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How to Cook Beans

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If you have a frugal grocery budget, you should learn how to cook beans. It's so easy, and there are surprising benefits! Recipe from Real Food Real Deals.

disclosure policyBeans are one of the most affordable protein sources available. High in fiber as well as many essential nutrients, beans are a great staple to include in your meal plan each week. My family loves Mexican food, so I try to keep cooked beans on hand in my freezer at all times. Canned beans are certainly convenient, but I use dried beans instead for several reasons.

Why Bother Cooking Beans from Scratch?

It saves money. At my local Stop and Shop, a 15.5 ounce can of beans costs $.79. This is approximately 2 cups of beans. A package of dried beans at Stop and Shop costs $1.50, and this yields about 8 cups of cooked beans. In this example, a cup of canned beans costs $.40 and a cup of homemade beans costs $.19. The canned beans cost more than twice as much as the homemade beans. If you buy dried beans in bulk, you can get an even better price and this will make the savings more dramatic.

It eliminates unnecessary additives. Before I started reading ingredient labels, I assumed that the only ingredient in a can of beans was beans. Not true. The ingredient list on a can of Goya pinto beans includes salt, calcium chloride “added as a firming agent” and calcium disodium EDTA “added to promote color retention.” This is a typical example of how packaged foods contain extra ingredients in order to manipulate the appearance and texture of the final product. If you cook your own beans, you won’t need any calcium disodium EDTA to keep them looking pretty.

It eliminates gassy side effects. If I haven’t convinced you with the first two reasons to cook beans from scratch, perhaps this one will do the trick. There’s a wonderful sea plant called kombu that you can find in the Asian food aisle at Whole Foods. I’m not a big edible sea vegetables customer, but this is one item that I make sure to keep on hand in my pantry. By placing a small piece of kombu in the water while you soak and cook your beans, you can virtually eliminate the gassy side effects of the beans. As an added benefit, kombu infuses minerals from this sea plant into the beans. Given the amount of beans we include in our meal plans, kombu is worth its weight in gold at my house. If you don’t have a Whole Foods nearby, you can find kombu in an Asian market or buy it online. It costs less than $6 a package, and it lasts a long time because you only use a little piece each time you cook beans.

How to Cook Beans

Beans are so easy to cook. They take very little hands-on time, and there are just a few simple steps to remember. Most beans take between one and two hours to cook, although some may take longer. Be sure to check the package for the correct cooking time. Beans can also be cooked in a slow cooker if it’s easier for your schedule. If you’re cooking red kidney beans, though, you’ll need to boil them for at least 10 minutes to kill a toxin that exists in those beans if they aren’t cooked with high enough heat.

It’s a good idea to keep several kinds of beans on hand in your freezer. I like to freeze plain, unseasoned beans so I can adapt them to different types of recipes. You can use beans for an easy dinner of tacos or chili, or make them into a simple bean salad. Once you learn how to cook beans yourself, you won’t want to go back to the cans and their calcium disodium EDTA.

 

how to cook beans rinse
Rinse the beans and pick out any debris.
how to cook beans soak
Soak the beans in water overnight with a piece of kombu. Then drain and rinse the beans.
how to cook beans simmer
Simmer the beans for one to two hours.
cooked beans
Drain and rinse the beans. Ready to serve!

How to Cook Beans

This tutorial will teach you how to cook beans from scratch.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:5 mins
Cook Time:2 hrs
Soak Time:8 hrs
Total Time:10 hrs 5 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dried beans
  • 1 piece of kombu (1 inch by 2 inches)

Instructions

  • Rinse the beans and pick out any debris. You'll occasionally come across a pebble or chunk of dirt.
  • Soak the beans overnight in water with a piece of kombu. If you don't have enough time, there's an alternate method. Boil a big pot of water on the stove and place the beans in the boiling water for two minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and leave it covered for an hour.
  • Remove the kombu and rinse the beans.
  • Return the beans and kombu to the pot. Fill the pot with fresh water at least an inch above the top of the beans.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer the beans (covered) for 1 to 2 hours. Check the package directions for cooking times.
  • When beans are tender, discard the kombu. Drain and rinse the beans.
  • Store the beans in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for several months.

Nutrition

Calories: 127kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 514mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 3mg
Servings: 12
Calories: 127kcal

 

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14 Comments

  1. What does the kombu do? Also, what is the importance of soaking the beans? I am a first timer, so excuse my many questions!

    1. Anna, the kombu adds minerals to the beans and it helps eliminate the gassy side effects. Soaking the beans minimizes their phytic acid, which is difficult to digest and it gets in the way of nutrient absorption. Soaking also helps the beans to cook more quickly.

  2. Love the kombu tip. That is something I will definitely try since we eat tons of beans. I try to use dry as often as possible. I didn’t even think to freeze them, thanks for that tip too!

  3. I was wondering, I am big on crock potting, on high will it get high enough to kill the toxins? I would probably can these in jars of course after cooking a bunch of them. That is awesome to know about the kombu tip. I can’t eat a lot of beans because it irritates my IBS horribly. Now I can make more cheaper meals :D.

    1. Beth, some slow cookers may bring the beans to a boil, but not all. Different brands go to different temperatures. When making red kidney beans, I’d be safe and use the stove top. It’s not an issue with other beans as far as I know. Good luck!

  4. Annemarie,
    I used ShockinglyDelicious’ slow cooker chick pea recipe plus your kombu tip to make a mess of beans for the hummus I’ve been making lately. Thanks so much for that tip!

      1. Sorry I can’t answer that, Dawn. I don’t have a pressure cooker. I bet an online search would bring up instructions for you.

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