A BIG Pot of Beans
It’s not often that I bother to cook up a big pot of beans. But every time I do, I’m glad I went to the extra effort. Home cooked beans always have a much nicer flavour and texture than canned beans.
The soaking does require a little pre-planning but I highly recommend taking the time because it reduces the presence of chemicals called ‘phytates’ which can cause problems with our digestion. It’s also supposed to reduce any bean-related digestive issues or ‘gassiness’.
While cooking beans on the stove like this is quicker, I’ve recently started using my slow cooker to cook beans and chickpeas and beans. It takes much longer but I love the set and forget aspect of it.
takes: 6 hours soaking + 2-6 hours cooking
500g (1lb) dried beans or chickpeas
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
2 bay leaves, optional
1. Cover beans or chickpeas with plenty of cold water and bicarb soda and soak for at least 6 hours and up to 48 hours.
2. Drain beans and place in a large pot or your slow cooker. Cover generously with clean cold water and add the bay leaf, if using.
3. ON the stove top: Simmer, uncovered until beans / chickpeas are tender – anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.
4. OR in the slow cooker: cook on low for about 6 hours or until beans / chickpeas are tender.
5. Drain and either use or store in the fridge / freezer.
Variations for Fun
short on time? – skip the soaking and allow a little longer to cook. Be prepared for extra ‘gassiness’.
no bicarb soda – the bicarb helps soften the skins of the chickpeas / beans and so speeds up the cooking time. If you don’t have any just skip it and be prepared for the cooking time to be a little longer.
other herbs – skip the bay leaf or replace with other flavourings such as thyme, rosemary, sage or black peppercorns.
chickpeas – use dried chickpeas instead of the beans.
flavourings – add a chopped onion, carrot and/or stick of celery.
canned bean replacement – use anywhere that calls for canned beans. As a rule of thumb, 1 drained can = 250g (9oz) cooked beans.
braised beans – recipe over here – NEW!
soups – brilliant in soups like this roast eggplant and white bean soup.
pasta alternative – serve with your favourite pasta sauce or in your favourite pasta bake like this white bean & onion bake.
salads – toss into your favourite salad for an extra protein hit.
A must! I like to make up a big batch to have on hand for quick meals during the week.
Storage Best Practices
Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag. Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks or so. Can be frozen for up to 12 months.
Can be stored either in the cooking liquid or drained. I tend to drain before storing.
Waste Avoidance Strategy
beans – pantry.
Problem Solving Guide
too bland? – add in a little more salt.
beans still tough – some beans just don’t want to soften. Blame the beans! Adding a little bicarb soda to the cooking water can help.
beans mushy – means they’ve been overcooked. Not much you can do now except serve them as a puree. Next time watch more closely.
Back to: The Weekend Cook Overview.