Today’s post isn’t really ONE good thing… it’s TWO! The two techniques that I’m sharing today are perfectly wonderful on their own, but they work so perfectly together that I wanted to share them that way!
Making Beans in Your Crockpot
Dried beans are high in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals…and low in fat, sugar, sodium, and COST! Basically the perfect food. :-)
I’m always surprised to find out how many people have never tried cooking dried beans in their crockpot before. It couldn’t be simpler or more affordable to do, and the result is absolutely delicious! One pound of dry beans will make about 4-5 cups of cooked beans, which can be used in soups, burritos, enchiladas, tacos, hash, skillets, and MORE! You can also freeze them for up to 3 months.
(Note: You can make all kinds of beans using this method, but if you choose to use kidney beans you’ll want to boil them for 10 minutes before putting them in your crockpot. This will eliminate a natural toxin found in raw kidney beans that can cause severe digestive distress.)
The night before you plan on having beans, sort through your beans and discard any debris, along with any broken or shriveled beans. Place the remaining beans into a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover the beans by about 2 inches. Let the beans soak overnight. (Note: soaking the beans overnight is optional, but most people believe this step helps to minimize the gas-inducing quality of the beans!)
In the morning, drain the beans and give them a quick rinse. Place them in your crockpot along with any desired aromatics and seasonings, and cover with 6 or so cups of water.
Turn crockpot on low and cook for 6 to 8 hours, testing for doneness around hour 6. When the beans are done, remove any large aromatics such as the garlic cloves and bay leaf. Scoop the beans and some of the cooking liquid into a bowl and enjoy!! (But make sure to hold onto the rest of the cooking liquid though, as we will be using that in our next recipe!)
Slow Cooker Black Beans
adapted from Cafe Johnsonia
- 1lb. sorted black beans, soaked overnight in cold water
- 6-8 cups water
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 Tbsp dried cilantro
- 1 Tbsp salt
Making Homemade Vegetable Broth
In addition to beans, another pantry staple that is simple to make at home is vegetable broth! This vegetable broth would make a great base for homemade soups and sauces, and can also be used in place of water to punch up the flavor of rice, lentils, or couscous.
This is a great way to use up veggies that you happen to have on hand. You can also utilize the peels, ends, and tops of veggies that would normally get tossed! So remember that bean water that you’ve been holding onto from earlier?? That’s right… we’ll be using that to lend additional flavor to our vegetable broth!
(Note: If you are using the cooking water from black beans like I did, your vegetable broth will turn out dark in color – as you can see above. However, it will also be very delicious, so don’t let the color deter you!)
Start with some veggies chopped into 1” pieces, like onion, celery stalks, carrots, and green onions. Add several sprigs of fresh herbs, a couple of bay leaves, and a bunch of minced garlic for good measure.
Cook everything together for 5-10 minutes in a large pot over medium-high heat, adding salt and pepper as desired. Then add the equivalent of 2 quarts of liquid. I had 2 cups of cooking liquid leftover from the beans, so I added 6 cups of water to make 2 total quarts of liquid in the pot.
Bring the pot to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the vegetables and herbs and discard (or add to your compost!) I got one full quart jar and one full pint jar worth of broth using this recipe.
Basic Vegetable Broth
adapted from allrecipes.com
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion
- 2 stalks celery
- 2 large carrots
- 1 bunch green onions
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 sprigs fresh parsley
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 quarts liquid
Be forewarned. Once you start making your own “canned” beans and broth you’ll have a hard time going back to the store bought stuff. Not only do they taste better, they’re better for you and your food budget!