I love beans of all kinds. They add substance to soups and stews and tasty bits to salads, and they make a creamy dip for vegetables or a chunky spread for crackers or toast.
With chemicals possibly lurking in the lining of food cans, I’ve turned to cooking beans from scratch. Dried beans store well in airtight containers, so I keep a variety of different shapes and sizes within reach.
Compared to just opening a can, cooking dried beans sounds like a time-consuming job. But I have found ways to make home-cooked beans work for me:
- Cook a lot of beans at once, store airtight in the fridge, and add to other dishes.
- Pour boiling water over dried beans and soak on the kitchen counter for at least an hour or cover with filtered tap water and soak overnight (if not cooking them the same day, you can chill soaked beans for up to 2 days).
- Use a pressure cooker to cut down on cooking time.
- Add rice, wheat berries, or other grains plus vegetables, herbs, and spices to make a bean stew that we eat as is and then as a “sauce” over cooked pasta or cooked veggies.
The fresher the beans, the faster and more evenly they cook. Picking a store where there’s rapid product turnover helps to ensure that the dried beans aren’t old.
I’m lucky because Phipps Country Store—a farm that grows and sells familiar and specialty bean varieties—is located nearby on the California coast about halfway between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. Inside, you are reminded of what a Western town’s old-time one-stop general store must have been like: open wooden bins with beans of all sizes, colors, and shapes; tables of fresh produce; and shelves with soup mixes, condiments, herbs, spices, grains, rice, flour, honey, and so on.
I always leave with many pounds of beans and hope that I purchased enough to last until my next visit!