Beans are a staple in my diet and the same goes for most vegans and vegetarians. That is because they are high in protein, high in fiber, low in fat, packed full of nutrients, inexpensive, and versatile.
I recently started cooking and freezing dried beans and I absolutely love it. On paper, it sounds like a lot of work but this is very easy stuff, my Plant Powered Peeps!
1- Buy in bulk
If you have a health food store in your area check to see if they have a bulk section. You can usually buy legumes, nuts, seeds, oats, pastas, rices and more in the bulk section. This saves you money and reduces waste. If they don’t have a bulk section where you shop, NO WORRIES… dried legumes are sold by the pound anyways!
2- Sorting & Soaking
Place the beans in a large bowl or pot, check for any “non bean” items such as stones or debris, and discard them. Cover the beans with warm water. Check on the beans every once in a while. As the beans absorb water, be sure to add more to the pot or bowl. Soak your beans for at least 8 hours, or overnight at room temp.
Boil a pot of water and add the beans so that they are submerged, and simmer for 50 minutes. Different beans have different cooking times, but this is supposed to be easy stuff! Since we are freezing the beans to cook later, I have found that 50 minutes of cooking time works well for all beans, so you don’t have to worry about overcooking them. In the event that you do overcook them (because stuff happens), freeze and store them anyways. You can use mushy beans for dips, spreads, and hummus! Just label them so that you know it’s a mushy batch.
After you have cooked the beans and let them cool, it’s time to package and store them. Measure out a 1 ½ to 2 cups of beans and place in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware, and toss them into the freezer. 1 1/2 to 2 cups of beans is roughly equal to a can of beans.
When you are ready to cook a meal with your frozen beans you can defrost them in the fridge for the day or simply place the frozen bag into a bowl of water for a bit and you’re good to go. I toss the empty Ziploc bags back into the freezer to reuse later.
I realize this looks like quite a process and grabbing a few cans of beans sounds much more doable. However, it really is quite simple and doesn’t require much of you time.
Is it worth it?
I went to my local health foods store and did some comparing!
As you can see, the cost of 1 can of organic beans varied from $1.33 (on sale) to $2.39, the average cost being $1.85 a can. Organic dried beans are about $1.70 a pound.
I purchased 2lbs of kidney beans, 2lbs of garbanzo beans, and 4lbs of black beans.
I soaked, I cooked, I measured, I packaged, and I froze!
2lbs of kidney beans yields about 7 cans.
2 lbs of garbanzo beans yields about 8 cans.
4lbs of black beans yields about 15 cans.
What I spent on dried beans (excluding tax): $13.60
What I would have spent on canned beans (excluding tax): $55.50
Other than financially, is it worth it? I think so!
~ Avoid bisphenol-A, or BPA, a substance that lines most cans.
Check out this recent study that Harvard conducted regarding BPA. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/22/bpa-lurks-in-canned-soups-and-drinks/
~Reduce waste by reusing Ziploc bags and Tupperware instead of recycling all those cans!
~Canned beans are high in sodium; you can rinse the beans to help reduce the amount of sodium intake.
~Dried beans have more flavor and better texture.
There you have it! And as I said before, beans are versatile. I like to add beans to a green salad, make black bean and sweet potato burritos, hummus, chili, garbanzo bean tacos, black bean salsa, bean dips for veggies wraps and bagels, bean patties, soups, felafels, stews, or chickpea curry!!
The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!