Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cooking Beans from Scratch

A long, long time ago I believed beans came from a can. Then I fell in love with a man from Mexico and everything changed. He taught me mexican food that doesn't involve a can opener or premade sauces and salsas. I learned quickly that fresh cooked beans have amazing flavor along with a nutrient rich broth. After eating only fresh cooked beans for a period of time, the tinny aftertaste of canned beans became noticeable on my palate and I have never bought canned beans since.
It is easy to make fresh cooked beans. There are a few steps, but with practice cooking fresh cooked beans to use in one's recipes becomes a part of the daily kitchen routine.
Many varieties of beans exist and are used throughout the worlds' cuisines. Pintos are  traditional in Mexican cuisine, often served refried style. Black Beans are popular in the Caribbean. Garbanzo beans are featured in Indian dishes and in the Meditteranean spread Hummus. Red Chile and Kidney beans are used to make hearty chili soups.
When fresh cooked beans are used in recipe preparation, the resulting dish has a deeper level of savoriness. Another benefit is that fresh cooked beans are easier on the digestive system and contain less gas causing molecules. 


There is not an exact recipe for making beans. Variables such as altitude, humidity, and bean types affect cooking times and water amount used. I have outlined the basic formula with a guideline recipe to follow. I highly recommend using a crock pot to cook the beans in. The crock pot cuts the cooking time in half and protects the beans from overcooking or burning. It also allows the cook the ability to leave the kitchen and not have to babysit the beans. High altitude climates require longer cooking times, usually around 4-6 hours. At sea level, beans take about 1-3 hours to cook. Pinto beans are a great beginner bean to try out. They have a shorter cooking time and almost foolproof results. 

2 cups beans
7-10 cups water
1-2T sea salt
optional: fresh herbs, garlic, or onion

Cooking Beans Recipe
 1. Bring beans and water to a boil in large pot.

Cooking Beans recipe
 2. Place heated beans and water in a crock pot of appropriate size. Turn
heat to high, and cook covered. Lower heat if leaving the house or cooking overnight.
Check on beans occasionally to make sure there is enough water. Beans need a lot of 
water to thoroughly cook. Add water as needed. 
Beans are done when they are soft and slightly mushy.

Cooking beans recipe
3. Take beans out of crock pot and drain in colander.  
Rinse beans to get rid of impurities and gas causing molecules.

cooking beans recipe
4. Place cooked beans and enough water to just cover them in a pot.
Now is the time to add salt to taste and any other additional seasonings.
Whole cloves of garlic and fresh sprigs of herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and 
oregano are delicious additions. Let beans simmer for at 30-60 minutes, in order
 to make a flavorful broth. 

Using your Fresh Cooked Beans:

Beans can be eaten whole in their own broth or served with rice. Of course there are many variations and uses for fresh cooked beans. Refried syle pinto beans are creamy and satisfying. Hummus from fresh cooked garbanzos tastes amazing. Red chile and kidney beans can easily become the basis for a delicious vegetarian chili stew. Here are some of my favorite recipes:
Creamy Peruvian Yellow Beans with Rosemary and Garlic Recipe

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