We eat a lot of bean-based dishes, so even just replacing half of our canned beans with dried saves us several dollars a week. We use Bittman‘s dried bean cooking and storage method, and have found that, when cooked, the texture and taste of beans that have been dried is much better than beans that have been canned. You can also cut down on your sodium this way. Here’s the method we’ve been using (this can be used for any kind of dried beans and is best done on a day when you’re around the house):
1. Put a good pound or more of dried beans in good-sized stock pot with a lid and cover with cold water by 2-3 inches.
2. Bring to a boil; boil, uncovered for 2 min.
3. Cover the pot, turn off the heat, and leave it soaking for 2 hours.
4. Taste a bean. If it still has a long time to cook, add extra water so that the beans are covered by about 2 inches again. If it tastes nearly done, add a tiny bit of extra water so that the beans are covered by about 1 inch of water.
5. Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat and simmer. Check the beans every 15 minutes or so until they seem done. (If you plan on using them in soups you could stop cooking when they are still a little bit under-done.)
6. Drain off a good half of the cooking liquid, then using a soup ladle, ladle your cooked beans, and a little of their liquid, into 1-2 c. portions in little containers. Cover and freeze up to six months. When you want to use them, thaw them out and use them exactly as you would canned beans.
I think these containers were once used for frosting or jam or something, but they work really great for storing the beans. The beans in all these pictures are adzuki beans. We’ve also had great luck with black beans and great northern beans. If you do cannelini you might want to undercook them a bit; otherwise the freezing and thawing will cause them to fall apart.
Once again, I can’t understate the value of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. This cookbook has really simplified a lot of things for me and helped give me the confidence to try things I might never have tried before.