{community voices} No-Fuss Slow Cooker Beans

Editor’s Note: One month ago today, Gina M, a local blogger at ModSchooler and a guest contributor at Albany Kid, mentioned the idea of cooking dried beans in a crockpot in a comment. She mentioned it in response to Alexis’ wildly popular piece about White Bean Burgers. The moment I saw the comment I JUMPED.RIGHT.IN. to beg her to write a guest post on the method.

I love our {community voices} series for this exact reason:  food is a common thread weaved throughout all of our lives, and that we as a community can continue to educate each other on the ways of from scratch cooking! A commenter is now a guest contributor. Tada- A Community Grows on the Interwebs. I LOVE IT!

Dry Beans in the Crockpot- GENIUS! I had never heard of such a thing, and with HOT HOT HOT temperatures on their way to Upstate NY, who couldn’t use a “cooler” no-stove way to cook a big pot-o-beans. Thank you Gina & welcome to FSC. -Christina

One of the first staples that I started making from scratch were dried beans.  I found the canned versions to be unusable for the most part due to high sodium levels.  I also wasn’t thrilled with the texture, and noted that dried beans cost much less overall, especially organically grown varieties sold in bulk.  Sold!

I started out trying the typical method, soak overnight, cook on stovetop.  This sounds easy enough, but not in my household.  Lots of distractions, and lots of last minute schedule changes usually found me forgetting that something was soaking, or leaving the pot on the stove too long and ending up with burned beans.  If you soak too long, they start to ferment.  I tried a workaround by putting the soaking beans in the fridge one time, but I forgot and left them so long they actually sprouted!   Even when I tried the quick-soak method, something would get lost in the shuffle eventually.

After accepting the reality of my life, I made an attempt to simplify things so they could run in the background, without disaster ensuing, and broke out the old slow cooker.  I decided to push the limits, and make it as interruption proof as possible by not soaking the beans first. There are lots of opinions about soaking, but I went with a non-soak method because it worked for me, and is not unheard of.

IMPORTANT POINTS TO KNOW

  • Do not use a slow cooker method with red kidney beans  – there is an issue with a toxic enzyme  Phytohaemagglutinin that can cause problems if they are not cooked for long enough at high enough heat. It’s all about keeping things simple here, and safe.   I’ve cooked everything else, from navy beans to pinto to chickpeas using this method, and they all have come out perfectly, with no inadvertent poisonings.  No intentional poisonings either!
  • Check regularly the first time you take this method for a spin – keep an eye on the water level as the beans cook, and add more if it looks like it’s needed.
  • I use slow cookers that have an automatic “set to warm” feature that happens when the main cooking time is finished.  This keeps the food at a safe temperature, without burning, and without human intervention needed.  If things get hectic, I know that the food won’t burn, or go cold.

WHAT YOU NEED: EQUIPMENT & INGREDIENTS

  • Slow cooker (I use either my 4.5 quart or my giant 6 quart, depending on our needs)
  • Big bowl and strainer
  • Dry beans (remember: no red kidney beans for this method)
  • Water

METHOD

Wash and pick over the beans carefully – seriously, I’ve found rocks that were exactly bean sized, you don’t want that in your dinner.  Unless you really have a crush on your dentist, then maybe breaking teeth regularly  so you can visit him or her would be up your alley.  No judgement!

Place clean beans in slow cooker.  I usually don’t measure, I just dump in beans to about 2 inches depth.

Add water.  Lots of it.  I fill up to just about ¾ to 1 inch below the top rim of the cooker.

Set to cook on High for 4 to 6 hours.  If you like firmer beans, go with the lower time.  Chickpeas work best at the 6 hour mark.  Your mileage may vary as slow cookers are notorious for being different from one house to another, so on your first run make sure you keep track of how things are going.  After that, you can just go on your merry way!

If, after cooking on high for 6 hours, you find you want the texture to be softer, just leave it on the warm setting for a few more hours til it gets to the consistency you prefer.  Make sure there’s enough water first.


STORAGE IDEA
:
For future convenience, you can freeze cooked beans in baggies or containers in 2 cup increments, or free form like I do.  They are suitable to use in any recipe, with little to no fuss.

Gina Martin

Gina Martin lives in Coxsackie, NY with her husband and two children. Gina is a contributing author on the family travel and educational enrichment blog Albany Kid, and serves as Empress at her personal blog, ModSchooler which allows her to indulge her tech fancy and gadget-hound tendencies, all in the name of making learning fun and engaging. Multiple food allergies and family health issues have challenged her to develop healthy but delicious homemade treats and staples that can pass for “regular” food, and in her not-so-spare time she helps rescue abused and abandoned dogs and cats through Rottie Empire Rescue.

Advertisements

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Good one! For some reason, the bean soaking gets screwed up all the time in my kitchen too : )

    1. ginamodschooler says:

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one 😀

  2. Sandra Foyt says:

    Brilliant! You make it look so easy.

  3. Thanks for sharing this Gina! We have been eyeing more summer bean recipes to try and this will certainly help. We will not use the oven during the heat and try to avoid the stove top as well.

    1. ginamodschooler says:

      I just took some chickpeas out of the freezer, and I think a big part of dinner tonite will be hummus – for the same reason. That and grilling or BBQ outside are my main go-to summer cooking. I can only stand *just so many* salads.

  4. I’ve been using this method for years! Since I usually use the beans for making white bean hummus, I don’t care too much if they get mushy, so I usually set the crockpot to low and cook them overnight. When I get up in the morning, I drain ’em, rinse ’em, and put ’em in the fridge ’til I’m ready to use ’em!

    I do appreciate the tip about the red beans, though – I didn’t realize the potential for nastiness and death.

  5. Jennifer H says:

    Thanks for posting! I always cook dried beans in the crockpot…but I presoak the beans overnight in the frig. I’m eager to try the no-soak method.

Start a conversation --> We love feedback!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s