Tuesday, October 02, 2012

VeganMofo Day 2: Cooking and Freezing Dried Beans

I like to keep beans on hand in every form. Canned beans are cheap enough and great for convenience. I try to always keep a couple of cans of beans on hand for quick last-minute meals. But when I'm trying to save money, it's dried beans all the way. I used to hardly ever make dried beans because the cooking and preparation time was so long and I rarely plan my meals that far ahead. But then I learned that it's possible to have the best of both worlds! I started cooking dried beans ahead of time and freezing can-sized portions in plastic bags. Now, whenever I want to make something that calls for a can of beans, I just pull a bag out of the freezer. Easy!

How to Cook and Freeze Dried Beans
There are a ton of different methods for cooking dried beans: from baking to using a pressure cooker, soaking or not soaking, adding things to the water, etc. I'm a fan of the basic method of soaking and simmering beans on their own. I think they taste best this way and I heard it's one of the best methods for reducing the gassiness of beans.

Step 1: Put your dried beans in a large container. The pot you plan on cooking them in is great, since it's only one thing to wash, but you can use any sort of container that can hold beans and water and has enough space to let the beans double at least. Fill your container of beans with enough of water to come several inches above bean level and set aside. Let them soak overnight for 8 hours or so (mine always end up soaking longer because I usually start them soaking in the evening and don't get to them until the next evening.

Have your cat help for this step.
The large mason jar was big enough for the chickpeas, but there were the white beans took up more than half of the jar to begin with, so I transferred them to a large bowl.

Step 2: After soaking, dump the beans into a strainer and give them a good rinse.

Step 3: Put the beans in a large pot and cover them with fresh water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until tender. Cooking time varies depending on the type of bean. Here's a chart of estimated times I found online:

If you're anything like me, you'll just set the beans to cook and forget to set a timer and just keep poking the beans every once in a while until they're almost done and you say "okay, they should be done in 5 more minutes" and then 45 minutes later you return to find them overdone and a bit mushy.

Step 4: When they are perfectly tender (or slightly mushy in my case), drain the beans and let them cool.

Step 5: Measure out 1 1/2 cups of beans per sandwich bag and stick 'em in the freezer. Done!

1 bag = 1 can of beans


  1. Thanks for this, it's really useful and has inspired me to cook up some beans. I've never really had much luck cooking beans from dried, but recently read a method for cooking them in the oven in a casserole, so I'm going to give it another go!

  2. Such a great idea, and I do need to add more beans to my diet.

  3. Excellent post, thank you! I love the idea of 1 1/2 cup ziplock bags in the freezer. So convenient ^_^ How do you usually defrost them?

    1. I usually don't defrost at all. If I'm making a chili or any dish that calls for the beans to be heated, I'll just toss them in frozen and maybe add a little extra time.

  4. Thanks for providing that helpful chart with the cooking times!

  5. Awesome tip! I pinned it on my Vegan MoFo board here: http://pinterest.com/vegangela/vegan-mofo-2012/ :)

  6. That is a great chart, but I am really posting to tell you that I love your cat pictures!

  7. I am trying to get in the habit of cooking beans too. Thanks for the tips!

  8. This really is a good idea and I keep meaning to cook large batches and freeze them!