Beans, Part 3

June 7, 2011

Food Storage, Nutrition

Beans are so nutritious and so versatile that they should be a headliner in your long-term food storage, but they should also be a frequent part of your diet now.  In order to help you get started, I want to share some of my own experiences.

Planning ahead

The only slightly difficult thing I found about using beans is making sure they are ready to cook when I need them.  In the beginning of my bean experiments, I often forgot to soak the beans overnight and then when I began my dinner preparations, I had to re-group because I hadn’t done my “homework.”

There is a cure for that, I learned.  (You could use canned beans, but they are not very cost-effective when compared to dry beans).  Luckily for us, you can “cheat” by using the “quick-soak” method.

Fast Track Those Beans

After rinsing and sorting the beans (to remove any rocks, etc), put in a pot.  Cover with at least 3 inches of cold tap water.  Put a lid on the pot and bring the beans to a boil.  Remove the pot from the heat, keep covered, and allow to stand for about 2 hours.

At this point, you rinse the beans again and then proceed with cooking.  For most beans, 90 minutes to 2 hours at a gentle boil (or 6-8 hours in the crockpot) will give you a great result.  Do keep in mind, though, that older (drier) beans will take longer.

Dark Beans vs Light Beans

Another thing I have learned is that light colored beans are much easier to sort than dark.  I suppose it is because even a machine can find a dark gray rock among white beans, but this is yet another reason why I love Great Northern beans.  Be especially careful when you cook with black beans.  I have almost always found several small dirt clods or pebbles mixed in and no one needs a trip to the dentist after dinner.

How to Stop the Music

Beans, beans- the musical fruit…  I know you are reluctant to eat beans because you have a lot of important social appointments, but there is hope.  There are ways to cut down on the “side effects” of a bean fiber diet.

To begin with, you can use bean varieties less prone to producing gas, for instance lentils, split peas, and limas.  They are less “potent” than say navy or black beans.

Many people also think that beans slow-cooked at home until completely done vs using canned will reduce gas too.  Besides, being more frugal, just think, you’ll be more socially acceptable too!

Another good way to cut down on the gas is to change the water you use at least once.  In other words, start the beans soaking before dinner.  Right before bed, drain them and refill the water.  Drain again in the morning rather than using the soaking water for cooking.  You will be removing some of the sugars that are most difficult for your body to break down.   Some people advise putting baking soda in the water also.   (It seems to work for us).  There is some disagreement over the “change the water” idea.  Some say it drains away nutrients.  Recent studies have shown that the loss is not significant enough to outweigh the benefits, though.

In the case of black beans, you will find the water is quite dark from the pigment of the seed coats.  When making soup, it’s not a bad thing to lose some of that because otherwise the color can bleed into all the other ingredients and turns them dark brown.  Expect toddlers (and some grown-ups!) to balk at a bowl full of what looks to them like mud.

One last tip is to cook them with either Summer Savory or Epazote (both a bit hard to find).  Those herbs are said to reduce the formation of gas also.

A New Favorite Recipe

I found a recipe online and tweaked it to suit our tastes and food storage staples.  I’m an “eyeball it” type of cook, so the measurements are approximate.  It’s easy and delicious.  I hope you enjoy it too.

Southwestern Beef & Bean Stew


  • 1 lb beef stew meat, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Better Than Bouillon beef base
  • 3 c.  water
  • 1 1/2 c. salsa or picante sauce
  • handful freeze-dried diced onions
  • 2 c. Great Northern (or pinto) beans
  • 2 c. frozen, freeze-dried, or canned corn
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp freeze-dried minced garlic


  1. Sort, rinse, and soak beans overnight.  Drain in the morning.  (If you forgot this step, see above or use canned).
  2. Toss the stew meat in flour to coat it.  Brown it lightly in olive oil.
  3. Stir the bouillon base into the water.  Pour into a large crock pot.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well.
  4. Cover and cook on LOW for at least 8 hours.

Home Remedies

You know about the OTC “cures” for gas and bloating, but here are a few homeopathic remedies worth trying.

  • Ginger
  • Chamomile tea
  • Yogurt (live culture)
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint

And of course, you could all go sit out on the porch for a while just in case!

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8 Comments on “Beans, Part 3”

  1. Portland Prepper Says:

    Sounds Yummy! I printed your recipe and gave it to my wife. She is a great cook! We started using INSTANT beans from They are whole beans (not some shredded or crushed mush) that cook in 15-20 min. A real time saver. I think they have black, pinto and red beans. The black beans we have tried. They are delicious! Put some in your food storage!


    • Laura Says:

      Thanks for the suggestion- I appreciate the comment. We haven’t tried those beans yet, but they are on our list.

      I should have mentioned that this could just as easily be put in a Dutch oven on the cool part of the woodstove or at the edge of the campfire too if there is no electricity.


  2. Marcy Says:

    Wonderful – another crock pot recipe! So hot and who wants to fire up the kitchen?! I’ve been incorporating beans instead of meat here lately – using lentils instead of ground meat for tacos and black beans for taco pizza. A super quick salad – black beans, sliced cucumbers, and tomatoes with a splash of fresh lime juice is quite tasty! Throw in some cubed avocado and a bit of red onion if it’s handy. Still haven’t tried the pinto or I mean pecan pie – but it is on the list!


    • Laura Says:


      Great idea about the lentils instead of ground beef!! I hadn’t thought about (or come across a recipe for) that one. The salad sounds delicious too. We’ll have to try that. Thanks for sharing those!


  3. teabag Says:

    i grew up on a hillbilly diet that included regular pinto-beans-and-cornbread meals (my favorite). my mother would de-fart the beans thusly: cover the beans with water and bring to a boil; add a palmful of baking soda to the pot (a greenish foam will arise–don’t let it boil over); after about 20-30 seconds, dump that water, rinse the beans, then cook in fresh water. it seemed to work. of course, if you eat beans often, your digestive system will adjust and gas won’t be much of a problem.



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