Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Families are Forever, but beans are not.

Another reason I got interested in vegetarian cooking is its relation to food storage.  You can't dry-pack meat.  And I found, once I was baking with whole grains, that I was halfway completing a protein vegetarian-style anyway.

The other half would be a vegetable, or beans.  Beans were what I had in storage.  There was a time during my husband starting his business, that I was cooking from my food storage more than adding to it.

And that's when I found out beans aren't forever.   I had bought black beans--my favorite--at the grocery store, in those one-pound packages, before we'd moved to that house.  But in my years of extravagant living in that house, I'd been using pre-cooked beans from a can.  The dried beans I'd had at least two years, but certainly less than five.  I soaked them overnight, cooked them the next day, and those dried beans didn't soften a bit.  I think I ended up raiding my limited supply of canned soup for dinner that night.  Don't like the kids to go hungry, you know.

Next I experimented.  Soaked for 24 hours.  Started cooking them early in the morning.  They simmered until I went to bed, still hard as rocks.   Marbles.  Diamonds.  I gave up.

It's not like I didn't know how to cook beans.  I didn't put salt in the water or anything like that.  Before children when I had been actually vegetarian, I had been soaking and cooking a pot of beans successfully every week.

I threw the rest out and got new dried beans.  The new beans cooked fine.

Rotate your beans, people.  They're great in food storage, eat them a couple times a month.  Make bean-bags, toy dolls, or art projects out of the old beans if you can't throw them out.  If you have a lot of old beans, I suppose they might make good ground cover for a garden path.

Just don't try and eat them.

Can I get a witness? Miss Vickie agrees with me.


M said...

Ha! "Rotate your beans, people!" Very funny. I hate cooking beans all day and ending up with hard beans.

But I have way, way, way too many to rotate well. And yet still not enough to sustain us long if we ever had a true food crisis.

FoxyJ said...

I've had a similar problem with beans and came to the same conclusion. Do you know how long they last sealed in the #10 cans? Also, I've fallen in love with cooking beans in my crockpot. They can sit all day and cook and low and usually end up getting nice and soft at the end of the day. I was so grateful as an adult to discover that I liked beans after all, since my mom never cooked them enough and they were usually a little bit crunchy.

Elizabeth-W said...

Ok, now I'm going to have to try the ones I have in bags to see how they do. And I'm going to have to try the crockpot path--I'm betting that gets a good result.

Angie said...

Did you try soaking them in baking soda?

Johnna said...

Hi Angie,

I didn't try baking soda--I'd heard that it doesn't work, and after two runs at cooking beans, I was content to buy a new bag for a dollar.

Something I didn't think of until just now--I was living in Indiana and the water was fairly hard. That may have been a bigger factor than the age of the beans. Also something to think about in terms of food storage beans.