In this time of uncertainty, many of us have stocked up on pantry essentials such as beans. They appear to be at the top of many peoples’ list, with recent sales having increased nationwide by about 40% and shelves empty everywhere you go! Not surprisingly, they store well and are known for being an excellent source of plant-based protein and dietary fiber. They have also been shown to play a role in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. Check out the tips below for preparing and enjoying these tasty, versatile, nutritious powerhouses.
Although many people opt for canned, dry beans can be a more affordable alternative. There may also be a greater variety available (especially in stores with bulk foods sections) in comparison to what is canned.
- Sort and rinse 1 pound of dried beans (the average amount in a bag you purchase at the store).
- Dissolve 1.5 tablespoons of salt in 8 cups of cool tap water.
- The salt helps improve the texture, flavor, and appearance, as well as reduces the cooking time.
- Combine the beans and salted water in a large container and soak, uncovered, for 8 hours at room temperature, or longer (up to 24 hours) refrigerated.
- Drain and rinse.
- NOTE: Lentils, do not need to be soaked.
- Add the soaked and rinsed beans to approximately 6 cups of fresh water with ½ teaspoon of salt (optional), and cook via your preferred method – slow cooker, pressure cooker, or stove top.
- The amount of water and cooking time can vary based on your cooking method and the type of bean. Refer to the recipe, package label and/or manufacturer instructions for specific cooking instructions.
- At higher elevations you may also need to increase the cooking time, as most recipes are formulated at sea level.
- Store canned and dried beans in a cool, dark place. Protect from rodents and insects.
- Refrigerate any leftovers within 2 hours and use within 3-5 days.
- Store leftover canned beans in a food storage container and cover with a lid or wrap.
- Beans freeze well in small containers or food storage bags for later use.
With all the different types of beans available , it can be fun to experiment with new recipes and combinations! Maybe your family has some old favorite bean recipes that can be dusted off and enjoyed again, too?!
Here are some ideas to help you get creative in the kitchen:
- Blend beans with other ingredients to boost the nutrition or to thicken sauces or soups.
- Toss cooked beans into salads.
- Drain, rinse and mix together a variety of canned beans, corn, and green or wax beans. Toss with a simple vinegar and oil dressing for a quick and easy multi-bean salad.
- Roast chickpeas for a crisp salad topping or snack.
- Mix beans and whole grains as the base for a homemade grain bowl.
- Make your own bean burgers.
- Think beyond hummus. How about a spicy red lentil dip?