Monday, July 6, 2015

the poverty luxe kitchen vol. 15: how to make beans (with or without a crock pot)

fun fact: unless i absolutely cant avoid it, i never buy beans in cans. yeah, i know, im that mom. i actually wrote a pretty in-depth post about all the reasons why i do this about a year ago (you can read all about it here) but it was right around the time i was really floundering with this while blogging thing and i never got around to posting about how i go about making our homemade beans. 

which ended up being a great thing, because at the time i pretty much only made beans in my crock pot. in my opinion, this is by far the easiest method, BUT its the slowest, and it takes a little bit of advanced planning. something that i havent been so great at since ive been pregnant, in school, and parenting a toddler all at the same time. so over the last few months, ive actually learned some different methods of cooking dried beans. 

and today im going to share them all with you, right here in one post, so that you can easily decide which bean-cooking method will work best for your current bean needs without having to scour the internet for individual recipes (something ive had to do, oh, every time ive forgotten to soak the beans). so here we go, three different ways to make beans at home (that i have personally used multiple times and can totally vouch for): 

note: all of these methods are for cooking one pound of dried beans (approximately two cups, in case you buy them in bulk), and yield approximately eight cups (four cans worth) or cooked beans. 

1. in a crock pot: 

like ive already mentioned, this way is my favorite because even though the time commitment is the longest, its the most passive. also, because the crock pot regulates its own temperature, there is no possibility of anything getting burnt (maybe its just me but i often have a problem keeping a close eye on things for hours). heres how you do it: 

rinse beans and soak them overnight in a large bowl covered with AT LEAST two inches of water. 

in the morning, drain off the soaking water, rinse beans again and transfer them to the crock pot, again covering with at least two inches of water, salt (dont forget the salt at the beginning, its very important!), and any other seasonings you might want to use (obviously this will depend on the type of beans that youre making and what youll be using them for). 

set your crock pot on low and cook the beans for approximately six hours, checking occasionally to adjust seasonings and avoid over-cooking. 

drain and serve. 

2. on the stove: 

like using the crock pot, this method also requires an overnight soak, however unlike the crock pot method, its quite a bit faster and doesnt take up all our counter space. this is the method im most likely to use if i remembered to soak the beans but i didnt remember to get them in the crock pot first thing in the morning: 

rinse beans and soak them overnight in a large bowl covered with AT LEAST two inches of water. 

in the morning, drain off the soaking water, rinse beans again and transfer them to a large pot or dutch oven with a well-fitting lid, again covering with at least two inches of water. add salt and any other seasonings you may want to use. 

bring the beans to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. cook beans, stirring (and checking for flavor/done-ness) occasionally until tender (depending on the type of beans this may take up to three hours). 

drain and serve. 

3. in the oven: 

this is the method that im most likely to pull out in an emergency, (and by "emergency" i mean "i forgot to soak the beans the night before") because it doesnt require soaking. yes, you can totally make beans without soaking them overnight first. the only reason i put this method last, honestly, is because it does involve having the oven on for a long time, which i tend to try and avoid in an apartment as small as ours. however, it is still a fantastic way to cook beans: 

preheat your oven to 250 degrees. 

rinse beans and put them in a large pot or dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid and cover with at least two inches of water. add salt and any other flavorings that you desire. 

bring the pot to a boil on the stovetop, then cover and place in the oven for 45 minutes - 1 hour. stir, check for flavor and done-ness, and continue to cook until tender (another 20-30 minutes). 

drain and serve. 

so there you have THREE different ways of cooking dried beans and taking advantage of all the benefits they have over canned beans. 

do you make beans at home? whats your favorite method? 

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  1. I often forget to soak beans the night before and I would much rather use dried beans instead of canned. About a year ago I read on a website (can't remember the name) that said beans could be cooked in the crockpot on high for three hours without soaking. It works, think of a dish at breakfast time that uses beans and put them in the crockpot on high and they will be done by lunch time. This is my usual method of cooking beans now.

  2. ooooooh, i never thought of that! i definitely need to try that soon!