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Beans – Dried or Canned?

17 Jul

The Bean Mausoleum - 2011

When I was growing up the only bean I can remember being a constant in our house was chick-peas. We opened the can and sprinkled them on our salad when we wanted to be fancy.

Chick-peas would remain my sole experience with beans until I was an adult, and lets face it…we opened the can and poured them over salad. Not a lot of experimenting going on. In my 20s (and living on my own) I started cooking with other beans; kidney beans, black beans and white beans. It was when I was in my 30s (and married) that I really embraced the home economics of family life. While expanding my cooking boundaries I decided to incorporate more legumes in my diet. So, I headed to the bulk bins and bought a large variety of dried beans which I stowed in my Tupperware modular mates. I stared at my collection and felt quite pleased with myself.

This would have been a great start to cooking with more beans. Except that the beans stayed there…probably for years, hermetically sealed in Tupperware containers, in my cupboard because I actually had no idea how to cook them or what to do with them. My vegetarian sister nicknamed it The Bean Mausoleum and suggested that I toss the beans and start from scratch (having something to do with shelf life and loss of nutrients).

1 can ($.70) = 1 cup 1 bag ($1.22) = 6 cups

I admit that canned beans are über convenient and I go through a lot of them. I would have been content to continue using canned beans but the shrinking portion sizes of packaged and canned foods irritates me. I like the idea of besting the food manufacturers who think I don’t notice that a pound of whatever is no longer a pound and head for the bulk bins where I control the amount of food I bring home…not to mention the cost. A one pound bag of navy beans cost me $1.22 on a recent trip to Wal-Mart. Cooked, that bag is the equivalent of 6 cups of beans. At $.70 per can (which yields roughly one cup of beans when drained and rinsed), I calculate that I am saving roughly 67% by cooking my own. Plus, dried beans have less calories, less sodium and a fresher taste.

Of course, cooking your own beans does take some planning. First you have to allot time for soaking. I like to throw my beans in a pot of water and stick them in the fridge overnight. Then, there is the cooking. Dried beans (see chart below) take anywhere from one to three hours depending on the type. Stored in one cup portions in plastic sandwich bags, beans can be frozen for up to six months with no loss of flavor.

So I make the case for dried beans but I do keep a few cans on hand for last minute bean emergencies (you never know when those can come up).

One Cup Dried Water/Cup Cooking Time/Hour Yield/Cups
Black Beans

4

1 ½

2

Chickpeas

4

2-3

2

Kidney Beans

3

1 ½

2

Lentils

3

1

2

Lima Beans

2

1 ½

1 ½

Navy Beans

3

1 ½

2

Pinto Beans

3

2 ½

2

Split Peas

3

1

2

Source: Prevention’s Low-Fat, Low Cost Freezer Cookbook

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3 Comments

Posted by on July 17, 2011 in Bean Mausoleum, Kitchen Basics

 

3 responses to “Beans – Dried or Canned?

  1. Vegetarian Sister

    July 17, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Great post. I’m glad to see you’ve liberated your legumes from the Bean Mausoleum. I too discovered beans other than chickpeas later in life. Didn’t we call them chi chi beans or garbanzos back then? Something Italian.

     

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