This post is written by contributing writer, Paula from Whole Intentions.
I love convenience foods.
They’re just so. . . convenient. For example, canned beans – you open the can, rinse off the beans, and plop them into a hot dish. Ahhhh.
But convenience comes with a price tag.
Canned foods (like all processed foods) are known to contain harmful ingredients. Artificial sweeteners, preservatives, coloring, and flavoring are added to make food last longer, look better, and taste better. But some of these additives, like monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame, are carcinogenic, or cancer-causing.
And by now we’ve all heard about the dangers of BPA, not only in plastic, but the lining inside cans of vegetables, fruits, soups, and meats. BPA is an endocrine disruptor. The National Institute of Environmental Health Studies defines that as interfering with the body’s endocrine system and producing adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects. (source)
The convenience price tag is too rich for my blood.
So, what’s a busy mom to do when she’s got a family hankering for baked beans or a steaming pot of chili? A little bit of planning, a few pounds of raw beans, some boiling water, and a special ingredient. Welcome to convenience – a la mom.
How to Batch Cook Soaked Beans
1. First, we begin by soaking our beans. Grandma used to do this. Why? Because soaking beans breaks down complex sugars and makes it easier for your digestion – this is important for anyone with digestive issues such as Crohns, IBS, celiac, gluten intolerance, etc.
Take 2 cups of beans, put them in a pot or large jar and cover them with at least 4 cups of filtered water. (In these pictures I’m soaking 6 cups of beans in a gallon jar and I added more water as they expanded.)
2. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of an acidic liquid (homemade yogurt, kefir, whey, lemon juice, buttermilk, or apple cider vinegar) per cup of water. These acidic liquids aid in breaking down anti-nutrients which is important for digestion.
3. Cover and let sit on the counter for 12-24 hours (even 36 hrs is okay). If you see tiny little sprouts, that’s okay, it’s all part of the process. It happens when soaking grains and nuts, too. The beans will expand A LOT. You’ll want to check on them every so often to make sure they stay covered with water. If they’re peeking out, just add more water.
4. After soaking, drain and rinse the beans until all the foamy scum is washed away. That scum can cause gas, heartburn, reflux, and other uncomfortable digestive issues, so wash them really well. 🙂
5. Pour the beans into a pot, cover with fresh water, bring to a boil, and skim away any additional foam that may come to the top.
6. Turn down the heat to a simmer, add 4 crushed garlic cloves (optional), and cook until the beans are just soft (about 4-8 hours). If you cook them too long they’ll smash together and make bean paste. Not bad, just might not be the result you’re after. 🙂
7. Drain the beans, scoop out about 2 cups and freeze in freezer bags for quick meals at a later date!
Note: If you use soaked beans in place of canned beans in a recipe, use this measurement: 2/3 cup dry beans = 2 cups after cooking = 15 oz. can of beans.
Now all you need to do is grab a bag of beans from the freezer instead of the pantry. Convenient, healthy, and quick!
What are some of your favorite bean recipes?
For more ways to incorporate (and cook) dry beans into your diet, check out Kitchen Stewardship’s Everything Beans Cookbook!
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