Dry beans are a fantastic option for any food storage plan. When you combine them with a grain, nut or seed, you have a complete protein. Today I’d like to share 10 tips with you that will make using your dry beans easy!
In addition to the protein mentioned above, there are many other reasons to include dry beans in your food storage:
- They are full of fiber which means you don’t need to eat a lot to feel full (great in an emergency situation)
- Beans are inexpensive per calorie
- Beans are low on the glycermic index which means they get absorbed more slowly allowing your blood sugar to stay stable.
- Beans can be used to help lower your cholesterol levels!
- In addition to lowering your cholesterol, beans are great for your heart in other ways – the fiber reduces heart attack risk, potassium removes excess sodium which can lower your blood pressure. And magnesium can also help with blood pressure regulation.
- Beans are a good source of b vitamins which is great for energy levels.
- Beans can be stored safely for a long time
I highly recommend you keep dry beans in your food storage! Using dry beans is simpler than you think.
Just one downside
Dry beans do have one downside in a food storage plan – they require a lot of water and fuel to make them edible, and the older they get the more water and fuel they will require. If you do choose to store dry beans, make sure you also store fuel and water, and rotate them regularly.
If storing fuel and water is an issue, you might consider instant beans. They are slightly more expensive than regular dry beans, but don’t require as much water or any fuel.
Instant beans are regular dry beans that are parboiled and then dried. They will still store for 25+ years, but use far less fuel and water to make them edible. In fact, you can just soak them in cold water for a couple hours and they will be soft enough to eat.
Ten tips for using dry beans from your food storage
If you have or plan to have dry beans in your food storage, you should know how to use them. Below are ten tips that should help you get started using dry beans!
Tip #1 – Clean & Rinse Your Beans
Beans will often come with pebbles, leaves, twigs etc in the package. Make sure you pick through and then rinse them before using them.
Tip #2 – Soak Your Beans
Beans should be soaked before being cooked for three reasons:
- It allows for shorter cooking times which translates into less use of fuel and water.
- It protects vitamins, minerals and proteins that could be damaged during prolonged heating.
- It will help your beans cook more evenly and ensure they get tender all the way through.
There are two ways to soak your beans. If possible, I recommend the overnight soak as it uses less water and fuel. But if you are short on time, the quick soak will get the job done!
- Overnight soak – Put beans in large pot or bowl and add 3 cups water for every 1 cup beans. Let soak for 10-16 hours. Drain and discard liquid.
- Quick soak – Put beans in a large pot and add 3 cups water for every 1 cup beans. Bring water to a boil, remove from heat and allow the beans to sit for 2-4 hours. Drain and discard liquid. This method helps dissolve some of the gas-causing substances.
Tip #3 – Don’t add salt until the end
Do not add salt (or bouillon or anything containing salt) to the water when soaking or starting to cook your beans. It will prevent them from softening. Instead, add the salt once the beans have become almost soft enough – just right before they are done cooking.
Tip #4 – Add Aromatics
Aromatics such as onion, garlic or bay leaves can be added at the beginning of your cook time and will add a lot of depth to the flavor of your beans.
Tip #5 – Beans expand when cooked.
Beans will double or even triple in size once they are cooked. This means that one cup dry beans will become 2-3 cups of beans once they are cooked! Remember this as you plan for recipes and such.
Tip #6 – Bean can be used as a fat replacement in recipes
Beans can be used in place of shortening, butter or margarine in baked goods. Simply cook them without any aromatics or salt. Once they are soft, puree them and substitute one cup fat for one cup pureed beans!
If you are making dark baked goods, use black or even pinto beans. If you are making lighter colored baked goods, use navy or lima beans.
Here is one recipe you can start with: Black Bean Cupcakes. These cupcakes are delicious and no one will know you used beans instead of fat!
Tip #7 – Bean flour has many uses.
You can put dry beans in a grain mill to create bean flour.
There are two many ways I use bean flour:
- As a thickener in soups and stews! It is healthier and easier than flour or cornstarch. Simply add it in a tablespoon or so at a time while whisking.
- You can also use bean flour to make your own “cream of” soups. Simply add 4 tablespoons of white (navy, lima) bean flour to 1 ¾ cup water in a small saucepan. Add 4 tsp bouillon and then simmer while whisking for 2-3 minutes. It is delicious and far healthier.
Tip #8 – Beans can provide vegetables for your family
Beans can be sprouted. This is not something I do regularly, but I do like knowing that I could have a small vegetable source from my beans if I needed to. You can find many books on Amazon that will teach you how to sprout beans (among other things)
Tip #9 – When to leave the lid on
If you plan to use the beans in pasta salad or something similar, leave the lid off as they will better keep their shape / skin.
But if you plan to use the beans in a soup, casserole or burritos leave the lid on and add slightly less water.
Tip #10 – Basic cooking instructions
Cooking dry beans instead hard, but it does take some time. Here are the steps:
- Drain pre-soaked beans
- Put pre-soaked beans in a large pot
- Add any aromatics (onion, bay leaf, garlic etc)
- Cover beans with cold water (2 cups water for each cup of pre-soaked beans)
- Bring beans to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer (you should barely be able to see movement in the water).
- Check the beans after one hour and then every 15 minutes after that. Depending on the size, variety and age of the bean, they will likely take 1-4 hours to completely soften. Don’t turn up the heat and rush them. Quick cooked beans are harder to digest!
Note: The amount of time needed to get them soft will depend largely on the age of the beans. The older beans get, the longer they take to soften. I once had to simmer 30 year old beans for over 15 hours to get them soft!
This means that while beans do have a long shelf life, it is important to rotate through and use your beans often. If you leave them on your shelf for 25 years, it will take a LOT more water and fuel to make them edible.
- If you need to add additional water, boil the water separately first. Do not add cold water to cooking beans or they will get tough.
- Once the beans are almost done, add salt (or bouillon) to taste.
- Store beans in their cooking liquid for the best flavor. Once you’ve used all the beans the cooking liquid can be used later as a base for soups / sauces.
- Use a hand blender (or even just a fork) to “mash” beans into “re-fried” style beans.
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I found most of the health info about beans on Health.com
Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.