Last year for Christmas gifts I gave away little bags of pinto beans that we raised on our farm. I included a packet of Chugwater Chili seasoning and sewed cloth bags to put them in. I felt very crafty and accomplished. This did not happen this year. I was way behind. But that’s another story.
However, my farmer husband and I did give away buckets full of dry pinto beans to family and friends this year. One co-worker nearly demanded it…she’s a big fan! We literally drove out to the trucks that were parked on the end of the bean field and loaded up 5-gallon buckets full of them. Then I divided them up into coffee cans (are they still called cans if they’re plastic?) and sent them on their merry way.
When you receive a bucket full of beans straight out of the field, there is some work to be done before you dig in. Boy, I really hope I adequately stressed this point to the folks I handed beans too…
When you get beans straight out of the field, it’s not just beans you’ve received. There’s a mish-mash of dirt, little rocks, twigs, leaves and a grasshopper or two. So don’t just soak them and cook them…please clean them first…unless you like eating grasshoppers…then dig in. But, if you’re like me and you just want the beans, you’ll need to sort through them.
I’m certain this is not the only way or even the best way to clean dry beans, but it worked for me. First I dumped some of the beans on my kitchen counter.
Then I poured batches of the “clean pile” into a colander and rinsed off the dust. Since I wasn’t going to cook the beans, I then laid them out on paper towels patted them dry and let them air dry before packaging them into plastic storage bags.
If you clean your beans and then want to cook them right away, you can follow these directions:
- Rinse in a colander under running water for a minute or so.
- Beans expand at least double when cooked with liquid so place in a pan that will fit the expansion. Cover with at least 3 inches of water above the beans.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover with lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 1 hour with the lid on. The beans will be plump and ready to cook. OR you can soak overnight and then cook the next morning.
- Pour out the water and fill with clean tap water, covering at least 1 inch above the beans. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer with lid on for about 4 hours. Check every hour to make sure beans have plenty of water. You can also cook in a slow cooker for 8 hours or so. Beans are done when tender.
- NOTE: Season after they are done cooking. Adding salt before cooking will make the beans less tender.
It’s fun to share part of the product of your toil. The corn is feed for cattle, the barley goes to Coors for beer, the sugar beets go to the plant for, well, sugar; but the beans are a product that can be consumed almost exactly the way it comes out of the field. It gives a farmer and his wife a clearer perspective of how agriculture really does feed the world.
From RealFarmWife Liz Lauck – Wheatland, Wyo.