Eco-Recipe for Babies and Adults Alike: Cooking Dried Black Beans

My daughter has loved black beans since we started her on solid foods.  First we blended them up and added them to her oatmeal porridge (Mm-m, doesn’t that sound scrumptious?).  Later, she was able to pick individual beans up with her hands and gum them.  Once she was about eighteen months or so, she enjoyed eating black beans in salsa or chili.  We make three pounds of dried beans at a time, use most of them in Andy’s frozen burritos (we make twenty burritos at a time), and enjoy the rest in other recipes.

Using dried beans instead of canned has a few advantages.  First of all, it’s cheaper.  I estimate that we save a whopping $2.80 every time we cook our own beans.  We also avoid the toxins lurking in cans.  (Holly on the Ecobaby Blog wrote about her concerns with canned beans here.)  Last but not least, we’re keeping more than seven fifteen-ounce cans out of the recycling bin every time we cook a vat of tasty legumes. 

Here’s how we make three pounds of dried beans:

  1. Soak dry beans overnight in a six-quart stock pot.  Beans will double in size, so use as much water as possible.
  2. Drain beans.  Add fresh water.  The whole pot will seem filled with beans at this point, with only an inch or two of water over the top.  That’s okay.
  3. Cover and heat on medium high until the water just starts to boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low.  Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes to over an hour, until soft.

Three pounds of dry beans will yield over six pounds of cooked beans.

Note: You can add spices to the beans while cooking, but don’t add salt until they’re done or they may never soften.

Freeze your cooked beans in six or seven glass jars (old peanut butter jars are perfect), and you will have them on hand to use in place of the canned variety.  I like to cook huge batches at a time to make the effort worthwhile.  Although it takes about ten hours from start to finish, the hands-on work involved in cooking three pounds of beans is minimal.  Now I just have to decide what to do with that $2.80 I saved!

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer.


  1. this motivates me to cook dried beans, which i’ve often thought to do, but never got around to. and i forgot about the whole frozen burrito thing, but i should get around to that too!

  2. Thanks – i already cook my own but didn’t know they froze well. Of course! Burritos and all…

  3. I was JUST looking at my bag of dried pintos this morning! I don’t actually soak them overnight, though. I just throw them in the crock pot with some liquid and tomatoes and veggies and it all turns out awesome by dinnertime!

  4. fsk and MamaBird–Yes, it’s easy to make burritos and freeze them. We make twenty at a time. First we mix most of the cooked beans with cheese, salsa, spinach, sunflower seeds, and brown rice. Then we roll them all up and wrap them individually in Glad Wrap, which as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, is phthalate-free. My husband has been eating these almost every day for lunch for more than FOUR YEARS!

    Amy, that is good to know that you can skip the soak step with a crock pot. I read that soaking and then disgarding the soak water got rid of enzymes that makes beans hard to digest. (It also cuts down on cooking time.) Also I read that if you have a hard time digesting beans, it means you don’t get enough fiber in your diet and you just need to eat more to get your body used to it! Anyway, that’s also interesting that you throw them in with tomatoes, because usually the acid in tomatoes prevents beans from softening.

  5. Hmmm. My kids aren’t big bean eaters. I’ve tried a few varieties but you’ve inspired me to try again. Thanks for the tips on how to cook them. My son loves salsa so maybe I’ll slip some in the salsa. Yum.

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