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How to Make Beans In a Slow Cooker

Save money and eat better by mastering slow-cooker beans from scratch.
By Haley Nelson
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Out of all the money-saving tips and tricks I have learned, this one is hands-down one of my favorites. Making beans from scratch in the slow cooker is extremely easy and the results are super delicious. But best of all, mastering this method can help you save a lot of money. 

I recently experimented with making three types of beans in a slow cooker: Chick peas (garbanzo beans), black beans and red kidney beans. Each type turned out really well, yielding similar (and in some cases, even better) flavor and texture than canned beans. 

Here are the basic instructions to get you started. Please note that I used a 3.5-quart slow cooker for a one-pound bag of beans. If you are planning on making more than one pound at a time, you will need a larger crock.

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  1. Rinse and sort your beans: Start with one pound of your favorite beans. Place your beans in a strainer, rinse and remove any discolored, rotten or shriveled beans. Also, remove any small stones or debris that may be in the bag (a common occurrence). 
  2. Water and season the beans: Place beans in the slow cooker and add enough water to cover the beans by two to three inches. I added a bay leaf to each batch, which added a very subtle flavor. You can also stir in a teaspoon of salt in for extra flavor, but note that both of these add-ons are optional.
  3. Get cooking: Turn your slow cooker on, and cook your beans on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3 ½ to 4 hours. Check on the beans an hour or so before the end of the suggested cooking time to gauge how they are progressing. You want the beans to be firm but soft, and definitely not mushy!
  4. Cool and store: Once the beans are done cooking, turn off the heat, drain them from the cooking water and allow them to cool completely. You can eat the beans right away, store them in the fridge for up to a week or freeze them in a freezer-safe, airtight container for up to three months.

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Pro tip: Prepared beans freeze incredibly well. Simply rinse the cooked beans, remove as much moisture as possible and place in plastic freezer bags in desired quantities (I’d recommend one cup or two cups for easy measuring). When you’re ready to use them in a recipe, simply remove from the freezer and let them thaw (this will take a few hours in the fridge, one hour at room temperature).

How much did I save? A one-pound bag of chick peas yielded about seven cups of cooked beans. A 15-ounce can of chick peas contains a scant two cups of beans. To break the price difference down, slow cooker beans cost about 27 cents per cup. Canned beans cost about 67 cents per cup. 

Have you tried making beans from scratch in the slow cooker? If so, do you have any extra tips to share?



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