Tuesday Tip! Make Ahead Dried Beans
Dried beans are less expensive than canned beans, but canned beans have the convenience of being ready to eat in minutes. It’s not that canned beans themselves are expensive, but they do usually cost more than dried. Also, canned beans do not come in the great many varieties one can find dried.
To make dried beans more convenient cook up large batches ahead of time and freeze in small portions. I like to do this over the weekend or on any week night when I know I will be staying home. Also, when I cook beans ahead I usually do not add extra spices during the initial cooking, so I have the option to use them in any dish desired in the future.
Soak the desired amount of beans for about 8 hours. This could be overnight, or during the day while at work. After the beans have soak, place them in a pot and add in additional water if necessary to cover by about 1 inch. It’s not necessary to change the soaking water. Bring the beans to a boil. Once they reach a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 1 ½ to 2 hours until soft. Add more water during cooking if needed. You can salt the beans towards the end of the cooking, once they are soft.
Let the beans cool, then divide them into small containers or freezer bags enough for the meal size of your choice. Freeze the beans for up to 3 months.
To use the pre-cooked beans defrost them overnight or during the day in the refrigerator. It will take about 8-12 hours. You can also defrost them in a pan on the stove over medium-low heat or in the microwave if you need them right away. Then proceed with the recipe of your choice.
Even though the beans take a bit to soak and cook, it hardly requires any attention. You’ll have beans at hand whenever you need them.