I finally did it! I finally cooked up a giant batch of beans in my crock pot. For the same effort I have been taking to cook up 1 can-worth, I made I believe six cans worth of beans. And by using the crock pot I am sure the energy used was either equivalent or even less than what it was taking me for one can worth.
You will need a crock pot, a bunch of beans, and some water. Rinse and pick through your beans then put them in the crock pot and cover with water. The water needs to cover them deeply and generously with plenty of headroom. There should be several inches of water above the level of the beans because they will expand–a lot.
Soak them overnight or even a bit longer, changing the water if you go more than 12 hours.
Cook ’em up
In the morning, rinse them and cover with fresh water. I also like to add an unpeeled garlic clove or two and a couple of bay leaves for a bit of added flavor.
Then turn on your crock pot and walk away. Now, as for timing, you want them to simmer for about an hour, so perhaps 2-3 hours on high, or 5-6 hours on low, but you will have to play with these numbers, checking them after a couple of hours.
Storing for use
Once your beans are cooked, you can put the whole crock in the fridge to chill for several hours (leave it outside for a bit–with the lid on of course!–before putting in the fridge to lighten your hydro bill a little bit).
After my beans were chilled, I used my handy-dandy scale to weigh out 19 ounce portions of beans and their now-gelled liquid together (I used chick peas) which is the size of one can of beans.
I froze my six portions, and was so thrilled to see them lined up in my freezer all convenient for me.
Using the frozen beans
Now whenever I want to make hummus the next day, I just take out a baggie of beans the night before and let it thaw on the counter. The frozen beans are nearly as convenient as canned, but much much cheaper.
I can’t promise that the freezing won’t affect the texture of the beans, so you might want to experiment a little. I just know that my chick peas are working perfectly for hummus. I’m not sure about other types of beans, or other uses. You might not want to use them in a dish like a salad where their texture will be highlighted.
So there you have it
Beans have always been healthy and cheap. Now they’re even cheaper, and almost as convenient as canned!