Posted on | March 30, 2012 | 8 Comments
Cooking dried beans is not near as intimidating as it’s made out to be. Quite the contrary. While it does take time, hands on time is minimal.
Let’s begin. Start this in the evening. After dinner or shortly before bed works well. Pour a pound or 2 of dried beans into a 5-6 quart slow cooker. Add warm-hot water to a couple of inches from the top of your crock. Put a lid on it. Don’t add anything else to these. Making such a large batch, you don’t know what you’re going to put them in down the road, so worry about seasoning them later when you serve them.
The next morning, strain the water off your beans by pouring into a colander in your sink. Return your beans to the crock & add water, again, to a couple inches from the top of your crock. Before you go to bed, strain the water off again, return beans to the crock, add the same amount of water & set to low.
In the morning, turn off your slow cooker. Strain your beans & rinse with cold water. By rinsing with cold water, your beans will cool quickly & you can freeze them in batches. I typically do 2 cup portions, as this is what most recipes call for. Be sure to do some smaller batches as well (1/2 & 1 cup portions) for sneaky meals & recipes that call for more or less than the standard 2 cups.
That’s it! That wasn’t so hard, now was it?? Now all you have to do is thaw your needed beans for the dish you’re making. Or if you forget to pull your frozen kidney beans out & your chili is already going, you can throw your frozen chunk of beans straight into the pot & they’ll thaw & heat.
Here’s what I like to do, and this takes a few days.
Day 1 pm- start 2 batches soaking in 2 slow cookers. Soak as directed above.
Day 2 pm- start cooking both batches of beans, start soaking 2 more in large, covered casserole dishes.
Day 3 am- 1st batch goes to the freezer, 2nd batch goes into the now empty slow cookers for the last 12-ish hours of soaking.
Day 3 pm- Begin cooking beans overnight.
Day 4 am- 2nd batch of beans goes to the freezer.
My hands on time is still minimal, but by doing it this way, I can freeze 4 types of beans in just a few days, making it easier to grab what we need (red for chili, black for Mexican casseroles, pinto for refried, etc). This also makes the need to cook beans much less often.