Local Beans: Easy to Cook & Good For You
At the farmers market, there is a world of variety when it come to beans. There are bush beans, wax beans, fava beans, string beans, and more. And while the seasons vary for fresh beans, dried beans are available at the market year-round. We love dried beans because they are economical, nutritious, and versatile. They stand alone in bean bowls, burritos and dips, and also pack protein into salads, curries, and soups. And they make a fantastic addition to all those fresh veggies you buy at the market.
When you buy dried beans from farmers, your beans are farm fresh. When compared to beans available in grocery stores, the difference in freshness is sometimes measurable in number of years! Freshness helps you in a number of ways – most notably, your beans are quicker to cook and also more easily digested.
There are only a couple things to know about how to prepare your beans when it comes time for cooking. First, cooking them doesn’t have to be intimidating – it’s easier than you think and you don’t need any fancy equipment. Second, it’s important to wash and then soak them before cooking.
- Pour your beans into a large pot (for quick soaking) or a bowl (if soaking overnight).
- Sort through your bowl and remove any shriveled beans, stones, or other debris. This step is a fun reminder that beans grow from the earth too! It’s also a great way to get your kids involved.
- Using cold water, cover your beans in excess of 2 inches.
- If you’d prefer to quick soak your beans, put the pot on the stove and set to medium-high. When the water boils, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and leave to soak for one hour.
- If you’d prefer a longer soak, leave them on the counter for at least 8 hours to let them do their thing. We like to soak them overnight or while we’re at work.
- Stove top:
- Once your beans are soaked, drain and rinse them in a colander. Pour them into a pot and cover them with fresh water.
- Place the pot back onto the stove. Set to medium-high heat. Bring water to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and allow to simmer.
- Stir your beans every so often. Check for done-ness after an hour of simmering and adjust cooking time as needed.
- Slow Cooker:
- Place soaked beans in slow cooker and cover with water. Cook for 6-8 hours on medium heat.
- Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot:
- For even quicker cooking, use a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, being sure to follow the instructions provided in your equipment’s manual.
- Incorporate aromatics like onion, garlic, herbs, or dried peppers to bring more flavor to your pot.
- Do not add salt or acidic ingredients until your beans are fully cooked. Adding too much salt or acidic ingredients to raw beans toughens the skins and keeps the beans crunchy.
- You can freeze your pre-soaked beans after rinsing them, covering in fresh water, and allowing them to cool (if you’ve opted for a quick soak). Store in your freezer for up to 6 months. This makes it so you can cook in smaller batches, which can reduce food waste. Pre-soaked beans can also be easily added to future soups without increasing cooking time too much.
- You can also freeze cooked beans with some of their liquid after allowing them to cool.
- Dried beans are SNAP-eligible and can be purchased with Double Up Food Bucks!
Where to find dried beans at the market:
- Sun Gold Farm (PSU, Shemanski Park)
- Old World Apples (PSU)
- Gee Creek Farm (PSU)
- Bethel Springs Farm (Kenton)
- N&N Amaro Produce (Lents International)
Have any unique tips on how you cook your beans? We’d love to know more in the comments section!
Freshly dried beans should not need presoaking. This could cause new beans to get mushy. I tell our customers to rinse and sort, boil for 15 minutes, then simmer for 45. Each variety can vary by a few minutes. Presoaking is usually advised if you do not know the age of the bean or the harvest years are blended together to move old beans. (Grocery store beans). The only way to know the age of beans is to ask the farmer who grew them.
Thanks for the info, Vicki!