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Old 10-03-2014, 01:02 PM   #1
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Beans: dry vs. canned?

Hi:

I use beans fairly regularly in cooking (usually black and garbanzo), but I always use canned.

I'd say that about 95% of the time when I cook, it's for 2 or 1, so I tend to "fly by the seat of my pants" when figuring out what to make. This makes dry beans tough for me, because they take so much forethought and time with the soaking in water and all that.

I'm looking for comments from those of you who are familiar with both canned and dry; specifically, how "worth it" is it to go the long route? All comments welcome.

Thanks
Matt

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Old 10-03-2014, 01:03 PM   #2
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Oops, wrong sub-forum...
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Old 10-03-2014, 01:12 PM   #3
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You will get a variety of opinions on this For me, it's not worth the trouble. Cooks Illustrated recently did a taste test of cannellini beans and determined that canned were better because the manufacturers use higher quality beans to start with and the dried product can be many months old before someone buys and uses them, so they didn't cook as reliably. But others feel differently.
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Old 10-03-2014, 01:37 PM   #4
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Interesting. How about the salt that (usually) gets added to canned goods? When I eat canned beans, I don't think they taste "salty", but then again, I never thought canned peas tasted salty either until I tried "low sodium" canned peas and they were the most bland, flavorless mush I've ever eaten.

That experience leads me to believe that the canning process "colors" the flavor greatly, even if the saltiness isn't blatantly obvious at first.

So you're saying that even with the necessary evils of canned goods and these sorts of additives, they can still rival beans prepared from dry, even though with the latter you get full control of what goes into the food?
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Old 10-03-2014, 01:51 PM   #5
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I use both.

I tend to use the canned beans in the summer months and the dried beans in the winter. When I cook up a batch of dried beans I use the extra broth/cooking liquid to make a small pot of soup.

When I cook beans from scratch I always cook extra and freeze them in two cup containers. The frozen ones are just as convenient, for me, as the canned ones.

Do some experimenting and see what works best for your situation.
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Old 10-03-2014, 01:57 PM   #6
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I'm not sensitive to salt, so that doesn't bother me. In fact, I'm a salt fiend - I love crunchy kosher salt and flavored salts. While you can control the amount of salt added when you cook them yourself, I think most people will agree that beans need to be seasoned with salt in order to taste their best. Whether I do that myself or the manufacturer does it isn't a big deal to me.

I also don't think canned goods are evil in any way. They taste good and they're good for you. For me, canned beans are handy and I'm not concerned about the calcium carbonate and salt added to them. Cooks Illustrated magazine, from America's Test Kitchen, came to the same conclusion. I've used dried-bean and pea mixes for soups and often end up with blown-out or undercooked pieces and I'm not crazy about that. Other people feel differently and that's okay.

If you want to use dried beans in a shorter amount of time, there are two ways you can go:
- You can "quick-soak" the beans: cover dried beans with water, bring to a boil, and boil for one minute, then turn off the heat and let them sit, covered, for one hour. Drain and continue with your recipe.
- Get a pressure cooker and cook them with that.
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Old 10-03-2014, 02:02 PM   #7
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I'm with Aunt Bea.
We use both.
I love black beans and most every time we make them, they come from a can. We doctor them up with sofrito to give them an ethnic taste. Cuban style to exact.

We also make dry pinto, 15 bean and great northern.
These are cooked with smoked ham hocks or smoked turkey parts and are the main meal when served.
The black beans i mention above are served over rice as a side dish.

We freeze leftover cooked beans (not the canned) in three persons serving size.
Its real nice to be able to have homemade beans and some good bread in a jiffy.

They both are good and using both would be my suggestion.
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Old 10-03-2014, 02:23 PM   #8
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I make up a batch of beans once a week to have on hand for quick, inexpensive lunches. I'd say that about 90% of the time I use dried beans.

I really don't find there to be that much planning involved. Before I go to bed on Saturday night, I put the beans in a pot and cover with cold, salted water. When I get up Sunday morning, I drain and rinse them, and replace with fresh salted water. Then I simmer them on low until done (depending on the type of bean, this can take anywhere from one to two hours). While they're cooking, I have my breakfast and do some work around the house. You don't have to hover over the pot or stir very often.

Once they are cooked, you can add or do anything you want to them, or just store them in the fridge. Sometimes I add meat; sometimes not. I almost always add some sauteed aromatics, such as onions, garlic, chopped bell pepper, tomato (just don't add tomato before cooking them), etc. I like the seasonings pretty simple.

I have nothing against canned beans, per se. But I do find the texture to be somewhat mushy compared to dry cooked beans.
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Old 10-03-2014, 03:06 PM   #9
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Salt in canned beans shouldn't be an issue since the first thing you do eith dried beans is to add water and salt.

I recommend you prepare the same recipe twice. Once with dried beans and again with canned beans and compare the results. Only you can decide if the difference is worth it for you.
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Old 10-03-2014, 03:14 PM   #10
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Undoubtedly prefer to cook them rather than buy canned. Much less expensive to buy the dry product and I can control how they are seasoned.

A pressure cooker can take a lot of the time out of cooking beans. There is even a method to cook unsoaked beans in one. This will cook the beans and make them tender but at the risk of splitting some of them in the process.

There is also a method to "quick soak" beans by boiling the soaking water and pouring that over the beans instead of cold water. Takes around 2-3 hours that way.

Soaking the beans for 24 hours in the fridge can help lessen the effects of the "musical fruitiness" often associated with beans.

Just my 3 cents.

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