Beans 101

If you think beans are gross, you're in for a surprise! Photo c/o

If you think beans are gross, you're in for a surprise! Photo c/o

Having beans in your pantry isn’t appealing to a lot of people. Mostly though it’s because the thought of eating them exclusively long-term causes them to prefer death. So allow me to fill you in on some of the basic information about cooking with beans, storing them, sprouting them, etc.

Believe it or not but beans can be a comfort food.

A study conducted at Weber State University showed that when eaten in a thick soup-like or paste consistency, beans have a positive effect on the endorphins and serotonin produced in the body. And yes, the rumors are true, you CAN make really yummy cookies, brownies and fudge with beans! So imagine what the endorphin levels may be in that kind of combination?

Beans are also incredibly nutritious. Most beans only contain 2-3% fat. They not only don’t have any cholesterol, but they actually help to lower your cholesterol levels because of their rich source of fiber. They are also high in protein, Vitamin B, good carbohydrates, and iron.

The cost of beans has held rather steady over the last two decades for consumers. Even today a serving of beans can be as low as 10 cents compared to several times that amount for cheese or meats. If you’re able, buy bulk beans instead of pre-packaged ones. Doing so will save you about 70%.

Brightly colored beans photo c/o

Brightly colored beans photo c/o

When you buy beans, check the quality of them. They should be clean, brightly colored and rather uniform in size with no visible damage. Cracked or chipped beans indicate a low quality product. When you clean the beans, just give them a look over for any dirt or pebbles.

Because we eat so many refined foods, our bodies don’t regularly have the enzymes to properly digest beans and grains. So be sure to explore the use of the following tips when consuming them.

  • Sprout your beans. They are much easier for your body to assimilate when you ingest them this way as they shed off some of the gaseous components during the sprouting process. As you may have read previously, sprouting compounds the nutritional value of any seed, nut, whole grain or legume by as much as 600%! Remember also that when you sprout your beans, they become more of a vegetable rather than a bit starchy.  One 50 pound bag of beans will provide a family of four with one vegetable serving for a whole year if you sprout them! (1 tablespoon of beans yields about ¼ to ½ pound of veggies.)
  • Slow cook or pressure cook your beans. Cooking dry beans thoroughly is also important to being able to digest them properly.
  • Consume beans regularly several times a week. Start with small portions if you’re not used to it. Eating beans actually supplies your body with the necessary enzymes over time to be able to eat them more regularly.
  • Cook your beans with a bit of oil. This will help prevent the frothing of them while they cook so that you can cook them at a higher heat.
  • Soak your beans, if only for 30 minutes before cooking. Even a soak of only a half-hour will compound the nutritional benefits. You can do a “quick soak method” by adding 6 cups of water to one pound of beans. Bring it to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover and then let stand for one hour. Drain the water, add new water and then cook as you would normally.

When cooking your beans, keep in mind the seasoning strategy. You’ll actually get more flavor if you wait until they are just a bit soft before adding your seasoning. If you add the seasoning too early in the boiling water, you won’t get the permeated flavoring that you’re looking for. But if you add your seasonings freshly at the point in which the beans are a bit soft, they are better able to absorb the full, undiluted strength of the seasoning. Also, embrace using cloves when cooking beans. While such a combination may sound unusual, it’s actually a great marriage of flavors that I think you’ll enjoy.

Photo c/o Jud Burkett, The Spectrum

Photo c/o Jud Burkett, The Spectrum

When considering how much beans to have on hand for a year’s supply for your family, plan on a minimum of 1 pound per person per day. However, this amount includes your other fruits and vegetables (fresh, dehydrated, freeze dried, etc).  Considering that beans can easily be converted into a nutritious vegetable (via sprouting), I tend to lean heavily on the side of more beans in my pantry rather than canned vegetables. Remember, canned veggies contain only 40% of their original nutrition and then depletes over time. However, if stored below 70 degrees in a tightly covered container in a dry place, beans will keep indefinitely. When you expose them to high temperatures and humidity, the necessary cooking time will increase. But will not destroy them. However, concerns with this can be alleviated if you’ll simply use your beans regularly and thus rotate your food.

To help you enjoy them a bit more, I’m providing you with a couple recipes. I hope you enjoy them!

Pinto Bean Fudge

Mash together the following ingredients:

1 cup of soft pinto beans
¼ to ½ cup milk (you want the consistency of mashed potatoes
1 T. vanilla

In a double boiler melt 6 ounces of unsweetened chocolate and 6 T. butter.  Pour the chocolate mixture into the bean mixture.  Stir until slightly thickened. Work in 2 pounds of powdered sugar. Knead with hands and then spread on a slightly buttered pan. Refrigerate. Makes 3 ½ lbs. you can also add nuts. Enjoy!

Ranchero Beans

5 cups water
1 onion, quartered
1 clove garlic; peeled
1 carrot peeled and cut into chunks
2 C dry pinto beans (washed)
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper
½ t. ginger
½ t. salt
1 t. honey
1 cup salsa or mild taco sauce

In a blender place 1 cup of water, onion, garlic, and carrot. Pulse until vegetables are finely chopped. Place vegetables and 4 cups of water, beans, cayenne, and ginger in a 5-6 quart pan. Cover and cook for 8 hours or overnight in a 200 degree oven. Add salt, honey and salsa. Return to oven for at least one hour, and up to 4 hours. (To cook in a slow cooker, cook on high for 8 hours.) Add seasoning and cook on low as desired.

To adapt this recipe to refried beans, simply mash and then use. Add a bit of chili powder to taste as well. To convert into chili beans, simply add 1 ½ ounce package of chili seasoning mix, 16 ounces of canned tomatoes and ½ lb. of ground beef. Mix and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

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My daughter won first prize at the county fair with her pinto bean pie. Tastes very much
like pecan pie.

Preparedness Pro's picture

Connie, it's simply not fair for you to brag about something and not give us the recipe. Are you trying to kill us with anticipation? :-)

We love beans! Black beans in chicken tortilla soup, pinto beans in everything Mexican & garbanzo bean in pasta salads. I like to can them in the winter time in empty canning jars to have ready to eat on the shelf.
Thanks for the bean tickler...

I could be wrong but as I live "high" up I ordered I 5 gal bucket of precooked dehydrated beans ..... just in case I need some quick protein.....did the same with a pinch I may not have time to cook beans for all of the time it takes up here......forever....Yep am afraid of pressure cookers.......from way back......when my Granny's blew up!......Am getting better If there were someone around to teach me the "new" p cookers .... would love it .....but ....not going to happen...I know I need more....any suggestions that would help.....PS I sure would like the recipe for the bean Pie, know that is not going to happen

Beans are a comfort food for me! A bowl of pinto bean soup with ham hocks and cornbread ... mmmmmmmmmm refried beans and rice ... mmmmmmmmmmmm

I've told you before about how I'm working on stocking my pantry. My biggest problem with food storage is that my husband doesn't like ANYTHING. He won't eat vegetables, beans, soups, pastas, mushrooms, cheese -- nothing. He's not fat, he works out regularly, but his diet is just awful. He lives off of beef, chicken, peanut butter, bread, rice and potatoes. And everything has to be PLAIN -- no sauces, dressings or anything like that. OH and when I said he eats beef -- it can only be hamburger or steak -- no roasts, meatloaf or meatballs. He is literally REPULSED by vegetables to the point where he will become nauseated if he has to even TOUCH a cooked one. How psycho is that? Does anyone else have a problem like this? What should I do?

I like the bean post, one of the things I have struggled with is using them. In our area, PA, beans are not used that often. Except baked beans and that is from canned beans. I'm going to try the ranchero beans this weekend.

I have a question, should you really have one pound per person per day?
I love beans but that seems like a crazy number. You stated that 50 lbs. would provide enough sprouts to cover vegetable needs for a family of four for 1 year, so that means for that same family you would need 4x365=1460 lbs of beans. 50lbs would be for vegetables leaving 1390 lbs for eating? Is that right? I would love to make sure we have enough for one year, but this seems a little high. 1 cooked 1 1/2 pounds of garbanzo beans yesterday and got 10 cups of beans out of it. Doubling it to 3 pounds would fit in with the scenario above, but would be 5 cups of beans per person, Per day. Wow!

Preparedness Pro's picture

Hey Heidi, as stated in the article, the 50 pounds per person is fruits and vegetables, not just beans. And yes, a pound per person per day of fruits and veggies is survival mode. All told with the fruits, veggies, including beans, I would be much more comfortable with 125 pounds per person, per year. Also, the 50 pounds of beans would provide ONE serving of vegetables per person, per day for a family of four, when sprouted. Obviously if it's in a soup, etc, you can stretch that out further. I was just referring to the sprouting.

Thank you!
125 seems much more doable than 365 per person, and much more realistic!

Preparedness Pro's picture

Glad I could help. Sorry it wasn't clear enough in the article.

My sister gave me some beans she canned and it is great to just open and make taco soup, chili, or whatever. I might try the fudge even though I really can't believe that it would be good. Thanks for all the info.

Beans also stick to your ribs, so that you don't get hungry as soon after eating. That makes them really good for emergency situations.

I have a wheat grinder that will also grind beans into bean flour. I use the flour to make quick creamed soup that really hits the spot. It only takes 3 minutes to cook, and has no fat in like the cream soups you buy.

I have more questions about storing these. I understand I should not have them stored with oxygen absorbers if I want to sprout. But I want a few buckets and I can put away for forget for years and years. Yes, you're probably cringing at this statement. And I know I'm risking a verbal beating for such statement, but I know others are out there thinking this:) This rotation is killing me. I'm willing to put a few dollars at risk for the "forget about it storage."

For those, will it harm the beans if they have oxygen absorbers and will it make them store longer? I'm thinking about buying a few super pails w/ mylar/oxygen absorbers that come ready to store. I'll have a separate stash for sprouting that is in my rotation.

And the same goes for wheat. I want to get a few super pails of this and forget about it too. Will the oxygen absorbers make it last longer? I don't have any of the d earth stuff you've mentioned and want to get a few prepacked pails.


Preparedness Pro's picture

If you insist on storing and not rotating *grin* then you're alright storing them in a bucket without an oxygen absorber. Cool and dry is the best, but I realize you get a little more heat and humidity in TX. Instead of doing an oxygen absorber, use diatomaceous earth. At least that way you're keeping them alive. You can also store them in mylar bags for more longevity. The same goes for wheat. If you don't want to use the DE, then at least use 5 bay leaves. But in my opinion, storing beans and wheat with an oxygen absorber is akin to hunting down a deer and just leaving it there. Doesn't do much good. :-)

Thanks so much. You went easy on me! How long would the beans last and still be edible? I know they'll get tough over time and at some point it is time to get rid of them and start over.

Preparedness Pro's picture

Stored cool and dry they will store indefinitely. However the more heat and humidity, the longer they will take for you to cook them requiring more water and more fuel. But they are still good.

What a great article! I had no idea I would need so many beans. We have close to 250 pounds which is good for hubby and I but that is it! Guess I need to be on the lookout for more sales on beans.
Thanks so much for all your work.

Preparedness Pro's picture

Keep in mind thta the 250 pounds is the amount you would want in total for fruits and veggies. So presuming that you also have canned veggies and fruits, you're probably doing fine, unless of course you're concerned about 10 kids or grandkids. hee hee

We started home storage this year. Beans is one of our basic foods. Economically beans allow us to build storage faster. Bulk beans go in 5 gal mylar bags then buckets. Wanted variety others bought lb by lb go in mylar bags - gal bag holds 5lb. We feel long term food is stored properly and safe from bugs & rodents. This makes cost for bags worth it. Bulk food we use now goes in buckets using plastic storage bags. My favorite bean dish is a sweet potato hash with black eye peas. Saute bacon or sausage, onion, red pepper and potato cubes until tender, add cooked or can of beans and heat through. Wonderful flavors this time of the year!

I have read on the internet that beans sold commercially won't sprout because they have been "treated". Not sure what that means. I buy in bulk from a restaurant supplier. Would these beans sprout? Should I give it a try and see what happens? Do I have to buy "special non-treated beans"?

Preparedness Pro's picture

Yes, I would give them a try. I have not run into that problem with beans. If they are precooked, then yes, they won't sprout.

Well they are dry beans. I'll give everyone a heads up. If it works or not. All natural bean you can buy. Gosh I knew I had a reason to buy all those jars, and cheesecloth.

We have a store that sells "16 bean mix" It's got everything form kidney, pintos,limas plus peas and I don't know what else. It's wonderful, just soak um or pressure cook and add in dehydrated vegies, meat, herbs anything and it's great. I think you could throw an old boot in with them and it would still be good. The broth is so rich and thick you can use almost like a gravy. I know you can google the mix. I'm lazy about buying each and mixing my own on this recipe. I will be building soups using this as a base, adding some dried herbs, spices, vegies and some bullion cubes in some nice decorative jars for gifts this year.
I'm like most you folks. Most of my family members think I'm nuts. But If I give them some basic mixes, ingredients and recipes. I know if bad goes to worse they will have a few meals. Plus they are very pretty with all the colors and are a great color accent to a kitchen. Just got to buy bows and ribbon LOL.

You talk about heat and humidity affecting the cooking time. What about cold weather. I live in rural Alaska and have been afraid to store anything in an unheated outbuilding. Our temperature is generally between 60 and -10 and low humitidy except for fall which is wet. I have limited storage space and would like to find something I can store in this building and not be as concerned with temperature fluctuations.

Preparedness Pro's picture

Personally, I would not hesitate to store whole grains or beans or powdered milk in that environment--not for a moment. I also have a girlfriend from there and she regularly stores her supplies such as beans in her unattached shed.

In the right situation you

In the right situation you would be smart to plant some of those beans instead of consuming all of them. 15-20 lbs of planted beans would become enough to last all year.

Can I sprout and eat any bean

Can I sprout and eat any bean out there? Or is there a list of beans that shouldn't be sprouted and eaten.


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