Thursday, May 8, 2014

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit!

Beans are an excellent source of protein, and are very filling.  I think they get a bad rap because of the resultant gas that comes.  But people who eat these high fiber foods regularly will find that their body will adapt to the change in diet over time.  I have heard that if you put a potato in the pot when cooking, it will absorb some of the gas.  But I haven't actually tried that, so if you do it, comment and let me know how it worked.  Beans are a great food, and can be used in many ways.

What I want to emphasize about beans is that they are far cheaper to buy dry, in bulk, than already cooked in cans.  It does take a little more effort to cook dry beans, but you can save a lot of money by buying dried.  Think about the poor countries of the world.  What do they eat most?  Rice, and beans.   If you want to save money, eat like people who don't have much money.

The key to cooking beans is to soak them overnight.  Rinse the beans, making sure there are no rocks or other debris.  Put them in a large pot and cover them with water.  I usually have at least 3 inches of water above the beans.  They really soak up the water.  Leave them overnight.  See how simple that is?  Just pour the beans in a pot and cover with water and let them sit on the counter.  The soaking happens while you sleep, so no work involved there.

There are two different ways to cook beans.  You can boil them in a pot on the stove, or you can use a pressure cooker.  Obviously the pressure cooker is faster.  But if you are spending the evening watching television, you can let them simmer away while you are doing other things.  Just be sure to check them occasionally to make sure they are still covered with water (add more if it boils down), and that they aren't boiling over.  I would suggest cooking them about 1 1/2 hours in the pot, or about 45 minutes in the pressure cooker.  Just cook them until they are tender.  If you use the pressure cooker, be sure to not open the lid until it has cooled down.  Also, before cooking, pour off the water they soaked in and add new water.  This does help them to create less gas.

Now here is the real trick about beans.  When you prepare your beans, prepare more than you want to use.  I usually prepare quite a bit.  I fill my pot half full of beans, and then fill it up with water.  After the beans are cooked, let them cool, then put them in ziplock bags and put in the freezer.  Beans freeze very well, and then you have beans already ready for when you want to make dinner.

Look for my next post about making refried beans!

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