In our almost obsessive pursuit of new, delicious recipes the family will enjoy, we’ve come across several recipes lately that call for dried beans. Dried whites, reds, and pintos, to be specific.
EASE OF USE
With the canned variety, you simply open a can, rinse them (usually), and add them to the recipe.
Dried legumes require considerably more effort. They must be rinsed, sorted, and depending on the recipe and personal preference, soaked and cooked for an often considerable length of time.
For many of us, this soaking business may not be practical on Tuesday evening after a day at work.
IS SOAKING REALLY NECESSARY?
Talk to any number of cooks and you’ll get as many different answers about the necessity of soaking dried legumes before cooking them.
Many cooks swear by overnight soaks, while others say a few hours will do the trick. Still others don’t soak at all.
An exhaustive experiment conducted by Epicurious lead the editors to conclude that adequate reduction in cooking time and sufficient flavor enhancement was gained by bringing the beans to a boil in water, turning the heat off, and letting them soak for just an hour before cooking them for use in a recipe.
Despite Epicurious’ recommendation, there is a reason that might lead you to definitely want to soak them for a longer period.
Soaking reduces the legume’s well-known side effect, flatulence. This is especially a sensitive issue for those who have difficulties consuming FODMAP foods, like legumes.
According to the University of Michigan, soaking them in water with a teaspoon of vinegar for eight to 10 hours will reduce raffinose sugars, which cause intestinal gas.
Be sure to discard the bean soaking water to also get rid of the sugars. And the potential embarrassment.
Even an hour of soaking, as recommended by Epicurious, may not be doable during the workweek. So for time efficiency, canned may be the way to go in many circumstances.
WHICH IS MORE AFFORDABLE?
Another factor to consider is cost. The dried product costs less than half the price of prepared.
According to a grocery store price review conducted by The Bean Institute in November 2015, dried pintos cost about $0.15 per serving, store-brand pintos cost $0.34 per serving and national-brand pintos cost $0.48 per serving.
But, really, this particular legume isn’t terribly expensive either way, so unless you eat an exorbitant amount of it, cost might not be a critically important factor.
In general, canned legumes are usually higher in sodium and lower in nutrients than dried varieties.
NUTRITIONAL VALUES FOR A 3.5-OUNCE (100G) SERVING OF PINTOS:
Keep in mind that some of the above nutrient quantities in the dried product — folate in particular — may change depending on cooking methods.