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Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Great (Pinto) Bean Experiment

I ground about 6 pounds of dry, uncooked pinto beans. The idea is to cut down the cooking time. I ground them using a heavy, cast iron corn grinder. So I ground the beans in batches, first I picked the beans, if you have never cooked beans like this, you'd be shocked at what ends up in the package with the beans... rocks, dirt clods, mystery beans, corn, bug eaten beans, mystery seeds, bits of this and that, and the occasional non-organic item, I have no idea what the white, plastic thing is that I found in the beans.

After I picked the beans, I would place a handful of beans in a barely dampened towel and shake the beans around in the towel. Beans tend to come covered in grit, dirty, one should wash them, but since I was about to grind them, I didn't want to run the risk of grinding moistened dry beans, they might not store as well.

I ran them through the mill on a medium setting, enough to break them into smaller pieces, then I ran it through again on a tighter setting to grind it to nearly a powder, about the consistency of cornmeal. Now, what to put the bean meal in... I thought about zip-lock bags, then decided against it. Mountain Man Bob drinks lots of coffee with creamer, I try to buy the largest and cheapest creamer in the store. We have LOTS of empty (large) creamer containers, so I grabbed one of them. It worked perfectly! Each container holds about 1 and a half bags of bean meal. I filled 3 of them.

That all happening yesterday, I'm not as sore as I thought I might be, especially my right arm, my grinding arm. My hands are a bit sore, but all in all, it's not bad at all.

Last night I wanted to test how this bean meal cooks up. I put about a cup and a half of bean meal in a pan, added twice as much water and gave it a stir (no salt yet, it toughens the beans), I started them on high until it boiled then dropped it to low. I covered the pan and let it go. It really went through the water, about every 15 minutes, I would add another half cup of water and stir. About 2 hours later, the beans still had a raw bean taste and were gritty. I added a pinch of baking soda and continued cooking and adding water.

Well, it ended up taking nearly 4 hours to cook, that is far too long for me. The idea is to cut down on the cooking time, therefore using less propane. Once the beans were done, I seasoned them, salt, pepper, ground coriander seeds, filé powder... they were pretty tasty.

I decided to go ahead and try dehydrating the cooked bean paste. I poured the bean paste into sheet pan lined with parchment paper, I made sure the layer was thin. I placed this in a small (microwave sized) convection oven, propped the door open about a half inch using a butter knife, then turned on the oven on low. It took a few hours to completely dry. I had to stir the bean paste around, break it up to allow it to fully dry. Then I took the dry bean paste and ran it through the food processor to grind it into small pieces. It looks like coffee.

The only thing I didn't do was rehydrate it and taste it. I'll do that later.

Since I determined that the bean meal doesn't cook any faster, I took about a cup and a half of bean meal, added water and covered, it was left to sit all night, the idea is that soaked beans cook faster. We will see today.

OK, the soaked bean meal did cook faster, in about 2 hours, but it's still not any faster than cooking whole beans. So now I have decided the only way I am going to cook pinto beans faster is to use a pressure cooker. Fortunately we have 2 of them, a big one for canning and a smaller one for cooking. Just have to check the rubber gasket to make sure it's still OK, might do a test boil with just water to make sure it seals good.

BTW, dehydrating the cooked beans did work, I put some of the dehydrated beans in a pan, poured in quite a bit of water and heated it all up, They were pretty tasty.

Honestly, after all of this, I have decided that for now, I can and will continue buying instant refried beans, I can get them at the store in town, I can also get them from Sam's Club, they sell a 3 pound bag of instant refried beans for around $6, can't beat that for now. Unfortunately the only Sam's that carries them that I know of is in El Paso, at least 3 hours away. For now I know someone who goes out there several times a month (doctor visits), so I can stock up on them. At least I know that I can dehydrate refried beans for storage and eating later. :)

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properly pronounced wreetha (included for the text reader),

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  1. Thanks for the information on this - certainly saved me some time figuring it out! Love your blog - I check for updates on it most every day....Congrats, I am very jealous, on living off the grid and being happy! Hope to be there one day.

  2. Have you tried a pressure cooker? You will use less propane, cooks quicker, and you don't have to grind the beans.


  3. Wretha...have you ever thought about trying out a Wonderbox isulated cooker? You can make one yourself...and it gratly decreases the cooking ime and saves on fuel!

    Google Wonderbox insulated cooker and take a ook!

    BTW...that bean flour is great for thickening soups and stews...!

  4. Well that was a good experiment Wretha. I really thought it might have worked out better than that myself, but how do ya know till ya try. Now we know. Jim mentioned that wonderbox thingy, and me being the lazy individual that I am, might try something similar but simpler than that. lol. I might even have to invest in a pressure cooker someday also. Probably be needing one eventually anyway. Always a learning experience here on the blogger thing. Thanks for sharing your experiment with us. I for one would also like to cut down on the cooking times on things, espesially in the little shack. It tends to make the CO alarm go off. lol.

  5. Interesting experiment, Wretha. You might also want to try some faster-cooking beans such as lentils and chick peas (garbanzo beans).


  6. I tried that bean thing too and had same results. I buy my dehydrated from the LDS cannery, I am not LDS. Here are the ones in Texas.
    TX - Carrollton (Dallas)

    Phone (972) 242-8595
    Address 1100 West Jackson Road
    Carrollton , Texas 75006

    TX - El Paso

    Phone (915) 833-0644
    Address 2910 Tularosa
    El Paso, Texas 79903

    TX - Houston

    Phone (281) 537-1785
    Address 16333 Hafer Road
    Houston, Texas 77090

    TX - San Antonio

    Phone (210) 520-1122
    Address 6880 Alamo Downs Pkwy
    San Antonio, Texas 78238

    Here is their price list.
    As you can see its only 3.75 for a number 10 can.
    Hope this helps

  7. Wretha, have you checked out whether or not you could have them shipped to you from Sam's Club?! Just a suggestion :) ~Sheila (your pal from simplesolarhomesteading)

  8. Thanks everyone for your wonderful replies,
    Tammy, thanks, just remember that you are in charge of your life and how you want to live it, set goals and work toward them, you'll get there.
    jocareed, yes I know about pressure cookers, it's something I am going to do soon.
    HermitJim and Frugal Canadian Hermit, yes I need to try the wonderbox cooker, I did a review on an ebook talking about that very thing, I just need to DO IT. :)
    Barb-Central Texas, yes, faster cooking lentils would be good, the thing is I have LOADS of pinto beans, it's a long story as to how I ended up with so many, but I have 'em and I wanted to figure out a quicker way to cook them.
    debbieo, thanks so much for the links, I have a LDS friend, I'm going to ask her if she goes to one of those locations, if so I'll see if she can get some for me.
    ~Sheila, yeah, I tried that already, it's not something they ship, for now I have a friend who goes to the Sams that carries these beans nearly every weekend, so he picks them up for me. I WISHED Sams would ship these, it would make things so much easier.

  9. Soaking ahead and using the cook box will save you all kinds of propane. Go read my e-book again and I am sure you will come up with an innovative way to create your cook box. Food cooked in a cook box is SO good.


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