Beans!

Beans are great.  They are flexible.  They are nutritious.  They are cheap as dirt when you buy them dried and cook them yourself.  But, they take forever to cook.  You really need to plan ahead.  And you probably don’t want the stove going for four hours when it’s 90°F outside.  Well, I don’t.

Store-bought cans of beans can be pricey – especially the organic brands.  And the cheap, store-label brands can be pretty mushy.  You open a can of beans thinking you’re going to toss them with a little dressing, some fresh veggies, and garlic and have a nice salad, and you end up with refried bean paste mush.  Yum!

That’s why I started canning my own.  In the time it takes to cook a pot of beans for chili or soup beans, I am able to put 7 quarts or 10 pints on the shelf.  And I can reuse the jars.  And they are perfect, whether I want them for soup beans, salad, or if I really do want refried bean paste mush.

I do pinto beans and garbanzo beans in quarts.  One quart of pintos is perfect for a nice big pot of chili that will feed 6.  That size is also perfect for a dinner of soup beans and cornbread for Mr. Dewey and I.  Not so much left over that you get sick of eating them before they’re gone.  A quart of garbanzo beans makes a perfect amount of hummus, too.

The black beans go in pints.  I can add a pint to my chili if I want, or toss them with veggies, a little cumin, coriander, and garlic, and make burritos, enchiladas, and so forth.  The canning process makes them perfect for cold salads, too.  They stay firm and pretty, but are perfectly cooked.

And they cost about a quarter the amount of store-bought canned beans, including the cost of the energy to process them.

Tonight I tossed a can of black beans in with some leftover rice, fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeños and garlic from the garden, and just for fun added a quart or so of roasted veggies I had on hand.  Plenty of cumin, coriander, garlic, and we had a great vegetarian dinner for a cool, late summer evening.

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