What is the easiest way to cook beans? This was my quest the past few days and I think I have found the solution to easy bean making. For those who have never cooked with dried beans, they can be a bit of a hassle to make sure you get them just the right texture–not too soft, but not too hard. This past week I tried pressure cooking, crock potting, boiling and soaking beans and the winner of the bean cook-off was definitely the crock pot. Yes, the pressure canner was fabulous and cooked the beans in less than an hour, but at the price tag of $200..I think my crock pot will do the trick.
One trick to making bean cooking more successful is to cook WAY more beans than you need, and freeze the extras for later. No one has time, or patience, to cook up one or two cups of beans at a time. It just wouldn’t be time effective to cook in such small quantities. If you only need a cup of beans, then you might as well open a can.
For those times however when you need a whole pot of soup or would like to make a big batch of bean cookies, these are the times it comes in handy to cook up several cups of beans at the same time. I found in my crock pot that I could cook 7 cups of hard beans at one time. I just poured the dried beans into the bottom of my crock pot and filled the rest of the pot up with water (all the way to the lid). I cooked the beans on high for 4 hours and they were perfect. I also tried them over night on low heat for 9-10 hours and they also turned out just right. Whether you have 4 hours or 10 hours, the crock pot is an easy way to start your beans and forget about them until they are done. I also tried boiling the beans at a rapid boil and they took about 1 hour and 30 minutes to cook (be careful doing this method–if your pot runs out of water, you will be left with a house full of smoke and burnt beans–ugh!–trust me, I know!)
Once your beans are thoroughly cooked and soft, now comes the fun part! You can either puree the beans into a paste for baking or cooking (above picture), or you can drain the beans and freeze them whole in freezer bags. These frozen beans are great for soups, on salads, in enchiladas, etc. They are much healthier for you because they are not coated in sodium and preservatives and have a much better fresh taste (if you hate canned beans, try making your own–they are MUCH better!) I portion my cooked beans into 2 c. measurements which is just a little more than what is in a can. This makes for easy measuring.Now..for the bean paste (which is SOOOO fun!). All you need to do is drain the beans from the crock pot of any of it’s bean goo (technical name, I know 🙂 If you want you can even rinse the beans. Either way, you will be left with soft, cooked beans. Dump these cooked beans into a food processor or place in a big bowl and beat with a hand beater or a potato masher.
Once the beans are completely smooth (you may need to add 1/2-1 c. of water for every couple of cups of beans to help them puree smoothly), you can then bag them into 1 c. portions. You want the bean puree to be the texture of soft butter when it is done.You then use this bean paste in the place of butter or oil in recipes. If you use 1/2 white bean puree for half of the butter in most recipes, you will never know it! These oatmeal cookies (above) are amazing and are 1/2 the fat of regular cookies. One cup of butter has 178 grams of fat (ugh!) compared to one cup of white beans that has ONE gram of fat. For this reason alone, you should give beans a try–let alone you don’t compromise anything in taste! FYI: Don’t substitute any more than 1/2 of the oil with beans in a recipe or your recipe won’t turn out–they will be too dry.
This below recipe makes a large batch, so roll the cookies into balls and freeze for later. There is nothing better than warm cookies out of the oven, anytime you want!
Enjoy! Here is another oatmeal cookie that I posted about a year ago with white beans. The options for beans are limitless 🙂