Friday, 6 September 2013

0 Food waste and Cooking with beans

I haven't a shred of food waste to share with you this Friday. Though in all fairness I did end up eating the same meal 4 times to get through one set of leftovers. I do need to concentrate on getting through my container of spinach though . . . I've been avoiding my salads because they take time to make, it's a bad habit that I've been trying to get rid of forever.

On the other hand I thought I'd share some ideas with you about cooking with beans. They've made up a large part of my diet since I went vegetarian and I've gotten pretty good at cooking them. I use to do the canned beans thing, so simple. You just open it up and pour. But to experiment further with cooking from scratch I ventured into the world of dried beans and never looked back. For me the advantages of dried beans over canned are:

1. They are less expensive.
2. They use less packaging
3. You can buy them (and store them) in bulk.
4. You control and added ingredients, such as salt.

When I started cooking with dried beans I was looking for a standard equation of how much water and how long to cook them. Much to my dismay it doesn't work that way. Now a days cooking beans looks something like this (if I need them soft to go into the recipe, some recipes actually call for dried beans and provide specific instructions.)

Measure out wanted amount (you need to know how to convert dried to cooked) put in large bowl of water to soak overnight. Put in slow cooker in morning with as much water as it will hold (at least 3 cups of water to 1 cup of beans.) Turn on. Turn off when you get home/when beans are the desired level of mushiness (yes that is a scientific word!)

Of course this takes some preparation and planning. So does taking meat out of the freezer the night before (which I was awful at doing by the way.)


  1. I recently converted to using dried beans instead of canned beans for all the reasons you mentioned.

    One thing I did not know, and it probably makes me look pretty naive, but you can't throw soaked beans into chili pre-cooked. I mean, I soaked them, they expanded, and I'm going to simmer the chili for hours anyway. Turns out the acid in the tomatoes keeps them hard as rocks. Lesson learned the hard way (pun intended).

    1. Alicia - I didn't know that! I thought you were supposed to soak red kidney beans overnight before cooking? As you can tell I use the can beans for chili.

      Elizabeth - have you seen/busted the pin for making salad ahead and storing in mason jars in the fridge? This is supposed to work quite well - just can be time consuming to chop up the vegies.

    2. When I do chilli I soak the beans, then simmer them until thy are soft enough and then add the rest of the ingredients. That said the chilli that I make doesn't have all that much tomato in it and only cooks for 20 min once everything is in the pot.

      I'll have to try the mason jar idea. I do have a terrible time coming up with the energy to make one serving of salad.

  2. Congratulations on no waste. Do you do anything to your beans to help with the sugars that produce gas?

    1. Not really, I've read tons of suggestions online but it hasn't really been a problem.