Preparing Dried Beans

The other day I picked up a package of sausage on the manager markdown for $1.50 and decided it would be perfect in a beans and rice dish.  I had yet to experiment with any type of “bean” recipe unless you count chili or soups and since my mother-in-law had given me several bags of dried beans to use recently, I decided I had enough incentive to dig around for some new recipes.

Although using canned beans is extremely convenient and quick when throwing dinner together in a pinch, it does hit your wallet pretty deep over time.  One pound of dried beans cost around $1 each.  This is roughly the equivalent of 4 15-ounce canned beans which cost anywhere from $0.75-1.00 each.  So one bag of cooked beans would save you approximately $2-3.  If you continued to replace four cans of beans with dried beans every week you would save $104-156/year!  That’s crazy!!!  With the way all the grocery prices are going up, I’m sure your savings will actually increase over time.  It is worth the extra little effort in order to save the family more money and cut out all that extra sodium you get when eating the canned beans.

*NOTE:  I cooked a total of 4 pounds of beans and ended up getting exactly 20 C. equal to 10 15-ounce cans.  The calculations above are if 1 pound equals 4 cups.  Mine only made 2.5 cups per pound, but it still means I saved $7.50-10.00 total since the beans were given to me at no cost.  At cost I still would have saved $3.50-6.00. 🙂

Here’s how to prepare your beans for the freezer instead of relying on the convenient canned variety…

1)  Rinse and pick your beans.  You will need to remove any pieces of gravel, grit or even rotten beans from the bunch. (I found the most pieces of gravel in the black beans!)   After you’ve done that, place beans inside a colander and rinse all the processing dust off of them.

2)  Quick Soak.  Bring beans to a boil for 4-5 minutes, then let soak, covered, for 1 hour.  This cooking time will make them more tender when you get them out of the freezer.  Kidney beans need to boil for a minimum of 5 minutes to kill naturally occurring toxins!  Use plenty of water and DON’T add salt!

3)  Drain beans.  After soaking the water will probably take on the color of whatever bean you are cooking.  Remove all the beans that float to the surface then drain water.

4)  Package in quart-sized freezer bags.  One 15-ounce can of beans contains approximately 2 C. of beans.

5)  Put your beans in the freezer.  Try to lay them flat, so they’ll stack easily and also so they’ll break up easily when you want to get them out of the bag.

6)  When it’s time for a meal – use the frozen beans just like the canned beans.

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