Wondering how to store your beans? Are you working on saving money by buying in bulk, but don't know how to best store and prepare your purchases?
This week, fellow West Michigan Blogger, Jolon Hull at Savvy Chic Savings blogged about her new bulk purchase of 25 pounds of black beans. She indicated that she was thinking about canning her beans and was concerned about how difficult that might be.
I quickly posted a comment to her blog with my own solution in an effort to help my fellow cohort in blogging and things frugal.
Now, I have never canned foods on my own. I canned peaches once about 20 some years ago (Wow…am I that old already?), in someone else's kitchen, and she did most of the work. It was fun, but I haven't done it again since. I have found that every so often I can try a new arc in my learning curve of life and that one I haven't done yet. I would like to and I also plan to learn how to make my own soap.
Now, I'd like to learn to can, but not for beans. Too much fussing for too little results for this busy mom — in my opinion.
Here is the easy-peasy way to store prepared beans.
1. Cook a whole bunch at one time. I typically use a pressure cooker and cook up to 10 cups (about 3 1/3 pounds) at one time.
2. Either use the beans all at once in a recipe that can carry our family for a number of meals, or use quite a bit of them and
3. freeze the rest in small plastic bags, portioned out for easy future use.
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The bags that I use are the smallest ones available through Country Life Natural Foods, and I secure them with those great Twixit Clips that I mentioned in my post on How to Store Nuts and Seeds. There are small plastic bags available through Amazon, but I have not tested those. They have a zip-top but I think these should work pretty well. I just really prefer the Twixit Clips for ease of use. (anyone else get frustrated with those zipper top closures :-(?))
The portion that I find most helpful is 3 1/2 cups per bag as this is the amount of beans in 2 typical cans of beans.
4. Simply take a bag out of the freezer when you need them. If you take them out the night before then they will probably be usable the next day. You can also let them warm for a bit and then empty the bag in to a warm pan and heat them up until they are ready to go into your dish. If the dish that you are preparing combines the beans with other items that you are preparing fresh and they are warm, then the heat from the dish will thaw out the beans the rest of the way.
This is such a time and money saver and a nutrition booster as well.
- You avoid the added expense of canned beans.
- You also have beans ready whenever you need them for a recipe. I will, in the future, post the recipe for a very flexible curried grain and bean dish that you can adapt to any grain and bean. In truth, almost all recipes work this way. In fact, flexibility in the kitchen is one of the greatest ways to save time and money.
- You also save on salt intake, though I think it is fine to consume salt as long as it is the healthy kind, not the kind in most processed foods and on most folks' tables.
- The beans, when prepared with ajwain or epazote by you, will be soaked and cooked properly and so much more easily digestible and nutritious.
- One final benefit of preparing and storing your beans this way is that you will be preserving the nutrients in your beans. Canning reduces nutrients whereas freezing only does so minimally.
It's not often that one can save time, money and nutrition all at the same time, but when you can, what a deal!
Let me know how it turns out for you!
I'd love to hear any time, money and nutrition saving tips that you have come up with!