Beans: Cost or Convenience? Which Do You Choose?
I have lived much of my life going back and forth between convenience and being economical, when it comes to cooking beans.
I know that the cost of 1-pound of dry beans is approximately the same as a 15-ounce can of beans. Of course, if you have room to store a 50-pound bag and eat beans often, the cost per pound is much less.
But when is the cost of convenience more affordable than purchasing the most economical form, which equal amount in dried form will yield more than three times the amount of beans in a can?
All it takes is water and...
If you have not set aside the time for the preparation, the case could be made for the convenience of opening up the can of beans.
However, the only thing that is necessary to cook beans from their dried form is water. Of course, time and patience have to thrown into that mix.
Except for lentils, which do not require soaking and only take 30 to 40 minutes to cook, the minimum time to prepare them is 3 hours, if you use the quick-soak method and then cook them to a slightly firm texture. I prefer the overnight soaking method before cooking. (You can find how-to instructions in any cookbook or by doing a search on the Internet.)
A word of CAUTION!
It is important to note than many beans have a dangerous toxin that occurs in them naturally, especially the red kidney bean, which has the highest concentration of phytohaemagglutin (kidney bean lectin). If undercooked, eating as few as four or five beans can result in symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, as reported by Livestrong.com . They further state: "Fortunately, the USDA reports that most people recover rapidly and without the need for hospitalization," but advise calling your doctor should symptoms develop from eating undercooked kidney beans.
Planning ahead for your favorites
When I cooked for more than just myself, it was not uncommon for me to cook up a pound of dried beans, and then freeze them in 1- or 2-cup portions, adding a bit of the cooking broth, so they did not get freezer burn. If I were using the beans in a recipe that did not require the moisture, I would simply rinse it off, once thawed.
Cooking for one or two people, this method would be just as easy.
My favorite beans are pinto beans, having grown up in Southern California with a tremendous Hispanic influence in that region. A bowl of pinto beans served raw onions, hot pepper sauce, and corn tortillas is comfort food for me. It is probably one of the least expensive meals, as well, whether I use dried beans or the convenience of opening up a can of pintos.
Do you value your time or money more?
If a can of beans costs $1.00 and yields 1 to 2 cups of cooked beans (depending on the size of the bean, and minus the liquid) that you can use immediately, is the time savings worth it to you?
Or, if a 1-pound bag of beans costs the same $1.00, and you can prepare the beans in a few hours to yield 6 to 7 cups of cooked beans that you can freeze in similar portions to the canned variety, is the cost savings more important to you?
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Sources: Personal experience and http://www.livestrong.com/article/471606-are-red-kidney-beans-toxic/
Copyright ©2015 Coral Levang
Image Credit » http://pixabay.com/en/pinto-beans-beans-cooking-food-356622/