by Jenny Underwood
mountain man beans in the pot.
- 2 pounds dry beans (pinto, kidney, white lima, and black)
- 1 pound hamburger, cooked and drained
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 quart canned tomato juice, canned crushed tomatoes, or salsa
- 3 strips bacon, fried crisp
- 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid amino acids
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- Soak beans overnight, or use one of the alternative preparation methods listed below.
- Add all ingredients to a large, heavy pot. Add enough water to cover the beans by an extra third. Cook on medium heat for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until beans are plump and tender and sauce has thickened. Keep a close eye on the liquid level and add water if necessary to prevent scorched beans. Alternatively, cook for 6 to 8 hours in a slow cooker on low, or 1 hour in a pressure cooker or electric pressure cooker.
- Serve with cornbread, fried potatoes, crackers, or tortilla chips. Leftovers can be frozen or canned.
Forgot to soak your beans overnight? Try this technique for cooking beans without soaking, and learn a few other methods for how to prepare beans.
Beans are one of the most versatile foods. Not only are they extremely healthy, but they’re also easy to prepare and store, and they’re delicious! They’ve also been around for a long time, and beans of various types have been a staple food in many cultures throughout much of history. They’ve even been found in the tombs of pharaohs!
Beans are one of my favorite foods. I love them in chili, soup, Mexican dishes, and especially with a slow-simmered venison roast and cornbread. If you’ve never prepared beans from scratch, you’re in for a treat. Homemade beans are much better than store-bought — although those can be used in a pinch — and they’re easy to prepare. Just follow a few special techniques to ensure you have delicious, tender beans every time.
Cooking Beans Without Soaking
First, make certain to soak and drain your beans. Many people believe this will remove much of the flatulence-causing sugar that gives beans a bad name and, in my opinion, soaking will make them taste much better. An overnight soak in salt water is great if you have time. If not, add your dry beans to a large pot and cover them with twice the amount of water as there are beans. Add a teaspoon of salt, and bring the water to a rolling boil. Cover the pot, and turn off the stove. Allow the beans to soak for 1 hour. Drain off the soaking water, and then the beans will be ready to cook. You can also freeze your beans after soaking and they’ll cook much faster!
If you can’t soak your beans, cook them using a pressure cooker or an electric pressure cooker for 10 minutes. Drain off the water, add plenty of fresh water and any desired seasoning, and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. A slow cooker or a heavy pot on the stove will also work well to finish beans. Just watch them closely and add water as needed. Beans should be very tender when done. Avoid cooking them on a high-heat stove, which can lead to boil-overs and scorched beans.
Canning Cooked Beans
You can also can beans so you have a stockpile of ready-to-use food that doesn’t need to be frozen or refrigerated. Before canning, soak your beans overnight and then rinse and drain them. After soaking, boil the beans in a large stockpot for 30 minutes and then drain the water off.
Wash your canning jars and lids in hot, soapy water and rinse well. Keep them hot until you’re ready to fill them. Fill the hot jars with beans up to about the top of the shoulder. Add boiling water, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Then, add salt at the amount of 1 teaspoon per quart and 1/2 teaspoon per pint. Next, remove any air bubbles by gently pushing a wooden skewer or knife along the inside edges of the jars. Wipe the jar rims with a vinegar-soaked cloth, and place hot lids and rings on the jars and finger-tighten.
Follow the directions in your pressure-canner manual for adding water to the canner and correctly assembling all the parts, as well as for altitude variations. Can your jars at 11 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes for quarts or 75 minutes for pints, checking for altitude variations. Once the pressure has dropped naturally and you’ve removed the weight, let the jars sit in the canner for an additional 10 minutes. Then, carefully remove the jars and allow them to sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seals, and immediately eat anything that didn’t seal properly. Label your jars, and store them in a cool, dry place.
Now, it’s time to put those beans to work! Feel free to swap out my suggested types of beans for whatever you like.
Spill the Beans
It’s no secret: Beans are a budget-friendly kitchen staple full of flavor and nutrition. As the weather cools down, warm up with these deliciously simple dishes that feature the humble dry bean.
Jenny Underwood is a home-schooling mom on a fifth-generation farm in the Missouri Ozarks, where she gardens, forages, hunts, and preserves food. Follow her at Inconvenient Family.