Bags

I use beans a lot.  Beans are yummy and kids like them.  Beans are easy to mush around if you don't have a bunch of teeth yet.  And, beans are cheap... kind of.

I am always playing mental tug of war when I go to buy beans.  On one side is the much cheaper, but also mushier, store brand can of beans and on the other side, the significantly more expensive, but (I hate to admit) superior quality, can of beans.  I realize we are talking under a buck difference, but that can add up quickly, especially when you use them frequently.

I was watching my new favorite cooking show (new to me, not new to existence), 10 Dollar Dinners, and Melissa d'Arabian was cooking with beans.  She buys dried beans, which she cooks, then freezes.  Holy great idea!

I loaded up on dried beans at the grocery this weekend, then spent a few hours today (okay, it was 4, but most of the time is hands off) soaking, cooking and bagging.  I ended up with the equivalent of 16 cans of beans for less than the cost of 4.  Go me.  Next time I will do it when my 10 year old is home.  Bagging the beans will be a great job for her... and less work for me.

How to Freeze Beans
Soak the beans.
I prefer to quick soak mine which means you combine 1 lb. dried beans and 8 cups hot water in a large pot, heat to a rapid boil for 2 minutes, cover and let stand, off heat for 1 hour.  You can also do an overnight soak.  To do this, add 8 cups cold water to 1 lb. beans and let stand overnight or at least 8 hours.
Drain and rinse the soaked beans.
Cook the beans.
Add 6 cups hot water to beans in large pot.  Simmer gently until tender.  This will take 1-2 hours.  Check beans at 15 minute increments after the 1 hour mark and cook until tender, but not mushy or falling apart.
Drain the cooked beans and rinse in cold water.
Bag the beans.
Each pound of dried beans will yield 6 cups of cooked beans.  I freeze mine in 1-1/2 cup quantities which is about the same as 1 can.  Label your freezer bags with the bean type and quantity before you fill them (I know, duh).
Freeze the beans.
Again, duh.

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