Summer Stockpiling - Plus Making Dried Beans in a Crockpot Tutorial

Tuesday, April 3, 2012
When I moved away from home, I realized there are a few of basic grocery items that I'm not used to buying. My family has a definite "homemade" mentality, and when I was growing up, pizzas and lasagnas weren't pulled out of the freezer or ordered; they were made from scratch. Store-bought bread was an oddity in our house and we never, ever bought jarred spaghetti sauce. It was a sad day indeed if we ran out of homemade jam and had to buy a jar of strawberry preserves, or heavens help us, grape jelly. To this day, grape jelly still tastes like sadness to me.

Now that I'm on my own, I find I also lean towards making things from scratch. It's cheaper. It tastes better. It's more satisfying. And let's be honest, when I work from home like I do the majority of the year, it's pretty easy for me to live a "made from scratch" life.

When I'm home all day, I just don't find it very time consuming to make things from scratch. Homemade bread may require 3+ hours of time, but it doesn't require my undivided attention that whole time. It's easy enough to mix up the dough and leave it to rise to rise while I go do something else, then return to shape loaves, leave again to do whatever, pop the bread in the oven and go do something else while the bread bakes. If I'm smart about it, I can get a good 2 hours of work done during the whole bread baking process. I make my marinara sauce by throwing all the ingredients in a crockpot and let it burble away for 4-5 hours for a total hands-on time of 30 minutes. In fact, I use the crockpot as shortcut for lots of "made from scratch" stuff.

If I'm making this all sound like a snap, let me assure you that it all goes to hell in a hand basket when summer comes around. By mid-August, between working full time and berry picking, I pretty much give up on making things from scratch and I'm buying bread and spaghetti sauce along with everyone else. So every spring I come up with this great idea that I'm actually going stockpile the ingredients I like to make myself in the freezer and have enough to last through the busy summer season.  Honestly, I've never managed to pull this off, but I persist in thinking it's a really good idea.

One ingredient I prefer to prepare at home are beans. It's about half as expensive to make your own cooked beans from dried beans, rather buying cooked and canned beans. You can also better control how much sodium's in your bean recipes by making your own beans. And you can cook up large batches, which saves me the trouble of having to buy canned beans nearly every week. (We eat a lot of beans.)

The other day we were running low on frozen beans, so I cooked up a batch each of kidney, pinto, and garbanzo beans over the course of three days. Here's a pictorial guide to the last batch, the garbanzos.

Take your bag of approximately 3-4 pounds of garbanzos (I purchase my dried beans at the local co-op), dump into a colander and rinse with cold water. Pick through the beans and discard any rocks or broken beans. Dump the beans into your crockpot and cover with about four inches of cold water. Cover and place in the fridge overnight. 

The next morning your beans will have doubled in size. Dump them into a colander, than back into the crockpot and cover with fresh cold water. I usually have the water covering the beans by about an inch at this point.
 

Turn your crockpot on high and walk away. I put an old towel around the base of the crockpot to soak up the water that will inevitably boil over. Be warned, bean water does not smell great, so you'll want to wash that towel that in timely manner. (Lesson learned.)
Check on your beans after about 4 hours. I find it takes most beans between 4-5 hours to reach desired tenderness using this method. It's okay to turn off the crockpot a little before the beans are as tender as you'd like. Like pasta, the beans will cook as they cool in the colander.

Pour into a colander (or two) and cool. Divvy up into 1 3/4 cup portions in freezer bags. Throw in the freezer. Now you have bagged and frozen equivalents of canned beans for half the price!

You can thaw out the beans in the fridge before you use them, but honestly, I'm never that organized and usually just throw them in frozen into whatever recipe I'm making and increase the cooking time a bit. Remember, these aren't salted, so you may have to add extra salt to your recipe.

Now I've got a good summer stockpile of beans, but there's plenty of bread baking and sauce making if I'm really going to make it through the summer . . .

 

14 comments:

  1. I think Mr. A does something like this at home. I really should watch him so I can learn.

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  2. You are so clever! I never tried cooking them this way. I will defiantly try this soon.

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  3. I love "grape jelly tastes like sadness"! So true even if you didn't grow up with 100% homemade jam.

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  4. I'm always trying to stockpile things. And I'm with you on making things myself. I did however give in to bread when John got me a bread maker, still homemade but less time involved in mixing and kneading. I'm hoping to continue having time for these through the summer, although with a new babe might be tricky. We will see how it goes!

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  5. sounds like you make good use of your time! For me, its whatever I'm in the habit/ routine of doing. I used to make dried beans all of the time, while I was home, but lately I always fail and grab a can at the last minute.

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  6. I just made my famous Salty Beans last night. I have wondered if I'd be able to use the crockpot to cook beans but have been too lazy to Google it. thanks for this!

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  7. Dry beans are great. They are easy to grow, easy to store, easy to cook, eat or freeze. A year ago, I got a new pressure cooker. Not at all like the scary type your mother or grandmother might of use. I soak two cups of black turtle beans overnight then put them in the pressure cooker with three cups of water. Once the cooker is up to temperature the beans are cooked in six minutes! Now that's easy! I highly recommend getting a pressure cooker. It makes great meals in minutes. The brand I bought was Fagor, Duo 5pc set. Here is a link to the one I bought. http://www.cooking.com/products/shprodde.asp?SKU=300495#axzz1r5Ea6Yt9

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  8. I am always intimidated by dry bans- so this is great! Thank you for sharing!

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  9. stumbled onto your blog via the blog hop and just wanted to leave you a little blog luv! Def enjoyed this post!! new follower :-)

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  10. I am such a fan of garbanzos. Become fond of them when living in Spain. My fav Spanish Winter dish: chicken soup with garbanzos and a bit of white wine. I am very much like you = only work with dried beans = except that I dont boil and freeze them. The portion I want to use I soak over night - outside the fridge in hot water and use them straightaway.
    Over the years I strated to reduce the use of my freezer. Not only because of the electricty bill but not having enough space in the first place. So canning and keeping in dried became the way for me. Oh, homemade mraiana is simply the best. I collect all jars and pressure can mariana twice a year.
    I so relate to the satisfying feeling.

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  11. I love the idea that they cost half the price of canned beans, but even more, I like that the beans won't be coming out of a can. We have a lot of canned goods and I'm always trying to find space for them. Sometimes I forget about them too!

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  12. How funny! Great instructions! I was literally just about to write about how to make crock-pot beans and now I can't. You just did it too perfectly. Maybe I'll just link to you instead. :)

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  13. Mom always cooks beans, bakes bread, and makes things from scratch too. I love it and hope to continue that when I move out... It just tastes so much better.

    Good luck making it through the summer! (:

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  14. Ada, kudos to you for fresh food preperation. I never thought much about it but once we figured out how to rehydrate dried beans we stopped buying canned and I think they taste so much better. If you don't have th time to cook them right away you can also freeze them after the soak and drain.

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