Thursday, May 29, 2014

why you should totally make your own beans (or, the return of THAT mom)

a long, long time ago, back when my blog was terrible and the pictures were always ugly, i posted some recipes for different kinds of beans. in that post i kind of touched on my reasons for using dried beans over canned, but after making the full blown switch to never buying canned beans ever a few months ago, i thought id take a few minutes to elaborate on my reasoning behind this newfound eccentricity. 

because, as youre probably expecting now if youre a regular reader, im like, "oh my gosh homemade beans are the best and i cant believe i ever bought canned beans ever and everybody needs to always make their own beans! did i mention im totally stoked on making beans?" and now everybody else within earshot is like "OMG victoria SHUT UP and just buy your beans in cans like a normal person". 

but i wont. 

and heres why: 

1. theyre cheaper. obviously youd kind of expect this, since, contrary to what the food industry/american culture/michelle obama would like you to believe, fresh whole foods are just about always cheaper than their processed/packaged counterparts. while the price difference in most cases is marginal and id argue that its really a matter of preference/quality/type of recipe (for instance, in the case of fresh broccoli vs. frozen), but with beans, the difference is drastic. a single can of beans is usually about $1-$1.50. a pound of dried beans is about the same price (most dollar stores carry dried beans, so really you shouldnt have to spend more than $1 for a pound of dried beans) and makes FOUR TIMES AS MUCH BEANS. meaning, dried beans are 75% cheaper than canned. thats pretty significant when, you know, youre poor and eat a lot of beans like us. 

2. they taste better. you know how canned beans totally taste like they came from a can? and have that weird, slimy, starchy bean water on them that you have to wash off? well, for obvious reasons, homemade beans dont. and its awesome. 

3. you can totally control how they taste. maybe this is just me being weird and picky, but sometimes even the "plain" cans of beans totally have a flavor and its usually not compatible with what youre trying to make with them. for instance, i can NOT stand if black beans have any sort of caramelly, barbequey taste (which often the canned ones do, even if theyre not "flavored"), especially since usually use black beans for tacos which is NOT an appropriate time for caramelly beans. by making my own, i can always be sure that my beans taste exactly how i want them to. 

4. on a related note, you can control the sodium content. you know how theres "low sodium" canned beans? thats because the normal canned beans are usually totally loaded with salt. on the one hand, i guess this makes them more appealing and shelf-stable, but on the other hand its not so great for blood pressure (and its probably a big contributor to complaint #3). making your own beans lets you use or less or no salt at all so that way you wont end up with a chili that tastes like heart attacks (real thing that actually happened when we first got married because i didnt realize that the beans, the broth AND the seasonings i used were all loaded with salt. it was awful). 

5. its less wasteful. ok, so if you havent picked up on it yet, im really not a big fan of doing things that create unnecessary trash. i know cans are technically recyclable but in our current living situation recyclings not an option (also, its my firm personal belief that not creating waste is FAR better for the environment than any amount of recycling), so NOT throwing away several cans of beans a week (remember, were poor), is pretty cool. plus, with no cans, theres no worrying about BPA or whatever in the can lining (is that a thing people are still worried about?).


6. its not even that hard. im guessing about 95% of you are thinking something along the lines of "MAKE beans? aint nobody got time for that", which i guess on a surface level does seem valid because beans DO need soaked overnight and take a few hours to cook, EXEPT that almost all of that time (except for putting the beans into the bowl to soak and then putting them in the crock pot to cook) is completely passive so its not that difficult. also, if youre not the planning-in-advance-type cook, this method is way faster (and actually easier) than the crock pot. 

as you can tell, im kind of on a big bean-making kick right now, which is totally fine with me because now my freezers filled with rows of recycled glass jars each holding exactly one-cans worth of delicious homemade beans just waiting to be eaten on nights that i dont feel like cooking. which, granted, is most nights these days. 

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