Saturday, February 25, 2017

Easy in the Kitchen: Slow Cooker to Make Homemade Beans

Programmable Slow Cooker
Yes, I admit it. I have 2 slow cookers and I use them both regularly. Easy in the kitchen is my preference and I'm going to review with you how I make things easier with my slow cookers. They aren't just for making dinners anymore. There's plenty to enjoy about slow cookers.

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.

Homemade Beans


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
  • Chickpeas
  • 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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6 comments:

  1. I know many people who couldn't manage their cooking chores without a slow cooker. My daughter, who works full time, finds hers helpful to have dinner ready when she gets home from work. My brother and sister-in-law, who are retired, but would rather do other things than be stuck in the kitchen for hours. I keep saying I need to get one and your 'easy-in-the-kitchen' mantra is convincing me, Susan. Thanks for the review.

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  2. Wow! How foolish I feel right now. I have never considered canning my own beans and yet I certainly have canned my own jam. I believe I shall pull out my crock pot and start today. What a fabulous idea. I also have two slow cookers, although mine are so old they are actually crock pots with the ceramic "bowls". I don't have one of the new slow cookers with the metal interior. I just might need to treat myself to one soon.

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  3. I use my slow cooker frequently, but I've never used it for beans and certainly have never thought to freeze beans for later. And we love homemade beans! Thanks for the reminder and the very simple instructions!

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  4. I would not be without my slow cooker either, I love walking back into the house when you've put something in the slow cooker before leaving. The aroma is mouthwatering (even if I'm just making vegetable stock!). I actually cooked up pinto beans in mine a few months ago for the first time and still have a couple of frozen bags in the freezer.

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  5. Slow cookers and beans... two of my favorite things.

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  6. Well, this is certainly something I never thought of. What a great idea, and thanks for the tip with the parchment paper.

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