As I start my series of posts about stocking a pantry, I decided to start small and easy. One half of the classic complete protein “Rice and Beans”, is the beans.
Dried these have an incredible shelf life, and with a little care can become the Methuselah of your pantry. Just there, always ready, and just never dying.
In storing beans one must guard against the triple threat of oxygen, humidity, and light. We will tackle these with a minimal amount of gear and fuss.
I’ll add a quick little table here so we can get the “How much dried to how much cooked?” out of the way. A standard portion of beans in a meal is 1/2 cup cooked. So do the basic math and sort out how many servings you will need, and from there one can do the math to figure out how to portion out the dried beans for storage.
|1/3 cup||1 cups|
|2/3 cup||2 cups|
|1 cup||3 cups|
|2 cups||6 cups|
But wait, why can’t I just toss the bag on a shelf and be done? You can, and the shelf life will drop dramatically, 6 months vs up to 5 years. That is if vermin and insects do not feast on your larder before you do.
Based on my family eating habits I’ll estimate that 1 cup of dried beans (approx 1/2 lb or ~200 grams), is about right for a single cook.
When one is shopping, one can grab an extra bag of beans or two, (do check the date on the bag), and portion / pack them out and secure in the pantry
To deal with our triple threats I’ll use my vacuum sealer to seal 1 cup of beans in a bag, and I’ll thrown in an oxygen absorber as well as a desiccant packet as well. As each portion is rather small I’ll use the smallest of those I can find. (One can find all those things on Amazon).
The use of a desiccant and oxygen absorber is a bit over the top for many people, a more moderate method would be to omit those when vacuum sealing the bags. A large drop in shelf life, from 30 years to 10 years, but then again, in no way will I need to have 30 years of food in my pantry.
An even more moderate method would be to just store the 1 lb bags of dried beans in a sealed container, giving an expected life span of 1 to 2 years, but at the end of that the beans will be rather old and quite difficult to prepare. As a matter of culinary finickiness, I’ll vacuum seal, not for the extra life span, but for the taste and texture of my finished meal.
Once I have my packs done, I’ll label them with content, and date packed, then place them in a light proof container. Having vacuum sealed, (You are using thick, 5mm, bags), the storage space require will reduce by an amazing amount.
Types of beans, Cooking
We will assume that we are not using my most favorite utensil, (the instapot), and have sorted, rinsed and soaked the beans for a minimum of 6 hours and up to 8. Beans are cooked when they mash easily with a fork
Beans, Water, Cook Time and Use
|Bean (1 cup)||Water||Cook||Notes|
|Black-Eyed Peas||Cover by 2"||30-45 Minutes||Usually cooked with hambones or bacon|
|Black Turtle||3 cups||60-75 minutes||Strong earthy flavor, use in soups, dips|
|Cannellini||Cover by 2"||30-45 Minutes||Use in minestrone soup, salads|
|Cranberry||3 cups||45 minutes||Have a creamy texture and nutty flavor|
|Garbanzo||3 cups||2-3 hours||Chickpeas, Falafel, hummus, soups, salad|
|Great Northern||3 cups||90-120 minutes||Used in cassoulets and stews|
|Kidney||3 cups||~ 90 minutes||Used in chili, refried beans, soups|
|Lentils||3 cups||30-45 minutes||Dahl, used in side dishes, soups, stews and salads|
|Lima||3 cups||~ 1 hour||"Butter Beans", used alone or in soups|
|Navy||3 cups||~ 90 minutes||The common bean, soups, salads and chili|
|Pinto||3 cups||~ 90 minutes||Use in chili, refried beans. with Rice|
|Split Peas||3 cups||~60 minutes||Used in soups and stews, green or yellow|
I have not addressed any cooking methods beyond the classic boil then simmer, not have I addressed any seasoning, flavoring or techniques, those are for specific recipes.
The overall goal of this post is to convey the concepts of portioning to a desired yield, long term storage methods, bean types and basic uses. This is NOT an all inclusive list, do the basic research on each type of bean and do experiment.
One must note that the most nutritionally dense beans are, Garbanzo, Black, Pinto beans and Lentils.
- Before rinsing, sort the beans and remove debris or damaged beans
- Rinse the beans well to remove surface dust and contaminants
- Soak the beans for at least 6 hours in triple the volume of water
- Do not add salt or acid until the beans are tender
- Use fresh water to cook
- Bring the beans to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for specified time
- 15 minutes before time, test the beans for tenderness, they should mash easily
My various recipes for beans can be found here