We all know that beans are economical, but not all beans are created equal. Dried beans are so much more economical than canned beans. They’re also easier to store.
Dried beans swell up to nearly 3 times their size when they get soaked in water.
That’s the exact same container of beans! See how much bigger they get!
I find that pinto beans swell the most, making them the cheapest bean. Sadly, they’re not the best bean ever. They’re what I think of as common beans. I really like garbanzo beans/chickpeas, but not only are they more difficult to find dried, but when you do, they’re about 3 times more expensive. They’re also harder to mash. Unless you have access to a blender or prefer them whole (I puree most of my beans to make them more versatile), they’re almost not worth it. Garbanzos are a high maintenance bean.
So how do I prepare my beans? With dried beans, preparation is fairly important. Yes, you can just hard boil dried beans right out of the bag, but while that will definitely accomplish the goal of filling the stomach, it isn’t the best way to go about cooking dried beans. It’ll take longer, and it’ll make people fart more.
Speaking of, let’s not beat around the bush. Beans often make people fart. I don’t like eating beans that I haven’t made for this reason. If I eat beans (and I really like beans), I fart for hours. Loudly. It’s embarrassing. But I found a trick to fix this.
When I prepare my beans, I soak a pound (about 2 1/2 cups) in a lot of water. I use 3-4 times as much water because they blow up so much. Then I add 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar to the water per pound of beans. This takes the farts out. Once I began adding ACV to my soaking water, I could eat all the beans I wanted and not fart (which is good since beans help the skin rejuvenate). Then I let the beans soak in that water overnight- or at least 8 hours if I start soaking them in the morning.
The next day, I drain off the extra soaking water and cook the beans in fresh water in my pressure cooker. I don’t like to just boil them in a pot, because they can actually harm skin tissue if they aren’t cooked hot enough.
This is only a long arduous process if you’re trying to plan out what to eat and when to begin soaking beans. What I do is I cook a bunch of beans at once and then freeze jars/containers of servings of beans. If you don’t have the freezer space for this, you can also can your beans to make them shelf stable. Having cooked beans on hand means cooking with dried beans is as easy as grabbing a jar or a container and dumping it into a pot.
Here’s a bonus tip: I also don’t buy those 1 lb bags of beans. It’s cheaper to buy a bulk bag of beans. Then I divvy them up. In my store, they sell 8-lb bags of beans. So I got an 8-lb bag and divided it into 8 jars. Voi la! 1-lb containers of beans.
Also, in America, we tend to view beans as savory. Don’t get me wrong, I love using beans in my meals. In Asian countries, beans are also used in lots of desserts. Recently, I substituted pinto beans and made adzuki bean paste. My husband wasn’t a fan, but I loved it. I also love making pinto/black bean brownies and putting chickpeas in my cookies (How do you think they came up with chickpea flour for gf folks). Beans are a good flour substitute, they lower they caloric load and the glycemic index of food, and they add fiber and protein.
I also keep multiple kinds of beans on hand. A while back I assumed a bean was a bean and pinto beans could substitute for anything. Oh, how naïve I was. Now, I keep pintos, garbanzos, and lentils (technically not a bean, but whatever) on hand. Currently, I also have a bag of soy beans. I haven’t used them for anything but my soy sauce, but if I do end up finding another use for them, I’m sure I’ll begin keeping them on hand. They remind me of chickpeas, but they’re easier and cheaper to source, and they mash easier. Plus, they look easier to grow. I may begin using soy beans rather than chickpeas, but that remains to be seen. (Also, that M company is something to think about, but that’s a different post)
Beans are wonderful! All kinds of beans! Eat more beans!