Saturday, 8 October 2011


I used to be a tinned bean sort of gal. It was convenient. You just open the tin, plop ‘em in a colander, give ’em a good rinse and shake and you’re sorted. This used to be Spiderman’s job as I struggle to use a tin opener (don’t ask.) But over time you start to look at how heavy they are to carry home from the shops--we are car free so you can only buy what you can carry. Or how the cheaper the tins, they smaller and grainier and mushier the beans seem. You think, “Hey ho, I guess that’s the price you pay if you want to save money.” You also start to look at how expensive they can be if you want to buy the nicer brands. Over here I can only find black beans in the more expensive brand which costs 99p a tin.

That’s why I decided to start cooking my own from scratch. A bag of dry black beans costs 99p and I can make about 6 tins worth. Now that is a savings. But I was afraid it would be too much faffing about--I’ve not got time for faffing. But it really isn’t all that complicated once you get into a rhythm.

First you need to decide how much you want to cook. My theory is cook more at one time at eat it over several meals as cooked beans will keeping the fridge for 4 days. Here is the chart I use:
1/3 cup dry=1 cup cooked
½ cup dry=1 ½ cups cooked
2/3 cups dry=2 cups cooked
1 cup dry=3 cups cooked
2 cups dry=6 cups cooked

You have to remember to start the night before because they need to soak. After forgetting several times at the beginning and all the while muttering under my breath as I stomp my way to   the shops to purchase a tin of beans I developed the sign system. I have a sign that I stick to the back of the front door so I see it before I got to bed. It says:
Don’t forget to soak the beans
Before you go to bed! 
Here’s how to cook beans from scratch:

1. Measure out my beans according to what you want to cook over the next few days and dump them  in a pot then fill the pot with cold water.
2. Put the lid on the pot and trot off to bed.
3.  In the morning let them keep on soaking while you’re at work
4. When you get home drain them and rinse them really well and wash  the pot. This rinses away all the starches that cause you to fart so much when you eat beans. Remember that old rhyme?
Beans, beans
Good for the heart
The more you eat
The more you fart
The more you fart
The better you feel
So eat some beans at every meal!
Well now you won’t  fart at all (or as much) because you’ve rinsed them.
5. Put the beans back in the pot and cover with cold water and bring to the boil.
6. Boil for 10 minutes. You may see some white scum floating on the top--you can scoop it off or as it simmers it will absorb itself back into the water.
7. Reduce heat and simmer until the beans are cooked to your liking.

Here is a handy dandy chart to tell you how long to cook each kind of bean courtesy of

Today I made a boatload of chickpeas to be eaten over the weekend. I soaked 1 2/3 cups so I would end up with 5 cups cooked. I used 2 cups tonight to make chickpea cashew roast (recipe to follow) and will use 3 cups Sunday to make Thai Roasted Chickpeas.

Here are my dry beans: Please admire my jar which is reused from the white vinegar I use for cleaning. What a good recycler I am. *pats self on back smugly*
Here are my beans after soaking about 15 hours.  You could probably soak less--the packet just says “over night” but this is what works for me.

It is well worth doing it from scratch if you want to save mega money as well as end the need for grainy, mushy beans laden with salt. Fresh ones genuinely taste so much better.
Wait until you see what I did with them!

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