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Make It From Scratch: Slow-Cooker Beans

September 16, 2015

This is part of a new series  - things that you may currently purchase, however, you really can make them from scratch.

In our busy lives it's difficult to find time to prep things from scratch, but sometimes it's worthwhile.  My purpose of this series is to share with you items that we've tried and liked so that you can either try them yourself to see if they fit into your lifestyle, or admire the photos and pin them for "someday".  :)  For instance, homemade butter.  My husband and I made it a few times and I've
shown how to make it {and I'll be updating the post soon}.  It's not something we will make regularly, but now we know how to make it and will continue to do so {if time permits} for special occasions.

I admit I have about 8 cans of beans in my pantry as I type this.  I've made them and put them in the freezer in the past, and have gotten out of the habit.  I'm trying to make it habit again because it is SO VERY simple and they freeze amazingly so you can make a big batch every month or two.

One of the issues I've had with making beans is that I forget to soak them.  When cooked in a slow-cooker, this isn't as critical because a slow-cooker cooks them nice and slow which means melt-in-your-mouth-like-butter beans.  That being said, if you or your family have intestinal issues {i.e. gas} from un-soaked beans, then definitely don't skip that step.

What I'm going to say next is very controversial amongst bean lovers....... prepare yourself.  Here it goes.  I add a pinch of salt to my beans prior to cooking.  Yup, I admit it.  Here's the thing.  I read in Cook's Illustrated some time back that it can help prevent blow-out beans and sure enough, since I've been doing this, I haven't suffered the terrible blow-out.   All kidding aside, try it if you'd like or skip it if you don't.

Slow-Cooker Beans

Any amount of dried beans you would like to cook {see **note below for red kidney beans}
1 teaspoon salt per pound of beans used
Extras, if desired for additional flavor:  bay leaf, minced garlic, peeled onion, dried herbs, smoked meats {ham hock}, etc.
Water to cover

Make-Ahead Freezer Beans

The night before {optional}:  Rinse the beans under cool water and pick out any shriveled bits.  Add to a bowl large enough for the beans and soaking water and let soak overnight, if desired, in water to completely cover.  Drain beans in the morning and discard soaking water before cooking.

Transfer the beans to the slow-cooker.  Add any extras and cover by about 2 inches with cool water.  Add salt and stir to dissolve.  Place lid on slow-cooker and cook on low 6-8 hours.

Cool, remove extras if needed, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer {I separate mine into serving size portions} up to 3 months.

*For your first time using your slow-cooker for cooking beans OR a new type of bean, check after 5 hours, and every half hour or so until they are cooked to desired texture.*

**If you are cooking Red Kidney Beans in a slow-cooker, boil first for 10 minutes prior to adding to the slow-cooker to neutralize a toxin they contain, phytohemagglutinen, which is known to cause acute intestinal stress.**


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