By Catherine Moran
Happy Monday, greenies! Fall is in full swing, with the days getting darker earlier and the chilly nights settling in for the long haul, and I am in baking and slow cooking mode.
In my last post, I talked about using my slow cooker for making apple butter and a variation of the easy recipe. Today, the topic of the day is beans. Dried beans.
Dried beans are not, in fact, evil. Yes, they’re more time-consuming to prepare than the standard opening of a can and the dumping out of the beans, but that’s a small thing. You can think of the extra steps as a bit of a meditation exercise. Also, dried beans are a LOT cheaper to purchase than individual cans. Your wallet will thank you.
You may recall that I like to buy products in bulk. I’ve been expanding my purchase horizons, though am still keeping them relatively simple, and haven’t bought too many bulk items that I don’t know what to do with. Beans have been a relatively simple addition to my normal grocery list of oats and pasta. One of my favorite recipe websites, Oh My Veggies, lays out how to prepare dried beans and freeze them using a slow cooker (my best friend for fall, it seems).
In essence, you cover the beans with water (the following are steps to follow for all dried beans, but see Oh My Veggies’ post for special consideration for red kidney beans). You soak the beans overnight, or for about eight hours or so (note: if you have a larger bowl or container, be generous with the water. The beans will absorb the water, so if you only put in enough water to cover the beans, not all of the beans will soak up enough water).
After the eight or so hours, put the beans in a strainer and give them a quick rinse, then throw them in the slow cooker on high for eight to 10 hours (larger beans will take longer to cook) and cover them with water. You’re practically done! At this point, you can throw in anything to flavor your beans slightly, maybe an onion (I like to add a clove of garlic to my black beans). Then go about your business!
Eight to ten hours later, your beans should be looking pretty darn sexy, and the way beans look when you dump them out straight from the can.
From here, scoop your beans into freezer-safe containers, cover them with more water (enough so that there’s a layer of liquid covering all beans), and pop them in the freezer. If you need them for immediate use, just put them in the refrigerator. Take beans from the freezer out about 24 hours before use (I take mine out of the freezer and place them in the refrigerator; this recommended time could vary from appliance to appliance.)
With that, you’re done. Beans on everything!
Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter @folowbredcrumbs, or check out her excellent book blog.