Dry are the kitchen pantry stars of 2020. During the shutdown periods of the pandemic, many people cooked more meals at home, and relied on ingredients that they had on hand. Dry beans last very well in storage, and they are versatile, affordable, and highly nutritious. Many home chefs discovered a newfound love of cooking with dry beans as an ingredient.
Now is the perfect time to stock up on beans for your holiday and winter cooking needs. Did you know that beans and peas are harvested across Maine? Locally grown beans typically hit the shelves in November. Find them at farmers’ markets (look for Fairwinds Farm at several markets), farm stores (like Eureka Farms), and supermarkets (look for beans from Green Thumb Farms). Be sure to get a supply now so you’ll always have some on hand!
Tips for cooking with dry beans:
- If you’re just getting started cooking with dry beans, try some of the favorite varieties: yellow eye beans, Jacobs cattle, and navy beans are easy to find.
- Remember that dry beans expand significantly when cooking. (1 cup of dry beans will make 2-3 cups of cooked beans.)
- If a recipe calls for soaking beans, change the water frequently for best results.
- If a bean recipe calls for salt, add it after the beans are finished cooking.
- For recipes that include acidic ingredients (e.g. vinegar or tomatoes), add them after the beans have been cooked to the desired texture.
- Consider decanting the beans into jars or other containers, to avoid a slippery spill if a bag tears.
- Store beans in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or cupboard. Under the right conditions, they will last indefinitely.
- Try the classic Baked Yellow-Eye Beans recipe from the Maine Bicentennial Cookbook (tips in the video below)!