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Posted by on Jul 14, 2012 in Store-bought Remix, Try Something New | 0 comments

Black Beans (from Scratch!)

I’ve had a bag of dried black beans in my pantry for probably a year now. I thought that little project (cooking beans from scratch) would be a perfect next step on my store-bought remix mission. I kept putting it off because it seems like a long time commitment, but it’s totally hands-off (hello, I was sleeping while they cooked) and so worth it!

Well, I finally tried it last weekend. Thanks to my trusty crockpot! See that method here.

Here’s the recipe I used, minus the green pepper because I didn’t have any. I kept willing Neighbor Frank to bring some over just as I needed it, but that didn’t happen. It is really flavorful and delicious! I highly recommend it.

A few tips I learned:
+I didn’t use enough water. By the time I woke up, all of the water had been absorbed, and things were smelling a little crispy. I just added about 4 more cups of water and let it go for a couple of more hours. There are probably a few underdone ones in my mix from the top of the pile, but they’re definitely still good. 9-10 cups as directed in the crockpot bean preparation recipe is a better bet. I used way less because I only put enough to cover by an inch and a half like the pressure cooker recipe says. Duh! My beans probably cooked for 10 total hours (8 overnight + 2 extra in the morning).

+ I’ve heard the longer you store dried beans, the longer they take to cook. I’m not sure if this is true but beware …and don’t put it off as long as I did.

+You don’t get the unpleasant side effects as with canned beans: the one we all know that has to do with digestion and HIGH sodium. Sometimes I feel like I need to drink a gallon of water after eating chili made with canned beans. Always drain off the cooking water (and rinse your canned beans until they don’t froth), to minimize that first issue 😉

+The thing with canned beans is their on-demand handiness. So to mimic this, I froze 1 cup portions in plastic zip baggies so that I could grab them whenever I need to (see photo above). So far, this is working great. They thaw out enough to add to another recipe after about 30 seconds in the microwave or they can be thrown in the fridge overnight or into a lunch box until lunch time with fine results.

+Black beans will leave a ring around your crockpot like nobody’s business. Even if you soak it and scrub it and run it through the dishwasher…bummer. A little more elbow grease should do the trick!

+You have to sort your dried beans before they’re cooked. Apparently, they can have pebbles in them…not sure where those come from, but I swear I picked a few out. You want to look for any misshapen beans, any particles that don’t belong, and any beans that aren’t whole. I used a cookie sheet so I could lay them out flat and processed through the bag in about 4 batches. From the cookie sheet, I transferred them all over to a colander (make sure your holes are small enough so you don’t lose any beans) to give them a good rinse.

Next up, dried lentils. Wish me luck!

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