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Survival: Know Your Dried Beans!

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Dried Beans and Survival

Beans are found in tons of American recipes. That's not really surprising when you consider that Native Americans were growing, cooking, and eating beans long before the white man set foot in the New World. I’m not sure if this is a widespread saying or not, but here in the South we often say that someone “doesn’t know beans” when he’s speaking on a topic about which he has little knowledge. By reading this article, you can be immune to such name-calling, however, because you will know beans! Dried beans have gained a lot of attention lately because of soaring food prices and economic uncertainty. Because of their high protein and the fact that they'll last for years without refrigeration, dried beans are usually at the top of any survivalist list. If you're interested in long-term storage of dried beans for survival, find out how to get free or cheap storage containers for your beans.

Dried beans, sometimes referred to as “dry beans,” are actually legumes, or pulses, and are members of the leguminosae plant family. Legumes form seed pods that tend to split when the seeds are mature, and the family includes beans and peas. When young, legumes can often be eaten fresh, like vegetables – butter beans, black-eyed peas, and scarlet runner beans, for example. Once they’ve been dried, they’re high in soluble fiber, complex carbohydrates, thiamin, iron, zinc, folacin, magnesium, copper, and manganese, while being low in fat. Beans are an inexpensive way to get needed protein, too. In fact, one cup of cooked dried beans provides more than one-third of your daily protein requirement, at an average of 230 calories. Now you understand why dried beans could be an important part of survival during emergencies. Even without electricity, the beans could be cooked over an outdoor gas cooker or even a campfire.

Several varieties can be purchased canned, and they require no cooking. Unless you’re including them in a cold salad, however, you’ll probably want to warm them before eating. Packaged dried beans, on the other hand, almost always need to be soaked in order to reduce cooking time. Even after soaking, most dried bean varieties need to be cooked for several hours. They’re often seasoned with onions, olive oil, chicken broth, chunks of cured ham, or powdered ham flavoring. The canned beans are easier and quicker, but the dried beans you cook yourself are much tastier.


You'll find many American recipes for dried beans.

You'll find many American recipes for dried beans.

 

aduki beans

aduki beans

Aduki beans

Aduki, also called azuki or adzuki, beans are one of the few dried bean varieties that don’t need soaking, so they don't require as much prep time. They're small and have a slightly sweet flavor. These are the beans used to make red bean paste that's used extensively in East Asian cuisine.

 

anasazi beans

anasazi beans

Anasazi beans

This bean is sweet and firm, and it holds its shape well during cooking. It has a somewhat mealy texture and is often part of Southwestern regional cuisine. Anasazi beans should be soaked for at least five or six hours.

 

black beans

black beans

Black beans

Black beans have a smooth, soft texture and an earthy, mushroom-like flavor. They hold their shape well when cooked, so they're often used in salads. They also go well with corn. Black beans are popular in Mexican, Brazilian, and Cuban cuisine. Soak for a minimum of four hours.

cranberry beans

cranberry beans

Cranberry beans

Cranberry beans have a mild, nutty flavor reminiscent of chestnuts. They absorb other flavors readily and are popular in Northern Italian cuisine. Unfortunately, they lose their beautiful red color through the cooking process. They need to soak for at least four hours before cooking.

flageolet beans

flageolet beans

Flageolet beans

These beans are small, with a creamy texture. Flageolet beans are often referred to as "the caviar of beans" and are relatively expensive. They’re used widely in French cuisine and are often served with lamb. Soak for five hours before cooking.

fava beans

fava beans

Fava beans

Fava beans are large, very hard beans that need to soak overnight before cooking. They have a sweet, nutty taste and a creamy texture. Fava beans are popular in Mediterranean cuisine and are often added to pasta, risotto, and soups.

great northern beans

great northern beans

Great northern beans

These beans have a very mild flavor, thin skins, and a velvety texture when cooked. They readily absorb the flavors of added spices and herbs. They’re a popular ingredient in Mediterranean dishes and in French cassoulet. They need to soak for a minimum of four hours.

 

Kidney beans are used in American recipes like chili.

Kidney beans are used in American recipes like chili.

Kidney beans

Kidney beans have a slightly sweet flavor and a soft texture when cooked. They’re very versatile and can be used in a wide array of dishes, including chili, refried beans, and cold salads. Unlike some brightly colored beans, kidney beans retain their dark red color with cooking. Kidney beans need to soak for five or six hours before simmering.

 

lima beans

lima beans

Lima beans

These beans have a buttery, sweet, starchy taste and a smooth texture. When cooked for long periods, they create a thick, gravy-like liquid. Lima beans are native to South America and are popular in Andean foods. They're also used widely in regional Southern cuisine. Soak overnight before cooking.

Mexican red beans

Mexican red beans

Mexican red beans

 

Mexican red beans have a mild taste and a smooth texture. Even after sufficient cooking, they remain firm and intact. As their name implies, these beans are often part of Mexican dishes. They need to soak for at least four hours.

 

navy beans

navy beans

Navy beans, also called Yankee beans, have a soft, dense texture and a mild flavor. They tend to hold their shape during cooking and are often used to make Boston baked beans. These beans were once a staple of the U.S. Navy. Soak for five or six hours before cooking.

 

pink beans

pink beans

Pink Beans

Pink beans have a hearty, meaty flavor, a refined texture, and are often used in chili, soups, stews, and similar dishes. Soak for four hours or longer before cooking.

pinto beans

pinto beans

Pinto beans

These beans become very soft when cooked and have an earthy flavor. They have the most fiber of all dried beans. Pinto beans are a staple in Latino cuisine and are the preferred beans used in making refried beans and bean dips. Soak for six hours before cooking.

rattlesnake beans

rattlesnake beans

Rattlesnake beans

 This is a type of pinto bean, and the texture and taste is much the same. Actually, only the vines are different. Soak for six hours.

red beans

red beans

Red beans

These beans are very popular in the Southern U.S., especially as a part of Cajun and Creole dishes like red beans and rice. They’re well complimented with the use of spices. Soak for at least four hours.

scarlet runner beans

scarlet runner beans

Runner beans

These large beans pack a lot of flavor – more than many other types of dried beans. These beans are also not as starchy as most other varieties.There are three types of runner beans: scarlet, black, and white. In the U.S., the scarlet variety is often grown as an ornamental due to its red flowers. Soak for six hours.

white kidney beans

white kidney beans

White kidney beans

Also known as cannellini beans, these beans are similar in taste and texture to navy beans, but they have a slightly different shape. As the beans simmer, they readily absorb other flavors. They’re often used in white chili, minestrone, and other soups and stews. Soak for a minimum of four hours.

Buying and storing dried beans

You can find dried beans in grocery stores, at farmers’ markets, and online. Many varieties are available in small packages and in bulk bins.

Dried beans can keep for up to thirty years when stored properly. For pre-packaged beans, make sure the plastic bag contains no holes. Store beans at room temperature – not in the refrigerator.

If you buy and store dried beans in bulk, they can be separated into smaller quantities and stored in glass jars or plastic containers, with the lids tightly closed. For storing larger amounts, place them in large plastic tubs with tight-fitting lids. Add an oxygen-absorbing packet to the container and store in a cool, dry place.

To store cooked beans, place them in a container with a lid and cover them with some of the cooking liquid. Close tightly. The beans will keep for up to four days in the fridge, and they get more flavorful each time they’re re-heated. Of course, you can also use them cold in salads.

Cooked beans can also be frozen. Allow the beans to cool after cooking. Place them in freezer bags or freezer boxes and cover with cooking liquid. Store in the freezer for up to six months.

For more tips about dried beans, watch the video below.

Under the video, you’ll find links to some great bean recipes!

tips for soaking beans

Great bean recipes:

  • Holle's Red Beans, Sausage, and Rice
    Yesterday afternoon, I was busy on the computer when Johnny came in the office to ask what we were doing for lunchor for dinner. It was between the two meal times, and neither of us had eaten anything...
  • Southern Culinary Arts: Dried Beans and Ham
    Welcome to my online cooking school. Today we'll be preparing a favorite of Southern culinary arts, dried beans and ham. But first, a little story. My dad owned a grocery store and a gun shop, and...

Comments

shawn smith on August 20, 2016:

beans are the most heathiest food around but a lot of people make fun of them and talk some stupid crap, but we need them.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on January 11, 2014:

Epically fantastic and amazing article, bravo!

virginia mitchell on November 21, 2013:

When I am cooking fresh green beans I will add the shelled cranberry beans to the green beans if I can find them. Very hard to find I live in southern Ohio.

Joseph Asumadu from Ghana-aWest Africa on April 01, 2012:

We have some local beans that we use to prepare soup in fact I like it so much .Beans is good for me.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on June 11, 2011:

Fabulous and I love all my different beans. They are a bit windy though lol

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 05, 2010:

Hi, RM! I kinda got screwed up with the RSS and the contest thing. Sorry.

rmcrayne from San Antonio Texas on June 05, 2010:

Never heard of flageolet, rattlesnake, or white kidney beans. I came across another odd one in Saltzman's book- tongue of fire beans.

You forgot the HubMob graphic and RSS capsule. Also only this hub and your corn hub are in the HubMob RSS feed. The others are not HM. Sorry!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 03, 2010:

Glad you found it useful, Owl!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 03, 2010:

Thanks for stopping by, Loren!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 03, 2010:

Herbi, I've had rattlesnake beans only a couple of times. They taste like pintos, but their stems and vines are crooked, like a snake.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 03, 2010:

Katie, you've probably tried them all, eh?

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 03, 2010:

But NAncy - they're so healthy!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 03, 2010:

Hi, Lee! Thanks for reading!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 03, 2010:

Thanks, Buckie!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 03, 2010:

Many thanks, Pam!

platinumOwl4 on June 03, 2010:

Your article is an eye opener to me. Why? you may ask. I discovered I don't know beans. In your article I discovered beans I had never heard of but I intend to try. Remember the three boys in the fiery furnace the changed their food and became healthier.

Loren's Gem from Istanbul, Turkey on June 03, 2010:

Great information! I love all the beans you listed in your article, yet haven't tried cooking all of them. Most of the typical Turkish dishes include beans and they are very appetizing. However, the white kidney beans and the great northern beans look almost alike and I don't know exactly which one among the two we call "kuru fasulye" in Turkish. Anyway, thanks for sharing this info! Love your photos by the way! :-)

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 02, 2010:

Hi, Ken! Long time no see!

theherbivorehippi from Holly, MI on June 02, 2010:

I eat dried beans EVERY day. I have two shelves in my cupboards full of beans. I have not seen these rattlesnake beans though!! I will have to try and find these! Awesome..thanks!!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 02, 2010:

Oooo, Deb - mail me some ribs!

Katie McMurray from Ohio on June 02, 2010:

WOW beautiful pictures of beans, I love beans, eat them everyday being a veg head dried beans are a must. :)

nancy_30 from Georgia on June 02, 2010:

I learned a lot from this. I've never heard about some of these beans. I will have to check them out. I think I'm the only one in my family that enjoys eating beans so I don't cook them very often.

Lee A Barton from New Mexico on June 02, 2010:

I love pinto beans but had never heard of Rattlesnake beans. I really want to try some! Great hub!

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on June 02, 2010:

Beans are beans, eh? Great job and lovely presentation!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 02, 2010:

Habee, I almost did a hub like this but thankfully I didn't! It's difficult when there is a contest and we are all writing about the same types of things. This was very good and the pictures were great.

Ken R. Abell from ON THE ROAD on June 02, 2010:

Thanks, Habee. We use a lot of dried beans in our cooking, so we always have a good supply of them, BUT, you've provided us with a couple new varieties to check out.

Elder DeBorrah K Ogans on June 02, 2010:

Habee, Just cooked a delightful tasty pot of ham & beans to go along with the smoked ribs for Memorial Day...

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 02, 2010:

We do, too, HH!

Hello, hello, from London, UK on June 02, 2010:

I love beans and cooked them very often.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 01, 2010:

Netlexis, I have ESP. Or is it ESPN?? lol

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 01, 2010:

Sam, for me, it's lima beans, cornbread, and rice!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 01, 2010:

Wendy, I think lima beans are my fave!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 01, 2010:

2besure, my hubby could live off beans!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 01, 2010:

I'll remember that, Steve!

Katherine Koch from Southern California on June 01, 2010:

How timely! I spend the day reorganizing my pantry and putting all types of beans in new jars.

samboiam from Texas on June 01, 2010:

Pinto beans and cornbread, it doesn't get any better than that. Three bean soup is pretty dog gone good as well.

Wendy Henderson from Cape Coral on June 01, 2010:

I love beans. Navy bean soup is my favorite!

Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on June 01, 2010:

I love beans. When I make a pot, we eat them in two day.

SteveoMc from Pacific NorthWest on June 01, 2010:

Here you 'can't spell worth beans"

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