I like the idea of fix-it-and-forget-it beans. Toss in dried beans the day or night before you need them, turn on the cooker, and forget they are there. No pre-soaking, draining, stirring, re-soaking! Here's how to do it:
1. Clean the beans by removing any rocks or debris. Rinse in a colander with cold water. Place in the pot.
2. For every pound (approximately 2 cups) dried beans, add 6 cups room temperature water. Cook at least 1 pound beans and no more than 2 pounds at a time.
3. Flavor with an onion pierced with cloves, a bay leaf, or other herbs as desired. Don't use sugar or salt, though, as they will prevent the beans from tenderizing.
4. Cover and cook on LOW for 13-15 hours, or until tender. Cook them while you sleep!
5. Salt and season beans to taste.
6. Store cooled beans in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
7. For bean soup, add a raw, peeled, diced potato to the beans prior to cooking. When the beans are done, mash the potato with the back of a spoon. Stir it in to thicken the liquid.
*CAUTION: Don't cook kidney beans in a slow-cooker. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, kidney beans contain a chemical (phytohaemagglutinin) that is destroyed during the boiling process when cooked in the traditional way. In a slow-cooker, the beans don't come to a boil or reach a temperature high enough to destroy the toxin.
The chemical can actually increase in toxicity in a slow-cooker or undercooked casserole. Eating as few as 4-5 raw or undercooked kidney beans can cause extreme nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in as few as 1-3 hours after ingestion. Other beans also contain this chemical but in such small amounts they do not warrant concern. They can be safely cooked in a slow-cooker.
Source: Northwest Area Family Newsletter, Eugenia Hanlon - ISU Extension Families Specialist,
and the U.S. Food and Food Administration vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~mow/chap43.html
* DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *