Dried Bean Novice

Posted by Peadar Rice at

For convenience, I have always used beans straight from a tin. We're not a vegetarian family but we only eat meat twice a week, so the other 5 days are taken up with fish and legumes. We love our beans in this house, cannellini, butter, borlotti, red kidney and lentils, but I had never tried dried beans before now. I was delighted to be asked by Small Changes to try out dried cannellini beans. I will be using them with leftover baked ham, from our Sunday dinner, to make a ham & bean risotto, for Monday's meal.

On Sunday night I pre-soaked them with one cup of beans to 3 cups of water, or thereabouts making sure that the beans were covered. Soaking the beans for at least 12 hours helps to speed up the cooking process and yes this is really necessary but worth it in the end

Early on Monday morning I thoroughly rinsed the soaked beans before putting them back in the pot and covering them in 2 inches of water, just covering the beans. I didn't add any salt, as apparently it can slow down the softening process during cooking.

I brought the beans to a boil, skimming off the foamy froth several times before reducing the heat to a simmer. I checked them regularly, stirring gently and also making sure that the water didn't get to low. If this happens, just add more.

The recommended cooking time is between 60-90 minutes. I left mine cooking for 75 mins, which in hindsight might have been a bit too long. Perhaps, with the over night pre-soaking, 60 minutes might have been sufficient, I'll know better the next time. The beans are cooked when you can mash or pierce them with a fork, so check regularly towards the end.

And that's it folks, all cooked and ready for an amazing, dinner, lunch or snack. I cooked the full pack of Cannelini Beans (500g) and the best bit is that I was able to freeze, yes freeze the remaining cooked beans that I didn't use. I put them in ziplock bags and now have them ready for my next culinary delight!

In my opinion, dried beans are much better value for money and although you might think that pre-soaking and cooking them will be time consuming, I had them cooked and cooling before 9 am on Monday morning. I also have plenty left for a few more dinners, whereas a tin of beans would be gone in one sitting. Good news for my purse!

This article was kindly submitted by Sunniva Egan Kenny

Click to see Sunniva's Ham & Bean Risotto recipe

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