Hello Beautiful People!

Cooking beans from scratch can seem very daunting, you have to first soak them over night then watch them on the stove for hours.  Way too much planning ahead and time spent in the kitchen right!?  Well there is an easier way that doesn’t require soaking or long hours watching the stove.

This can be done one of 2 ways: either using a pressure cooker or slow cooker/crock pot.  I use both methods depending on the recipe and my time frame.  For example if I want a soup for supper, I’ll throw everything in the crock pot before leaving to work. If I am needing a dish within the hour I’ll use the pressure cooker.  The pressure cooker is by far the fastest and most effective way to cook beans, especially the larger beans such as chickpeas.  Unsoaked chickpeas can take upwards of 6 hours on the stove top at a simmer, but in a pressure cooker it can take as little as 45 minutes!  A split pea soup can take only 30 minutes so it is definitely worth investing in.  A good quality pressure cooker can cost around $100, mine is a Lagastina and I got it on sale at Home Outfitters for $90, regular price $150 but I have had it for almost 10 years and it’s still going strong.  Each cooker has its own manufactures instructions. The modern day pressure cookers are much safer than those that came out in our mother’s day.  The lids won’t blow off if pressure builds too high from a clogged release spout and propel into your ceiling (insert Pinterest photo here)!

Slow cookers take much longer, for chickpeas all day, but they don’t need to be watched so you can put the beans in before you head to work and have cooked beans when you return. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. They are very inexpensive…around $50 for the larger size.  Or you can ask around your social circles…I guarantee that every single person you know that’s married owns one they probably don’t use.

I have Green Lentils and Black Beans pictured below.  For the lentils I used 1 cup of beans to 2 cups of water.  The slow cooker took only 4 hours on high to completely soften the beans.  If you are going to be out all day long you can cook them on low heat.  If beans are cooked too long they start to dissolve into the water which is great for soup but bad if you want them whole for something like a salad, so play around with your cooking times. The Black Beans took 1 cup beans to 2 ½ cups water and 6 hours to cook on high.  This batch started to dissolve into the water but instead of straining the water out I kept it all together and made the most wonderful Black Bean and Corn soup!  The large sized slow cooker can hold 4 cups of beans with 10 cups of water.  After the beans are cooked cool to room temp and then store in heavy Ziplock bags, Tupperware containers or glass jars.  They can be refrigerated for 5 days or frozen 6 months.

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If your beans are still all intact and whole you can give them a quick rinse before storing.  If the beans have been over cooked and have started to dissolve, allow them to cool and store with the liquid.  As the beans cool the water will thicken and will be perfect for soups.

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There are a few ways to make beans more digestible.  The way I find that works best is to add a 2inch piece of kelp or kombu to the cooking water.  This macrobiotic method using seaweed helps to break down the enzyme inhibitors and take away the gas producing effects.  Enzyme Inhibitors in the bean keeps it dormant until water is added and the bean senses it is time to release them and start growing.  These inhibitors can cause digestive upset for some people.  Seaweeds can be purchased online, in Asian markets or health food stores.

Another method is to soak the beans overnight and then rinse out the soaking water.  This does work but takes a bit of planning ahead.  The last method is a quick boil.  Bring the beans to a rolling boil on the stove for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and strain out the water then proceed with your method of cooking.  So as you can see the seaweed method is the simplest and the one I use, plus it adds wonderful minerals into your dishes.

Just a quick note, always rinse your beans thoroughly to remove dust and possible dirt etc. before cooking.  While you’re running them under the water look for any small stones or broken/spoiled beans.  We don’t want a rotten bean or worse a hidden rock to bite down on….this has happened to me and I have

It is definitely worth the little bit of time it takes to cook your own beans.  The flavor is so much superior to canned, there are no preservatives and no salt added.  The biggest benefit is the money you will save, specifically with organic beans which you should always try and purchase when possible.  Many grain and bean crops grown conventionally are sprayed with chemicals before harvest…not something you want to ingest.  Avoid this by going organic with your beans and grains.  Buying in bulk saves even more money and beans can be stored for several years in dark containers.

My Black Bean and Corn soup recipe will be posted in the follow blog page.

Love Jennifer xoxo