Guest Post: Dried Beans

This guest post is brought to you by Nicole, who I have bean, er, been friends with since grad school! She keeps nudging me to try dried beans, and this post might push me to do it.

I read food blogs and watch the Food Network and I’ve been noticing an unfortunate trend in the cooking world lately. The cooks spend all this time and effort in the kitchen creating beautiful meals, only to bust out the can opener when it comes to the beans. It kills me.

Why is it that foodies and healthy cooks alike seem to shy away from cooking dried beans? What makes cooking beans from scratch any different than cooking whole grains from scratch? I doubt a single one of you reading would rather eat Minute rice instead of brown rice cooked for nearly an hour.

I’m on a mission to re-introduce dried beans into people’s diets. I want people to realize that once you get the hang of it, cooking dried beans is not that difficult.

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Canned beans are so easy!” “So fast!” “So cheap!” But dried beans have a pro that outweighs all the cons, and I’m not talking about lack of BPA or sodium.


I’ve converted some of my friend and blog readers, who have one taste and will never go back to bland canned again. But I need more to join me on the dried bean bandwagon. Spend a lazy Sunday experimenting. Since beans from bulk bins can be a crapshoot in terms of quality and age, I highly recommend buying heirloom beans at the farmers’ markets or online. Great companies include Rancho Gordo, Zursun, or Seed Savers Exchange.

Soak for a few hours, rinse, and bring to a boil under about two inches of water. Reduce heat to simmer and keep an eye on them. You might have to add another cup or two of water at some point, but that’s really all the attention they need. You can be cooking other things, washing dishes, blogging, watching TV, or whatever else you do in the evening. Better yet, cook a pound on the weekend and store in the fridge to use all week. Freeze for even longer storage.

I’ll close with this excellent quote from an internet message board I was reading on dried beans:

“Properly stored dried beans, when prepared mindfully and deftly seasoned, are a revelation, and beat the pants off anything in a can.”

For more on dried beans, follow Nicole’s “Weekly Bean” series at Tweet your bean experiments with #weeklybean on Twitter.

One Comment

  1. Posted June 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I’m with you 100%, but haven’t perfected the art yet and am so impatient sometimes! Have you ever tried cooking beans using a pressure cooker? I just bought one in an effort to ditch the canned beans, but never plan far enough ahead. I think I’ll take your advice and spend a day experimenting and will freeze the leftovers so I have fresh BPA-free beans in a flash anytime I need them! Great post!

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