Thursday, January 15, 2009

Freezing beans

cooking and freezing dried beans
I try to avoid using canned beans because dried ones are far cheaper, don't have all the negative factors of canned foods, and don't come with a salty mush. But canned ones are so much more convenient! The solution: cook a bunch of dried beans and freeze in can-sized portions.

So, I had a bean cooking extravaganza on Monday night and ended up cooking about 2 pounds of black beans, 1 pound of kidney beans, and 1/2 pound of great northern beans. I'm hoping to do more varieties once I clear out more space in the freezer.

I rinsed them and soaked them all day (although I've been reading a lot lately about how this isn't necessary), then simmered them until they were almost done. If you're planning to use them in cooked dishes, I would stop them when they're still al dente, but for cold dishes I would cook them completely (but don't let them get mushy). Then I drained the beans, spread them out to cool, and packaged them in 1 2/3 cup portions in freezer bags. Another alternative is to pack them in 2 cup portions that include some of the cooking liquid. Or, you can spread them out in a single layer on a sheet pan and freeze them for a couple of hours, then pack in one big bag (this allows them to freeze individually so that they don't freeze into a block). This would have been ideal, but I didn't have the time or freezer space to make it happen. But, it's nice to be able to take a bag out of the freezer and throw it in the refrigerator in the morning and use it that night.

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