Kick The Can (Habit) And Slow Cook Your Beans

By Mr. Everest

Cooked beans are a staple in our family. Whether they’re pinto or black beans, we cook up a pot of beans at least once a week. Today, the house smelled wonderful as the beans cooked in the slow cooker with garlic and onions.

Nothing smells better than a pot 'o beans in the kitchen. Photo © Liesl Clark

For the past 3 years, we’ve gone plastic-free in the culinary arts so that means no canned food. Most cans have bisphenol A (BPA) in them which is an epoxy resin-like substance that is an endocrine disruptor and a chemical linked to cancer. Beans in a can are among the top BPA-laden canned foods out there. When we converted our kitchen over to a plastic-free one, canned beans were a favorite staple we had to rethink. But the Greek ancestry in me knew it wouldn’t mean we’d go without beans for long. My Dad always had a pot of lentils on the stove, so why not do the same with pinto and black beans?

Crock Pot Beans. Photo © Liesl Clark

Every few days I pull out the slow cooker, throw some beans in (say 4 cups-worth) add quadruple the amount of water, throw in a bay leaf from our friends’ tree, several cloves of garlic from our garden (whole cloves are fine), a few extra garlic skins, chopped onion, and about a teaspoon of sea salt. Each time I do it the recipe changes but this is a basic one that works. Put the cover on the slow cooker and let ‘er cook for about 18 hours or until your beans have reached their desired tenderness. No stirring is required. Just leave the slow cooker alone and enjoy the rest of your day.

Red onion, chives and garlic with black beans. Photo © Liesl Clark

We buy our beans in bulk, 25 lbs at a time, so they come to us in a big paper feed sack. We then store them in glass jars for easy access.

Bean Storage in Large Glass Jars. Photo © Liesl Clark

I tend to turn half of the cooked beans into refried beans (just mash ’em down as you fry them with a little more garlic and onion and add some cumin and liquid aminos for salt) and then make burritos or enchiladas that we can freeze for easy school lunches to reheat for the kids. We also make black bean soup with them or just a simple bean dip.

IMG_5177 Photo © Liesl Clark

These beans are always better than anything I’ve eaten from a can, and they cost about a tenth of the price. But the real benefit of kicking canned food is the mindfulness of slow-cooking and making your staples from scratch. Cooked beans in a slow cooker are so simple, yet they require a few minutes of forethought and planning for the meals that your family will enjoy in the week ahead. Four cups of dried beans will result in about 8 cups of cooked beans, enough for a family of 4 to enjoy for a week in many different creations. As your home fills with the buttery and savory smell of cooking beans, enjoy the pleasure, as my Dad did, of slow-cooked food and the sweet time it takes for the flavors to blend together completely.

25 thoughts on “Kick The Can (Habit) And Slow Cook Your Beans

  1. Wow, I had no idea that BPA was used in CANNED goods! You just opened up an entire Googling frenzy on my part…lol. I will have to share this information with my wife and we will have to do some reevaluating. The Crock Pot is such a marvelous invention and we may have to look into switching over to dried beans. I’m curious, where/what type of store are you able to buy dried beans in such large bulk? Thanks for sharing this!

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    • Hi Frugal RN! Sadly, most canned foods do have BPA in them so we’ve switched over to a can-free life. As for where we get our dried beans: We get bulk foods from two sources. Our local store, Town & Country sells in bulk so we can get any amount of bulk food. If we just ask for a 25 lb bag, they’ll order it for us and sell it back to us at a discount. But we also get bulk foods from Azure Standard which is an organic farm in Oregon that delivers all over Washington State and the Northwest. They are decidedly the best source of bulk organic food around, as they grow most of their food, they make pastas, the source their rice from the Lund family in Northern California. Our zero waste endeavors have been greatly impacted by being able to get back to basics, as our ancestors lived, and we buy our bulk foods like pastas and grains, nuts and oils, twice a year and live off them all year long.

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      • That’s really awesome that you have been able to do that. Where we live here in South Dakota, there simply isn’t those types of options available. If, during our future travels when I begin travel nursing assignments, we fall in love with the idea of living in your neck of the woods, I will have to refer back to this for your suggestions. Thanks for the learning experience! 🙂

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  2. Gotta say… Not a fan of beans. Maybe its because I’m British… But if I can’t eat them raw then I generally don’t bother with them!

    I like Mexican food but I do have an annoying tendency of picking them out… This doesn’t get me invited out to Chiquitos very often! B-)

    Oh well… We all have our little peccadilloes!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I first converted from canned beans to using dried it was to stretch our food dollars. At that time I didn’t know anything about the lining in cans. Today I have a wide variety of beans in glass jars in the pantry for easy grabbing, purchasing mine in bulk as well. It continues to keep my food bill low and now I can smile at eliminating BPA from my meals too.

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  4. Pingback: 10 Toughest Steps to Reduce Your Plastic Footprint | Pioneering The Simple Life

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