Recipe: Basic Beans

I have nothing against canned beans in a pinch, but I prefer to cook my own because I can make them with less salt and more flavor. I make large batches, then freeze portions in 1- or 2-cup containers for use in recipes or to heat up as a  side dish (or, better yet, as refried beans). If you don’t have a big freezer or don’t use a lot of beans, adjust the amount of beans and additions accordingly. Here’s my method: 1. Put 4 cups of beans (about a pound) in a large pot (4 quarts or larger). Here I used 2 cups pinto and 2 cups black beans.

image 2. Cover with 2 or 3 inches water. Soak overnight.

image 3. Drain off most of the soaking water. Add additional water to cover the beans by two or three inches. 4. Add some aromatic vegetables and spices to the pot. Here I used:

  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • Carrots, minced
  • Bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Spike Salt-Free Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon dried garlic
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or olive oil. This helps prevent excessive foaming while the band’s is cooking.

image Note: If you want to remove the vegetables and seasonings at the end of cooking beans, chopped the vegetables into a few large pieces that you’ll be able to quickly fish out, and tie smaller spices in a piece of cheesecloth. 5. Bring the pot to a boil. Then lower to a simmer (lid on but cracked open to allow steam to escape from the pot) and cook for about 40 minutes. Beans should be firm but not hard. 6. Add 2 teaspoons salt. image 7. Simmer for about another half hour until beans are tender, not mushy. 8. Let cool. Then use in recipes or freeze in portions for later use. Store the beans in some of their own liquid. It adds flavor to soups and  is needed if you’re making refried beans.

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