Friday, August 16, 2013

Learning to Cook and Eat Dried Beans

Yellow Eye Beans purchased from North Bay Trading
Let's suppose that for reasons of health or economy or some other reason you have decided that you need to include more dried beans in your diet.

Here are some things for you to consider.

There is a learning curve to getting dried beans done. They are not done if they still taste "crunchy." If at first you don't succeed, try try again.

There are several ways to cook dried beans. You can cook them in a pressure cooker. You can cook them in a crock pot. You can boil them on a stove top. If it is your goal to incorporate dried beans into your diet, don't give up until you have tried all the methods, and found the one that works best for you.  (Do Google searches to find instructions for each method of cooking.)

Don't think that all dried beans taste alike. They don't. If you don't like the taste of black beans (for instance) that doesn't mean that you won't like red beans or pinto beans or black eye peas. If this bean doesn't suite your fancy, try a different bean.

Constantly be on the lookout for good bean recipes. I have an entire section of my homemade cookbook devoted to beans.
my homemade cookbook
what it looks like when you open the cover

the bean section
these are all bean recipes

Another suggestion is to make notes on your recipes the day you try them. That way, you can modify things you don't like, or serve that dish again, if it was wildly successful with your family.

Don't give up if your kids don't like the beans the first time. Keep trying. My kids all eat their beans now, but it was a process. I gave incentives (we call them "sticker meals") for a long time to get to that point. The idea was that for every time the kids would eat a meal I wanted to have rather than some sort of kid-friendly meal, they would get a sticker. When they got 10 stickers, I would buy them something worth $5.

You can branch out from regular beans even more if you purchase heirloom beans online. They have wildly varied tastes and unusual broths (my Grandma called it "the bean likker" --said in an extremely southern voice).

Some of my favorite flavors of heirloom dried beans are Good Mother Stallard beans, and Tiger Eye beans. I just recently purchased cranberry beans, Yellow Eye beansDapple Grey beans, and Pink beans from North Bay Trading. I haven't tasted any of them except for the Yellow Eye beans.

I have found North Bay Trading to be the cheapest option I have been able to find. (If you know of a cheaper one, please leave a comment for me.)

Another suggestion is to read The Rancho Gordo Heirloom Bean Grower's Guide: Steve Sando's 50 Favorite Varieties. I found it really loaded with helpful information and it made me want to try a bunch of new types of beans.

My favorite bean cookbook is Growing and Cooking Beans By John Withee.

My family has been eating and enjoying dried beans for 10 years now, but it was definitely a process. I hope this makes your process toward eating these wonderful beans easier.

****The views expressed here are entirely my own. I have not received any compensation from any of the links for this information. However, if you click through the Rancho Gordo link, I will receive a small (really small) compensation from Amazon.***