Kick the Can (Habit) And Slow Cook Your Beans

By Mr. Everest

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I cooked up some black beans today. The house smelled wonderful as the beans cooked in the slow cooker with garlic and onions.

Nothing smells better than a pot 'o beans in the kitchen. Photo © Liesl Clark

Nothing smells better than a pot ‘o beans in the kitchen. Photo © Liesl Clark

For the past 3 years, we’ve gone plastic-free in the culinary arts so that means no canned food. Most cans have bisphenol A (BPA) in them which is an epoxy resin-like substance that is an endocrine disruptor and a chemical linked to cancer. Beans in a can are among the top 10 BPA-laden canned foods out there. When we converted our kitchen over to a plastic-free one, canned beans was a favorite staple we had to rethink. But the Greek ancestry in me knew it wouldn’t mean we’d go without beans for long. My Dad always had a pot of lentils on the stove, so why not do the same with pinto and black beans?

Crock Pot Beans. Photo © Liesl Clark

Crock Pot Beans. Photo © Liesl Clark

Every couple weeks I pull out the slow cooker, throw some beans in (say 4 cups-worth) add triple the amount of water, throw in a bay leaf from our friends’ tree, several cloves of garlic from our garden (whole cloves are fine), chopped onion, and about a teaspoon of sea salt. Each time I do it the recipe changes but this is a basic one that works. Put the cover on the slow cooker and let ‘er cook for about 18 hours or until your beans have reached their desired tenderness. No stirring is required. Just leave the slow cooker alone and enjoy the rest of your day.

Red onion, chives and garlic with black beans. Photo © Liesl Clark

Red onion, chives and garlic with black beans. Photo © Liesl Clark

We buy our beans in bulk, 25 lbs at a time, so they come to us in a big paper feed sack. We then store them in glass jars for easy access.

Bean Storage in Large Glass Jars. Photo © Liesl Clark

Bean Storage in Large Glass Jars. Photo © Liesl Clark

I tend to turn half of the cooked beans into refried beans (just mash ’em down as you fry them with a little more garlic and onion and add some cumin and liquid aminos for salt) and then make burritos or enchiladas that we can freeze for easy school lunches to reheat for the kids.

IMG_5177 Photo © Liesl Clark

These beans are always better than anything I’ve eaten from a can, and they cost about a tenth of the price. But the real benefit of kicking canned food is the mindfulness of slow-cooking and making your staples from scratch. Cooked beans in a slow cooker are so simple, yet they require a few minutes of forethought and planning for the meals that your family will enjoy in the week ahead. Four cups of dried beans will result in about 8 cups of cooked beans, enough for a family of 4 to enjoy for a week in many different creations. As your home fills with the buttery and savory smell of cooking beans, enjoy the pleasure, as my Dad did, of slow-cooked food and the sweet time it takes for the flavors to blend together completely.

If you’re looking for more ideas for plastic free food, visit our Trash Backwards app:

Click Through For Food Less Plastic at Trash Backwards

Click Through For Food Less Plastic at Trash Backwards

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Categories: DIY, Plastic-Free Living, Reduce Your Use, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff

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6 Comments on “Kick the Can (Habit) And Slow Cook Your Beans”

  1. May 6, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    Oh, good one!! I send so many cans to the recycle bin, and I never thought about cooking them in the slow cooker. Much more economical. My husband and I used to own a small ticket item restaurant in Buena Vista, Colorado, and we cooked our dried beans in a big pressure cooker so we could make a lot at once. Then we had to smash them and stir them in a big pan on the stove. My hands were numb from stirring huge pans of beans, but they were very popular.

  2. Susan Klein
    May 6, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    Do you soak the beans over night first? I know this is a stupid question……

  3. May 6, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    For those like me who are sometimes challenged to plan ahead, a pressure cooker will have dried beans ready in 15-20 minutes- and uses a lot less power. Sometime I soak overnight, sometimes I don’t. We bought a can of beans recently (craved chickpeas, but couldn’t find dry ones where we are) and the kids nearly gagged… cooking up dried beans is so much more delicious!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 100 Things You Never Need To Buy | Trash Backwards - May 15, 2013

    […] 58) Canned Beans: If you like canned beans but don’t want the bisphenol-A that goes with them, kick the can and get a bulk bag of dried beans instead. They’re so easy to cook up in a slow cooker. […]

  2. 8 Uses For Garlic Skins | Trash Backwards - July 1, 2013

    […] Save them in your freezer and use for your vegetable or chicken stock. I also throw them in my slow-cooked beans to add more […]

  3. 8 Uses For Garlic Skins | Pioneering The Simple Life - February 25, 2016

    […] Save them in your freezer and use for your vegetable or chicken stock. I also throw them in my slow-cooked beans to add more […]

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