Cooking Dry Beans

Growing up, I don’t remember eating a lot of beans. Chili, pork ‘n beans, and ham ‘n beans are about all I can recall. In fact, I don’t know if a black bean ever graced our table. We were much more a meat ‘n potatoes family. (And that worked well for us!) ;)

Little did I know we were missing out on a frugal, healthy source of protein and fiber! Since being married I’ve expanded my bean repertoire, but it never even occurred to me to cook dry beans. Never. (Except for that one newlywed meal mishap that I don’t wish to elaborate on.  Ahem.)  Thanks to all the fabulous information I’ve read on blogs the past couple of years, I now know better.

Cooking your own dry beans eliminates any question of extra sodium or additives, you don’t have to worry about BPA from the can harming your food, and it’s less expensive than buying canned beans.

I haven’t bought a can of beans for so long that I asked my Twitter friends to help me out with a price guess (for black beans):

Looks like the consensus is a little less than a dollar.  The cans have less than 2 cups of beans.

I’m sure if I bought them in bulk I could fare even better, but out here in the sticks that’s just not an option.  I buy 1 pound bags of dry black beans for $1.14.  I can get 5 cups of cooked beans from that one bag.  So… about 3 cans.  Three cans = probably $2.40.  A dry-to-cooked effort = $1.14.  About half price.

And the effort I’m talking about?

  1. Rinse the beans.  (Check real quick for rocks or other debris, but I’ve never seen any.) 1 minute
  2. Soak them overnight in a big pot of water.  (Add a little vinegar to make them more digestible, but I don’t think that’s necessary for black beans.)  1 minute to run the water
  3. Drain the soak water and refill with fresh water.  1 minute
  4. Cook beans until soft, about 2 hours for 2 pounds of black beans.  2 minutes, checking/stirring time
  5. Packaging cooked beans for the freezer.  2 minutes

Effort?  Maybe 7 minutes.  Worth it?  You decide, but it works for me!

Be sure to visit Stephanie’s bean post.  She’s got some good info on the how’s and why’s of cooking your own beans.

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

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Comments

  1. Big thumbs up! I like to cook them in the crockpot, as described here:
    http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/cooking-dried-beans-in-crockpot.html

  2. I love cooking beans myself, the crockpot is the way to go- eliminates a good chunk of the work (checking & stirring).

  3. I have been cooking with black beans more often and I will have to give this a try-thanks!

  4. I went to Walmart today and checked. I didn’t go to Walmart JUST to check, though that’s what it sounded like, huh?

    Anyway, Great Value brand canned beans were about 62-78¢, depending on variety.

  5. It does sound easy but I still buy canned. Lazy…I know:-)

  6. I recently discovered that cooking dried beans can be even quicker than you have mentioned here! I soak them overnight in my crockpot (not turned on), drain them the next morning, pop them back in with more water, turn on low and let them cook all day. By the time I get home, they’re perfectly tender! Simple. Delicious. Frugal!

  7. I just started cooking my own beans, and I love it! I have a freezer full of black beans and chickpeas for less than $3!

  8. We eat lots of beans at our house as they’re such a healthy, frugal food. It’s true, cooking beans is simple, but I find it to be a bit of “chore” after doing it so often, partly because I hate washing pots, and it’s one more pot to wash, and because I ALWAYS get distracted and let the beans boil over. Arg! Then there’s a mess on the stove to clean up too. You’d think I’d learn eventually! :)

  9. I recently started doing the dried bean thing too… and I love it!! Of course, I do sort my beans, so it makes the process a little more painful

    That said, I like that it’s cheaper. I also like the taste. Plus, I don’t usually stock my pantry with multiple cans (small house!), but I like putting them into serving sizes in the freezer and having those on hand.

    Next time, I am going to cook 2 bags. I wish I could find a larger bag to buy without having to get a 20-pound bag. :)

  10. My husband would love it if I made beans more often. He is a huge fan of pinto beans. I am just so uncomfortable with it, though. I might just use this post as encouragement and go ahead and try it again! Thanks. :-)

  11. Amy, thank you for this! Until I read your post, cooking dried beans as opposed to buying canned had never really occurred to me, either! *lightbulb* Ha!
    I am going to give it a try for February’s Freezer Cooking Day. Thanks!!

  12. Pressure cooking the beans will cut down even more on time. I make black beans quite frequently, and they only take 30 min. to pressure cook. Another great way to make dried beans is to toss ‘em in the Crockpot (after soaking overnight) with ingredients for homemade baked beans (Check out Ina Garten’s Maple Baked Beans recipe on Food Network’s website..Fantastic!) and cook on high for about 5 hours or until done and tasty.

  13. We eat tons of black beans and I was just thinking about doing this! Thanks for the info. 7 minutes is worth it! :)

    a

  14. I use my electric pressure cooker and they’re ready, no soaking required, in under an hour. I dump them in with water, an onion, garlic, and a bay leaf, push the timer and start, and come back when it beeps. Can’t get any easier than that!

    I *heart* my electric pressure cooker!

  15. I use dried beans all the time for the cost/convenience benefits but, to be honest, I had never even considered the whole BPA issue. What a fantastic point and just another example of why “doing it ourselves” is almost always cheaper AND healthier. Thanks for bringing that to light!

  16. This is so funny you posted about beans today. I bought beans this week at Kroger and have them soaking on the counter right this minute! I learned to make my own Mexican Style Chili Beans (if you buy the Ranch beans at Walmart, very similar flavor). They are so yummy and so much better for you. We grew up on Soup Beans and cornbread. When money was tight, my momma always cooked up some pinto beans. Very frugal food indeed!

  17. Just wanted to bring up something no one has mentioned. Gas! My husband refuses to eat beans since he works with the public and can’t control the gas. We have tried Beano but to no avail. We love chili beans but can only eat them on vacation days. What does everyone else do about this “gastly” problem?

    • @JulieJ, If you use dry beans instead of canned and soak them overnight before cooking, that makes the beans more digestible and helps reduce gas. In fact, gas is the primary reason people soak beans–it’s not really necessary, otherwise.

    • @JulieJ, The best solution that I’ve know of for gas is one that my Mom taught me. Soak a carrot with the beans, then remove the carrot before cooking! The carrot absorbs the gas, make sure it goes in the garbage! {giggle}

  18. This is a great post. I have cooked dry beans a couple times lately, and it is definitely more economical than buying canned. And they’re so versatile…you can cook up several pounds and once and then season portions differently throughout the week for different recipes.

    When I cook up a pot of beans, we always have them with ham and cornbread the first night, and bean & cheese quesadillas are for lunch the next day. :)

  19. I grew up in a family of Texans, so I’ve been eating cooked-from-dry beans since childhood. My grandfather’s pinto beans were amazing! I think the best thing about cooking dry beans is that you get to choose your own seasonings. Some of my favorites (for black or pinto beans): black pepper, oregano, cumin, and cilantro. I also like to add chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, and a little vegetable broth to the pot. Dump it all in as soon as the beans start to boil, and the flavors really cook through.

    • Seriously… I never even thought to add seasonings while cooking! I just cook them plain then add seasonings when I make separate dishes. Definitely need to try it differently next time!

  20. Oh yes! Thanks for posting this! I too use the crockpot. Soak ‘em overnight and then turn it on in the morning!

  21. You all are so helpful. I like to think I’m a pretty skilled cook, but I’ve had 2 bags of dried beans in the pantry that scare me to death! I’m going to try the crockpot method later in the week. Thanks for the encouragement!

  22. I love your blog and I wanted to comment on this one because I’m from Brazil and I grew up eating beans EVERY single day and I love it. We cook our beans in the pressure cooker (?) for 45 minutes. You don’t need to let overnight in the water. I cooked some pinto beans last week with some spices (garlic power, salt, papikra, sometimes with chicken broth cube it’s great) and BACON!! It was DELICIOUS!

  23. …my sister cooked some in the crockpot with the same spices and Bacon and turned out good too. But pressure cooker(?) is much faster. You can cook a LOT of things in it, but my favorite are BEANS!

    • Can I admit that the pressure cooker scares me? ;) My mom uses it all the time, but I’ve never even purchased one! Maybe I should rethink that…

  24. Hey, linked this post to my blog. Thanks for breaking down the cost!

  25. I love cooking black beans from dry. I like them from the can in a pinch, but cooking them your self is the way to go!

    After you asked about that on Twitter the other day, I had to go back into my last years receipts to see how much they were. The last time I (read husband) bought black beans in a can was August of last year. Last time I bought dry? Yesterday. :)

  26. the only kind of black bean I have ever had has came out of a can and these I just recently starte using prior there was no awarance of these beans at all

  27. I love to cook beans much to DH’s disapppointment. So we make lentils more often instead. Still nutritious but cooks faster. And I like freezing beans too. So nice to have these on hand but not at the canned price!

  28. Cooking beans is just one of those things I am terrible at! It seems so simple and yet my beans never, NEVER, get to the soft state. I’ve followed directions on the package, tried the crockpot method, avoided salting them, overnight soak, quick soak….etc. I even tried last month for my OAMC and they turned out hard. :( Guess I’m “doomed” to buy canned until I can master this. lol

    • So strange! That was my problem with my first attempt at ham and beans, though. HARD beans. Yuck! I still don’t know what happened, but it hasn’t happened since. Maybe it was the type of bean? I have NO idea!

      • Julie,
        I’ve heard somewhere that dry beans can go old and be hard to cook. You might want to change where you’re shopping at. Maybe they have old beans

  29. How do you freeze them? In a glass container?

    • I *should* use a glass container, but I cheat. I use plastic. Any used yogurt/cottage cheese tub works. Just be sure the beans are cooled off before putting them in the plastic.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] for other meals) during Asa’s first nap (which was 2.5 hours, by the way!). I also set out black beans to soak last night and during lunch today I froze the equivalent of 8 cans of beans! I scrubbed the [...]

  2. [...] 9. Giant pot of soaking black beans. (thanks, Amy!) [...]

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