Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cooking Dried Beans

I found out this weekend how much canned beans cost in comparison to cooking your own. I ran to Wal-Mart in a pinch for a can of kidney beans and discovered the lowest price was $.76 for the store brand. Weren't these just $.50 to $.60 cents a can not that long ago?

I ended up purchasing a can of Bush's kidney beans for $.84 because the store brand had all kinds of extra goodies added, one of which was  High Fructose Corn Syrup.

No thanks. I'll take the plain kind, please. 

I always knew it was considered a better buy to cook my own, but sometimes after doing something for a while, you tend to forget. This was a good reminder to me how much I've been saving by routinely cooking my own beans!

So whether it's cost or health you're thinking of (or both), cooking your own dried beans is a good thing.

The health benefits are obvious: canned beans are higher in sodium and are more apt to have other additives in them. Read your labels! I was shocked the first time I read a label on a can of beans. All along, I had thought that I was getting a pure whole food. Ummm...not so much. Now I check as brands and types of beans vary! And when using canned beans, I make sure to rinse them well!
 As far as cost goes, I recently purchased a one pound bag of kidney beans for $1.39. Once cooked, it yielded 8 cups of beans. Since each 15-16 oz, can contains approximately  2 cups, I got 4 cans worth of beans from one bag.  Each 2 cups cost only $.35 in comparison to the store-bought can for $.76 or $.84 each.

I realize some brands of  dried beans may be even cheaper than the bag I used. Wal-mart's dried beans are less expensive, I know. Pinto beans are usually even more cost effective. So if you're able to get dried beans at a lower price, your overall savings will be much greater!

When cooking beans, I soak them overnight with a bit of  an acidic ingredient (optional) added such as lemon juice or whey to aid in better digestion. Stephanie from Keeper Of The Home has an informative post on cooking dried beans along with soaking instructions and resources here.

In the morning, I drain the soaking water and add fresh water to the beans in a large cooking pot. I turn the beans on high heat. After coming to a boil, I turn the burner to a low to medium heat and let cook until tender, about one hour depending on the kind of bean. Beans such as lentils and split peas cook in a much shorter time!

Several years ago(when I first started cooking dry beans), I found this great article on different methods of cooking beans and a basic list of approximate dry bean yields. I printed the article and put it into my resource notebook. It has been so helpful!

Here's the list:
  • 1 cup dry black beans —–> yields 3-1/2 cups when cooked
  • 1 cup dry kidney beans —–> yields 3 cups when cooked
  • 1 cup dry pinto beans —–> yields 3 cups when cooked
  • 1 cup dry navy beans —–> yields 2-1/2 cups when cooked
  • 1 cup dry Great Northern beans —–> yields 3 cups when cooked
When cooking beans, I plan to make more than what I need and freeze the rest. Beans can be frozen in a small container or in a freezer bag. I prefer using bags as they take up less space. I divide the beans up into 1 or 2 cup portions to use in recipes.

Having the beans in the freezer is almost as convenient as opening a can. They are ready to put into casseroles, soups or to heat up and eat for a quick meal.

Cooking my own dried beans works for me!

**Thanks to We Are THAT Family for hosting Works For Me Wednesday!


Bevy said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Great - informative- post. I've been meaning to give this a try, myself, and I honestly cannot believe I haven't done this ever before.

I need to do this!

thehomespunheart said...

Very informative!

This is something I'd like to explore in my kitchen as well!

DarcyLee said...

I've been cooking beans and freezing them for quite awhile now and I rarely go back to buying canned anymore. Some people in my family think I'm a little crazy for putting so much time and effort into it but it really doesn't take that much time and the more beans I cook and freeze at one time the less I have to do it. Great post!

Mary Ann said...

Bevy and Monica-
So glad you found this post helpful!

Thanks for commenting!

Mary Ann said...

Darcy Lee-
We could form our own "crazy bean-cookers club". hahaha Sometimes I'll cook a couple of pots of beans at the same time when I'm going to be in the kitchen anyways. It really doesn't take that much extra effort. That makes lots of bags of beans in the freezer and will last us at least a couple of months.

Thanks for reading!