I have taken a few vegetarian cooking classes and it never fails, there is always someone in the group who asked the question about cooking your own beans. It is not mystery that buying dried beans is much more economical and you get to control the seasoning and salt that goes into making it. This give you the ability to control the nutritional value of your beans.
I still buy canned beans for those recipes that I do not have time to soak and cook my own beans. I do try, however, to plan ahead and spend a weekend cooking beans to freeze for future use. If you can do this, you will rarely have to buy canned beans anymore and you can save a lot of money by doing so.
So, here we go, an easy way to cook your own beans. It does not matter what types of beans or lentils you choose to cook the steps are essentially the same.
Preparing Your Dried Beans:
For any dried beans or lentils you will want to soak them a minimum of 6 hours to overnight to allow them time to absorb liquid and to “air out” those natural gases that come from beans.
Cooking Your Dried Beans:
I like to cook my beans/lentils in a crock pot because I do not have to baby sit them. I can set them to cook for a specific time, leave the house to enjoy my weekend and come back to a pot of beans ready to be put into a salad, soup, or to be processed into hummus or something else delicious.
- Rinse your soaked beans well
- Place them in your Crock Pot (brand does not matter)
- Fill the crock pot with water to at least 2 inches above the bean level (you can never have too much water)
- Season your beans
- Salt & Pepper
- 2-3 Bay Leaves
- Garlic – 1-2 teaspoon (minced)
- 1/2 Onion (minced)
- Any other spices you are fond of
IMPORTANT: Having adequate water is important because the beans/lentils can burn if they go dry in the crock pot
- Cooking time will differ depending on your timing needs
- Low Heat – Cook 5 – 6 hours
- High Hear – Cook 3 – 4 hours
NOTE: You want to test the softness of your beans about an hour before they are done to make you don’t overcook them
Once done, drain your beans, let them cool before packing them for the storage. Beans freeze well and can easily keep for a month. In the refrigerator, beans are best to be eaten in a week, once they start to smell it is time to compost them.