Current Essentials:

8 Jul 2017

The Art of Dried Beans

For quite some time I've been saying I would rather use dried foods than canned, for some obvious reasons pertaining to health side effects and natural choices. Nothing brings out my old person like a day at Wholefoods or Bulk Barn picking out dried goods and whole grains. But when we moved to Colombia again, there wasn't really any other choice. There is significantly less canned and preserved produce here (which is great) but I had to recall the work, or should I say art, that came with cooking this way.

There are a lot of benefits to dried goods – less preservatives, less waste, less manufacturing, and if you didn't already know a lot less cost. Pertaining to beans, they just come as they are and you can get a bag consisting of 3x more beans for the cost of single canned serving. You don't have to wonder or worry what's gone into assuring a 2, 3, maybe more, year shelf life either.

But dried goods come with some effort. If you're a last minute kind of decision maker, well, all the best to you but that's not going to happen. Nightly, we choose a bean or selection for the following day (lunch or dinner) as the quickest soak time, aside from lentils that don't require pre soaking, is about 8 hours with some beans needing much more. We decide the day before what we want to eat and go about our "bean routine" if you will. Even Rheo has come to know the drill (see below).

Firstly, these are straight from the farm so there are bound to be imperfections. Choosing first the desired amount, we then pick through them for ones that don't look quite right, rocks and stones, even little bugs (ew, I know but they're usually ant-like and already dead if that makes it any better).

After sifting through to weed out anything we would rather not eat, we rinse the beans THOROUGHLY. Like I said, these are straight from the earth people. They're d-i-r-t-y. We rinse them, a couple times over before putting them in the pot and covering them with cold, unsalted water for soaking (2 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans). When they're done soaking, which is usually the next day, they also need cooking which generally takes about another 1-2 hours.

More accurate soaking and cooking times for our more frequently used beans:

Black Beans, 4-6 hours + 45 minutes or more.
Chickpea, Kidney, Pinto: 8-12 hors (or overnight) + 90 minutes-2 hours.
Lentils: check the directions on bag, I usually just cook but some require a 1-2 hour soak.

From there, the possibilities are endless (not to mention high in fibre, protein, and savings). 
You can find a bunch of my favourite bean recipes here, and I hope you enjoy.


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