|Programmable Slow Cooker|
My two are different sizes. I have a smaller one that is a 4-quart cooker, and I have a larger programmable 6-quart size. I have made plenty of chilis, stews and soups in my slow cookers and I will continue to do so. The joy of tossing in all the ingredients, turn the thing on and come back to dinner ready to serve can't be beat. Plus, why not make enough for 2 or more dinners? That's easy in the kitchen in my book.
One of my favorite uses for my slow cookers is making my own homemade "cans" of beans. I was one of those people who would buy cans and try to force myself to use them. Sure beans are good for you, but I could never stomach the boring taste and slimy liquid canned beans were packed in. Discovering how to make my own beans made a world of difference.
- Black beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Pinto beans
- Navy beans or any white bean
I start with dried beans - so much cheaper! About 1/2 cup of dried beans will equal a standard can size of cooked beans (about 1 1/2 cups). My smaller slow cooker easily handles a cup and half of dried beans, so I make 3 "cans" of beans at a time.
Dried beans need to be soaked first, so I do this in my slow cooker. Usually overnight. Then drain and rinse the beans, put them back in the slower cooker, add enough water to cover the beans with about 2 inches of water on top, and cook. I set my slow cooker on high for 4 hours and the beans are cooked to perfection. If you have a programmable slow cooker, you can set it to cook the beans when it's most convenient for you.
Packaging Homemade Beans
Freezing your cans of homemade beans is the easiest option. I use half-pint mason jars which hold about 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans - the equivalent of a standard can. Remember to label them with the date as well. Frozen beans should last about 6 months. Of course, I can't ever test that out, I use my frozen beans too fast!
Here's an easy in the kitchen trick for you. With any frozen foods, top the food with a piece of parchment paper. That will prevent ice crystals from forming and will keep freezer burn out of your food.
Choosing a Slow Cooker
If you're in the market for a slow cooker, whether your first, second or ninth, there are things to consider before you buy. The options are numerous. You'll want to think about what size you need, what features will be helpful and what your budget allows. When you have the right appliance for the right cooking needs, you will have an easier time in the kitchen.
So stop depending on store-bought cans of beans. Make your own. Flavor them to your own tastes and enjoy healthy and delicious homemade beans in your slow cooker.
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