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Easy Dried Bean Preparation for Stuck-at-Home Chefs

One consequence of the new normal is that people have reduced eating out and food shopping. Another, related, consequence is that many have moved toward cooking and baking at home, with a focus on purchasing and storing frozen, canned and dry foods in bulk. Dried bean varieties, in particular, are staples that lend themselves to cost-effective and delicious recipes. Unlike canned beans, however, dried beans usually cannot just be poured into a pot and cooked quickly. Outlined below are easy steps for preparing, cooking and storing beans and legumes.

Secure the Beans

Assume your beans will come in bulk stored in sacks or bags. You must store them correctly if you want to preserve them for months or years. Keep them in their original packaging if it is airtight; otherwise pour them into a sealed container. Choose a dry storage area that you can keep cool year-round.

Be Picky About Preparation

With an abundance before you, you can be selective. Spread out your beans on a tray or towel. Sort through and discard withered samples, rocks and stems. Rinse thoroughly in cold water to remove dust and dirt.

Give Them a Lengthy Cold Soak

Dried beans differ from canned in that you need to plan ahead. After sorting your beans, fill a pot with water three inches above the stock; soak for at least eight hours, though preferably overnight in the refrigerator. You do so in order to remove the sugars that cause digestive problems. Please note that soaking is not necessary for lentils and split peas. Drain and rinse before cooking.

Or Provide a Hot Bath

You can speed up the process by boiling beans for four minutes, a preferred method for producing consistency in texture. Let them sit for at least three hours. Drain and rinse, and you are ready to cook.

Cook Away

To cook the beans, boil twenty-five minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for three-to-four hours. Using a spoon or fork, press on a sample bean; if it mashes, the beans are done. At this time, season if desired. The finished beans can be used right away or stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

Cooked beans and lentils are a blank canvas. Recipes abound for creating anything from cold hummus with garbanzos to hot chili with pintos. Using properly prepared and cooked dried beans in your recipes rather than canned will result in a much richer and flavorful finished dish.