It’s important to know how to cook beans the easy way so that you don’t have to keep buying cans of beans at inflated prices. One of the best ways to cook beans is with a slow cooker. Almost anyone can get a slow cooker at a thrift store for a cheap price and they use only a little electricity compared to the stove or other methods of cooking.
The cost of beans goes up depending on how you buy them. Buying in bulk is the cheapest, followed by #2 lb. bags being a little more expensive. Then, the cost goes up dramatically from $1.27/lb. dry beans to $6.21/lb. if you have someone cook the beans for you and can them.
This illustration below is from my favorite store where GMO foods are not used and the costs tend to be cheaper than the organic foods at other health food stores. However, the principle also applies to buying beans in bulk elsewhere compared to buying them in cans at a regular grocery store. It is basically always a lot cheaper to cook your own beans.
Sample Cost-of-Pinto-Beans Comparison at Natural Grocer (Aug. 2011)
- 25# (dry uncooked) Pinto Beans 31.83 = 1.27 per pound
- 2# (dry uncooked) Pinto Beans 3.04 = 1.52 per pound
- 15 oz. Fat-free (wet cooked) Pinto Beans, canned 2.07 (x4 to equal 1# dry beans) = 8.68/lb. to have it cooked and canned into 4 cans for you.
So, buy some dry beans. If you take the 2 cups or one pound of the above 1.27 beans and cook them up, the 2 cups will expand to 6 cups. Two or more servings at 1/2 cup each is needed per day for protein requirements according to the New Four Foods Groups – Bean RDA as shown on this link. One 1/2 cup serving of organic pinto beans only ends up costing 11 cents compared to the 72 cent serving from the can.
So, how do you cook beans? There are many easy ways including soaking or not soaking, using a stove, slow-cooker or a pressure cooker. Soaking will make the beans softer to begin with, so that they will cook faster when you do cook them. And to improve the nutritional content and lessen the chance for gas, sprouting beans is smart.The beans have phytic acid that is detrimental to health that is removed by rinsing them after soaking them.
If you don’t presoak them, and just throw them in the slow cooker with some water, then make sure you rinse them off after cooking. It’s kind of nice to presoak them though, because then you have some rich, nutritious broth. But, soaking and cooking in the slow cooker at the same time is definitely easier and faster.
A stove will take a lot of boiling, water, and time for the beans to cook especially if they are old beans. The beans will cook faster if they are fresh and may take days if they are old. Old beans can become as hard as rocks eventually, so it is important to use and rotate them.
A pressure cooker is nice; you can just bring the beans to a boil, put the lid on and they will be cooked in about 10 minutes. However, pressure cookers require special skills and are expensive.
A slow cooker is nice because you can easily soak and cook them at the same time. They can be cooking while you are asleep or at work. It’s pretty easy to get an affordable slow cooker.
If you soak your beans and they are new enough, you can drain them off and sprout them as shown on this link. This will increase the nutrient content many times over. Then, they will cook up a little faster and be more digestible, producing less gas as you get used to them.
HOW TO COOK BEANS THE EASY WAY
- 1 cup dry beans of your choice
- 4 cups water
- Put the dry beans and water into a slow-cooker. You may need to sort through them to remove little rocks before adding them.
- Turn the slow cooker on low and let soak and cook for 8 hours. If they are not done, you will need to turn the heat to high and cook for a few more hours. You can add extra water if needed, so that the water is 4 times inches times higher than the amount of dry beans. Test one of the cooked beans for doneness. The softer and more cooked it is, the less gas problem you will have.
- Rinse the beans well in a colander to remove the phytic acid that is in the water. However, if your beans have been soaked and sprouted, rinsing is unnecessary; just add water to 2 inches above the beans and cook on low for 4-6 hours, checking for doneness.
- You can tell if the beans are done by pinching one between your finger and thumb; it should mash easily.
*Every slow cooker is different and every bean is different (old or new, large or small), so you will need to adjust the cooking time. If you can smell the beans, they are probably close to being done. They will not burn, just add extra water if needed. You can just cook the beans on high and they will be done sooner if you like. The low temperature just helps to preserve more B vitamins and enzymes in the sprouted beans.
Freshly cooked beans have such an awesome taste. You may just want to have a simple bowl right there and then without any salt or anything added. The beans you cook can be stored in the fridge in a medium container or freezer in 1-2 cup containers to be used later for your favorite recipe. They will store for months in the freezer and for about a week in the fridge. Then, you can use them in some bean recipes.