Friday, December 28, 2012

Saving Money on Groceries - Bean counting

Each Package contains the equivalent of 2 cans of
Beans - and is reusable : )
Canned beans seem the ultimate in convenience - and I have used them many times.

But, Canned Chickpeas Run around a Dollar a Can. Equivalent Beans from Dried Chickpeas (which is One and a Half Cups - if you're lucky- sometimes only One and a Quarter!) - less than TWENTY CENTS!

Canned Beans have several drawbacks:

  1.  They're WAY more expensive, percentage-wise (I save about 70% of the cost when I make my own from dried!).
  2. The extra packaging isn't so good, environmentally speaking - even if you recycle them, all that extra packaging isn't the best.
  3. They sometimes have additives or preservatives.
  4. And, they're heavy - so it's a lot more hassle to lug them home.

On the other hand, with dried beans, I've always had a few problems

  1. They had to be soaked, which means I had to be all organized and everything.
  2. They didn't taste as good to me as canned beans- they seemed to have a bitter taste.
  3. They took a long time to cook, during which I had to stir them from time to time to prevent them sticking to the pot at the bottom and/or scorching. Meaning I had to stand in or around the kitchen all the time.
So, canned beans it was!

Beans Starting to cook in the Slow Cooker.
But, I recently found a good  blog post that explained how to make dried beans in the slow cooker.


I found a great article that puts to rest fears about unsoaked beans being "gassy." 

This is what you do:

Finished - Cooked Beans from the Slow Cooker.
  1. DO NOT SOAK! (YAY!) (the one exception to this is chickpeas - I prefer to soak them in the fridge with a teaspoon of baking soda from the night before, then rinse & drain before proceeding)
  2. Measure into crock 3 cups of beans, and 6 cups of water (If chickpeas, use 8 cups of water).
  3. Add generous salt (I use about a Tablespoon).
  4. Cover and turn on high. No need to stir or hover : )
  5. Three and a Half to Six hours later - you have cooked beans! (the post said Five to Six, but my first batches - Blackeye Peas and Great Northerns were very tender in Three and a Half hours. Chickpeas took Six.)

Notice, this method breaks TWO Rules
  1.  The always soak rule and
  2. The don't add salt till the end rule (which was ruining the flavour of the beans previously).
But, it works great. The beans taste great! (no more wishing for that canned taste!) They're cheap!

When the beans are done, the water level will be below the top of the beans (it doesn't hurt to stir once in the last hour). If you want soupier beans, add more water.

When they're done, I package them (with cooking liquid) in Reusable Three Cup containers - label them "2 Cans Great Northern Beans" or "2 Cans Chickpeas" and date them. And toss them in the freezer. Unless, of course I want to eat them right away : )

To use, I thaw overnight in the fridge, then rinse in a sieve under warm running water to get rid of the last bits of ice crystals. Of course, they may also be thawed in the microwave if you prefer.

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  1. Alton Brown uses a method a lot like this, I've never had it fail.

  2. Welcome, Jim & Thanks : )

    I don't know who Alton Brown is, I'm afraid - but glad the method works well for you!

  3. I stumbled upon cooking beans in the slow cooker a few years ago. I could not beleive that no one had recommended this to me before; I love it! I do soak my beans ahead of time, but this is still far easier than any other method, especially stove top cooking. I have been considering getting an electric pressure cooker to cook beans, too, but I think that is just an excuse to buy another kitchen gadget.

  4. I had no idea about the kidney beans. How do you cook them?
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Laura! I really enjoy reading your blog : )

      To be honest, I don't make Kidney beans from dry - I just buy canned. But, if I were to cook them I'd do it the old fashioned way on the stove top, where they'd come to a full boil and stay really hot for the first 10 minutes of cooking. There are folks who advise boiling your kidney beans for 10 minutes and then putting them in the slow cooker - which I'm sure would work fine - but seems to me to be more trouble than making them on the stove top.

      I have friends who use pressure cookers - and I'm sure that would be a good option, too.

      Thanks again for stopping by! : )


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