Posted by: Rachael | March 13, 2008

bean basics

You just take a can off the shelf, use a special opener and pour the contents into a pot to heat – alternatively, eat them cold or between two slices of bread and call it a sandwich.


That’s not baked beans.

Once upon a time we were new to a church. We invited a family round for dinner and I served baked beans; homemade baked beans, that is. As we sat round the dinnertable, Guest-Wife proceeded to inform me that there is one food Guest-Husband would not eat, and that was baked beans. But he didn’t go hungry that night. And I know he wasn’t just being polite, because he came back for seconds. Baked Beans Out Of A Tin just cannot compare.

Fast forward almost a decade. Same church. Sunday morning. LadySlim approaches. She smiles apologetically and excuses herself for reading my “blog, is it? I’m not too familiar with these new things.” She has a question. A question about beans. Because she has peeked into my online life and virtual cupboards she knows I use beans a lot….and she decided to give it a go too, but discovered cans of kidney beans are just as expensive as meat. With frugality in mind, she knew there had to be another way. Problem was, she didn’t really know what to do with beans, plain beans, dry beans, raw beans, what are they called anyway?

The long answer involves different cooking times and soaking times and some people say to bathe in the soaking water and some say cook with it……I just told her…….get some dried beans (any sort, doesn’t have to be kidney beans….try black beans, pinto beans, borlotti beans, lima beans, chickpeas……I told you this would be the basics!) and soak them overnight in lots (they’ll expand, you see) of water and a bit of lemon juice or whey (if you’ve got it lying round – I do)…..pour off the water (on the garden if you want to be truly thrifty) and add some fresh water and then either throw them in the crockpot (so I don’t boil the pot over, which I do Every Single Time I try to boil beans on the stove for an extended period) or bring them to the boil and simmer for twenty minutes and then transfer the pot to a cooking bag (you could try wrapping a feather duvet round the pot – that’s what they do in Russia, I’m told, and I’ve seen it done in Poland). After a few hours you’ve got your beans all cooked and ready to use just like the bought ones. But without the tomato sauce. And you can make a much nicer sauce without added salt and sugar and numbers and colourings and flavourings and food enhancers and stabilisers (get the message?) I promise you can. You could try these recipes, for starters. Or just add them to a stew to stretch out the meat or turn them into a spread or add them to nachos… get the idea. This post was just the beginning.



  1. Great read.
    Highly recommend this site – it is tops.
    It is early morning here in Aussie and I’m hungover from the Flu so will make further comment when I feel a little better up to it.

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