Beans, Beans, the Magical…..

They’re not a fruit. Can we all agree that whoever started that song was completely left-field?

But they certainly are magical. Just a half cup cooked beans provides 8 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein according to the United States Department of Agriculture. And just like the color black, they go with nearly everything. In a later post, I will show you how to make delicious black bean brownies (my favorite!!), just to prove how versatile and delightful they are.

More often than not, the easiest way to get them into dinner is by opening a store-bought can and dumping it all into the pan. Of course, I’m not throwing shade on you non-frugal folks out there….okay, maybe a little. But its very well-meant, I promise!

Excepting a very brief raw-diet phase, I’ve never been hugely into dehydrating. But when I started running out of storage options for my millions of pints of beans, I had to get creative. Thus we have the dehydrated bean!

In short, here is the equation for dry to wet to dehydrated.

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6 cups dry = 7 pints wet-canned = 4 cups dehydrated

Still not convinced? Okay, here’s how I figure it works in the long run. You take 6 cups of dry beans which yields either 7 pints of canned beans or 4 cups dehydrated beans. I don’t know about you, but 4 cups dry-weight is a heck of a lot easier to store than 7 pints of water weight!

But, whether you like wet or dehydrated, I’ll show you how I do it both ways.

Canning Beans

You’ll need:

  • Slow Cooker
  • Pressure cooker
  • Pint or quart jars with lids and rings
  • 6 cups dry beans, sorted and rinsed
  • water to cover beans by 2-3″
  • salt (1/2 tsp per pint or 1 tsp per quart)
  1. Toss those rinsed beans in the pot and cover with water. Cook on high 3 hours, then low overnight (about 8 hours) stirring once or twice to check how they’re plumping up.
  2. The next day, get your canning pot full of boiling water and sterilize those jars! Get a few quarts hot in your pressure cooker too, it’ll save ya time.
  3. I like to spoon my beans into the jars leaving 1 1/2″ headspace (with 1/2 tsp salt) and then come back around with ladles of the “bean juice” to take it up to 1″ headspace (I’ve used plain water before instead of bean juice and it greatly changes the flavor for the worst–don’t do it!). No matter how cooked you think your beans are at this point, they’re still going to absorb more water while being pressure cooked.
  4. Wipe the rims, then lid ’em up and load your cooker. With the lid on, let steam escape for a full 15 minutes before adding the weight (according to your altitude of course). For me, I cooked my pints for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.WP_20160711_13_27_59_Pro
  5. Be sure to let everything cool before taking the weight off, before opening the pot and always let your jars come to room temperature before removing the bands and testing the seals. With any luck, they will have all sealed and you can safely store these in a cool, dark area for a year (if they last that long).

Now, if you want to be really cool like me, you can dehydrate your beans instead…

Dehydrating Beans

You’ll need:

  • Slow cooker
  • Dehydrator
  • Parchment sheets or jelly sheets provided by your dehydrator manufacturer
  • 6 cups dry beans, sorted and rinsed
  • Pint or quart jars with lids and rings
  • Blender or food processor (a bean masher works well, too)
  1. Toss those rinsed beans in the pot and cover with water. Cook on high 3 hours, then low overnight (about 8 hours) stirring once or twice to check how they’re plumping up.
  2. The next day, using a few ladle scoops at a time, puree the beans adding bean juice very slowly to make a thick pancake-batter consistency.
  3. With your dehydrator trays lined with parchment or fancy special liners, spoon out about 3/4-1 cup of bean paste and spread evenly.
  4. I have a Nesco dehydrator which told me to set the temp for 145*, and I let it go about 24 hours, rotating the trays and flipping some of the thicker chunks every few hours.
  5. Once everything feels really brittle and you’re confident the bean paste is dry, take it all out into a big bowl and let it cool. I crunched it up a bit before tossing the lot into the blender again. This final step will help to ensure even water absorption so your beans aren’t lumpy when you re-hydrate them.
  6. Place your bean crumbles into a clean quart (or pint) jar and refrigerate.

From here you could use a food-saver jar attachment with those neat oxygen absorbers, but it wouldn’t make sense for me because we go through beans so fast I’d never be able to dehydrate them quick enough to keep them on the shelf! But if you do want to preserve them like that, you’d be best off using jelly jars or pint jars (jelly jars make the perfect portion for a meal for two).

To re-hydrate your beans, use a two-to-one portion of water to beans. I find that using boiling water works best, letting the mixture sit for 5 minutes then microwaving for two minutes.WP_20160713_13_27_21_Pro

So far, this is the best method for my family. This quart jar in the picture didn’t even last two weeks!! Yes, it is an extra step and that extra step does use more electricity, but these beans sure do taste better than store-bought and you can bet they’re cheaper too.

Have you dehydrated beans? How did they turn out?

Love,

Betty XOXOXOXOXOXOXO

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Out Sick

Well, not really “out sick”, but I’ve definitely been very overwhelmed in the last few months. Little E, although amazing in every way, has proven to be a lot more than I thought I could handle. Not to begin a lesson in parenting, but seriously–NEVER underestimate the ability of a 0-8 month old to absorb your energy in every aspect of life. She still isn’t sleeping through the night, so you can imagine my reserves have been quite low for a long while now. And now with another little one on the way — SIGH — time to move on!

Since my previous posts in February and March, a great deal has happened here on the homestead. The chicks all hatched healthy and happy and are with their new family. Our own were unfortunately eaten by a combination of raccoons and a fox so all we have left is the Muscovy duck. The newest piggy made her debut as the main course for our traditional Fourth of July party (and was very tasty). The garden, though alive, is quite choked with weeds that I can never manage to stay on top of (I blame pregnancy). Hubby and I cut down our one apple and three pear trees with the sad lot only giving us 23 itty bitty pears.

Its been a weird few months, and I dearly miss my Rex (Barred Rock rooster). But life goes on! I’ve been trying to work more and more on food preservation and frugality with our limited grocery budget so you should expect to see some posts of that nature coming soon. I promise not to publish any of my horrible cooking recipes that I swear Hubby only eats out of sympathy for me. Any requests for posts are gladly welcome!

 

Love,

Betty XOXOXOXOXOXOXO

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Little E loves to help with dinner prep ❤

DIY Seed Growing Mat: Part 2

Continued from the previous post, here are a few more things you will need to finish your seed growing mat (very sorry about the delay in posting!!):

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I love my new box cutter from Hubby!

 

  • beginning of pad from Part 1
  • duct tape
  • box cutter or knife
  • cardboard boxes
  • waterproof cover
  • seeds
  • seed growing pods
  • potting soil

With your lights settled into the channels, lay down and tape together your deconstructed cardboard boxes. They should reach edge to edge on your mat surface so you don’t get plastic melting onto a light bulb. Then, cover the whole set up with your water proof covering–I had a medical tarp and it works perfectly. Then all that’s left to do is fill your pods with soil and seeds and give it all a gentle spritz with a water bottle. This is where I really have to practice a lot of self-control, but a very helpful post from The Country Basket taught me that the soil just needs to be moist or damp–NOT WET–for the seeds to sprout and take root. Later comes the actual watering, but for now just spritz the soil to keep it damp.

The materials I have used for this project were all free minus the pack of foam. Sure, you could make a really awesome version with all brand-new and longer lasting materials or buy manufactured heating pads, but if you already knew what you were doing, you wouldn’t be here reading my blog would you? Cardboard combusts at around 475 degrees Fahrenheit, Styrofoam is around 375, and standard indoor Christmas lights only reach 240 degrees if you have a ton of them strung together. I only have four strands and since the surface only gets about as warm as the top of my dryer in the middle of a cycle, I’m not too worried about leaving it on overnight. To be safe, I keep all other combustibles away from the unit and I swear on all things beautifully handmade that I will remove this post and warn all posterity in the event that anything catches fire. That being said–happy sowing everyone!!

Love,

Betty

XOXOXOXOXO

 

P.S. Since drafting this post, I had a question on the safety of chemicals being leeched into the air from the Styrofoam heating up. I dug around a bit and although I could not find any substantial evidence on temperatures and toxicity, I do recommend that you keep your growing mat out of living areas. Mine is in front of the basement patio door and the door leading upstairs is always closed during the cold weather.

P.P.S. While using this unit, my seedlings grew in a very reasonable amount of time, all healthy and normal so this is definitely a Tried-and-True project!