I have been writing a lot of dehydrating posts lately. I am working up to something, so hang with me for a few more posts because I'm going to make the big reveal soon. Anyway, this something I'm working up to (shhh if you've already guessed it) requires beans. Well, I thought for a minute about dehydrating beans, after all, they are already dried. Why would you want to dry them? Well, come to think about it there might be a few reasons, more about that in a minute. So I tried to recall the last time I dehydrated beans. Surely, I must have sometime in the past. After all, I have a blog that focuses on food preservation.
Dehydrating Beans–How To Make ”Quick Cook” Beans
The biggest reason you might want to dehydrate cooked beans instead of using uncooked dry beans is cook time. Dehydrated cooked beans will require little more than rehydrating. In an off-grid situation this would save time and fuel.
I started with three cans of beans.
Here are my before pictures.
Make sure to set it for the food that requires the lowest temperature. When that food is done you can crank the temperature up higher if you need to.
Yeah, it turns out I've never dehydrated beans before! I have made black bean crumbs.
And pinto bean crumbs.
And kidney bean crumbs.
Now at this point I'm thinking that, well, there must be something about the canned beans. They heat them to such high temperatures they must be overcooked, right?
In my defense, I do know a thing or two about beans. So let me take a little detour and tell you what I know, then we'll come back to stuff I don't (or didn't, as the case may be).
Beans have phytic acid which interferes with digestion and oligosaccharides which causes, uummm, commotion in the digestive tract. Soaking dried beans before you cook them decreases both. Although soaking will reduce the phytic acid down to a reasonable level you can reduce further by adding acid to the soaking water. Here I am adding apple cider vinegar, but you can use whey or another kind of vinegar. Be warned, though, the texture of the beans is changed by the acid.
I am comfortable with a good long soak. You might try the adding the acid if you have digestive problems.
Be sure to rinse your beans before you cook them. The phytic acid and oligosaccharides are now in the water so you want to discard it.
I usually leave my beans set on low overnight, so about 8 hours. The soaking reduces cooking time so if your crock pot runs hot you may need less time to cook your beans.
Before you soak your beans be sure to sort them. I found this rock when sorting pinto beans.
If those oligosaccharides (sugars that cause gas) are really too much to handle you can try adding a bit of baking soda to the soaking water. They reduce the raffinose family of sugars.
Kidney beans have a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin (kidney bean lectin) and need to be boiled for 10 minutes to destroy this toxin. Other beans also contain smaller amounts, but still might have enough to make you sick. So the rule of thumb is always cook larger beans in boiling water for 10 minutes. This includes kidney beans, white kidney beans, lima beans and broad beans. Since I have to boil these beans and they are already in the pot I usually will go ahead and finish cooking them in the pot and rarely finish them in the slow cooker.
Well, using dried beans certainly reduced the bean crumb situation but it's still not what I had in mind. Here is a shot of my dehydrated dried black beans.
The pinto beans were a little worse.
Then the kidney beans seemed the same as the canned. I'm sure by now you're wondering about temperature. The picture of my Excalibur above shows the heat set at 135 F° which is too high for beans. Before I put these kidney beans I did a bit of research and if you think about what is happening during the dehydrating process it will make sense. The skin was drying faster than the inside of the bean forcing the skin to be too tight around the bean and pushing the inside to the outside, basically exploding. So I dried these beans on 95 F°. But the beans still exploded. The problem was the center was too dense to dry out at the same rate as the thin skin.
So I decided to try something different with a smaller amount of beans. I know beans are cheap but I was tired of wasting them.
I cooked the black beans for half the time called for. I cooked them for about 10 minutes on low heat after bringing them up to a boil.
I cooked the pinto beans for about same amount of time, 10 minutes on low heat after bringing them up to a boil.
Here is the inside of the half cooked bean so you can see the level of "doneness" I was going for.
The inside is definitely not as mushy as a fully cooked bean, but you can tell they are not raw either.
Then I did the same thing with the kidney beans. I cooked them for about 10 minutes after bringing them up to a boil. I wanted to keep the kidney beans at a boil a bit longer than the other beans because of the phytohaemagglutinin. Honestly, this is a tricky bean to make into a quick-cook bean. If you give them to someone who does not understand that they need to be cooked longer before they are safe to eat, well, it could get ugly. So use sound judgement when making quick-cook kidney beans.
Here you can see my lower temperature on the Excalibur.
It worked!! Look at all those whole beans.
The pinto beans look a lot better too.
The kidney beans were still falling apart more than I would have liked, but I was fighting myself wanting to let them cook longer.
So now it was time to try it on a larger scale.
Same great results!
Great results with the pinto beans as well.
Here is a close up of the pinto beans.
On the left are the half cooked beans and on the right are raw dried beans. You can definitely see a difference.
The kidney beans are holding together too.
Here is the close-up of the kidney beans. Keep in mind that I would cook whatever I put these kidney beans in at rolling boil for at least 5 minutes and probably would add a few minutes just for good measure.
They also make a jar attachment for regular mouth jars.
I love the jar attachments because they even fit on the small jars.
Label and put away!
These beans are not like most dehydrated food. They are kind of in limbo somewhere between done and not not done. What I have done is make them extremely fast beans to cook, hence the term quick-cook. However, they will need to be cooked a bit more before you can eat them. They need to be cooked at least 5 minutes at a rolling boil (I would add a few more minutes onto the kidney beans, see above). The would be perfect for back-packing meals or meals-in-jars. Oh dangit, didn't I say shhhhhh. Ok, well, let's just keep it between you and me. Let me just say I have you covered for directions on both.
Oh yeah, no worries, I've learned my lesson, I am humbled and admit that I do not know everything about dehydrating. No chance of a smarty pants dance from this girl!