I'll admit it: I've avoided dry beans. Yet I considered myself an economizer! Even worse: I grow them in my garden too. I even shell them and store them. I enjoy their beauty, and then they peer at me from their glass jars in my pantry, just waiting, waiting for the day I'll get up my courage, look up a recipe, and get on with it already. Why am I telling you this?
I knew their benefits. I knew they cost next to nothing, that all the "work" was hands-off, that they're supposed to taste better than from a can, that they take up less space and require less packaging so they're more environmentally-friendly, that they really just aren't worry-worthy.
So what was the problem?
We're just monkeys: monkey-see, monkey-do, and I'd been deterred by lack of hands-on-experience. That great unknown.
Are you in that camp? What else are you afraid to cook?
With encouragement from co-workers, I'm over it and on board with dry beans! I'm hoping to provide the monkey-see example to help anyone out there needing a nudge - because we finally have local Iowa-grown dry beans in stock from Grimm Family Farm! We've never been able to offer Iowa-grown beans before (I know - we're in Iowa. Aren't beans - okay, of the soy variety - one of the things we're known for?) and we want to support these great folks in their farming endeavor. Meet them in the March/April Catalyst, just out!
What I found, is that with just a spot of planning-ahead, these local beans will surprise you – they need only a 2-4 hour soak (or just a quick boil, cover, and soak off heat 1 hour) and boil to tender in 30-45 minutes – though Jason actually says he cooks them without even soaking them first! He says he just boils them from dry and that they're done when you can crush them between your tongue and the roof of your mouth.
Consider cooking a big batch: fully-cooked beans freeze well for convenient use later, as in this blog post also including a slow-cooker method recommended by my co-worker, Jen.
This conversion table, below, made the whole game easier for me:
Be unafraid. It's worthwhile!
Black Bean Hummus (Vegan & GF with veggies)
Adapted from Bon Appétit, Apr. 1998
1 c. dry black beans (3 c. cooked beans)
½ c. tahini
¼ c. + 1 T. fresh lemon juice
¼ c. (packed) chopped cilantro
4 green onions, sliced
2 T. olive oil, plus garnish
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 t. ground cumin
¼ - ½ t. cayenne pepper
optional: roasted red peppers
to serve: paprika, raw veggies, pita bread (try our local pita from Hoard's Bakery!), anything you like with hummus
Note: For kiddos, reduce (or remove) the garlic and green onions. For yourself, feel free to increase them!
Soak dry beans in plenty of water for 2-4 hours.
OR bring them to a boil in plenty of water, remove from heat, and cover for 1 hour.
Drain, then boil in fresh water for 30-45 minutes. Drain.
Combine everything in a food processor until smooth.
Season to taste - you may like more lemon, more tahini, spices, etc. It is fully customizable.
Serve sprinkled with paprika and olive oil alongside veggies and toasted pita triangles.