Lately, I've been getting lots of questions about how to cook beans from scratch. Since it’s in the air, maybe you'd like to know too. If the only beans you’ve eaten have come from a can, a whole new world is about to open up for you!
First things first. Get yourself a good quality pressure cooker, a.k.a. your new best friend. My favorite is the electric Instant-Pot. I highly recommend it for its versatility (pressure cooking, slow cooking, and everything in between), ease, and safety.
While beans can be cooked on the stovetop or in a slow cooker, those methods take much longer than the maximum 35 minutes needed in a pressure cooker.
Cooking beans from scratch—that is when you buy them dry and cook them at home—makes for the most flavorful, perfectly textured, easily digested, and highly nutritious beans. The main reason people don’t like beans and have issues with digesting them is that they are rarely cooked properly—even in restaurants.
The way to know that your beans are fully cooked is to take one and press it between your index finger and thumb. If the inside of the bean is completely smooth and creamy, they’re done. If it’s at all mealy or has tiny hard bits, they need to be cooked longer.
Once you’ve made your own beans, you’ll see how economical and delicious they are, and you’ll never want to eat those from a can again. Take it from my family—we’re a trio of bean snobs.
When it comes to the vegan diet, a lot of people are curious about protein. Our family eats a whole-foods vegan diet while avoiding gluten and excess soy, so beans comprise our primary protein source. We also eat plenty of quinoa and kale, which contain significant amounts of protein and dense nutrition. Read this for more info on vegan protein sources and eat with confidence, knowing that you’re supporting your own health and that of the planet, as well as caring for animals.
Happy cooking and joyful eating!
Better Than Canned Beans
By Allison Rivers Samson
Dry beans of your choice (even lentils)
1. Spread dry beans onto a cookie sheet with sides and sort through them removing cracked or imperfect beans and rocks. Rinse well and place in a large bowl with four times as much water as beans to soak. Let sit 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse well.
2. Put the soaked and drained beans in your pressure cooker (stay within the fill line) and cover with fresh water that is an inch or two higher than the beans. Add a strip of kombu seaweed if you like, for added minerals. Some say that kombu helps with digestion, but I haven’t found it to make much difference. Never add salt at this stage, as it toughens the skins and makes the beans harder to cook, and digest.
3. Follow directions on your specific pressure cooker. Allow pressure to come down naturally. Once the pressure has completely dropped, as you open the cooker, be sure to turn the lid away from your body to prevent steam burns.
4. Transfer cooked beans to jars to store them for further preparation later, or season as you would canned beans.
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