Beans are one of the best options to include on your dinner menu for your emergency food stash. Learning how to dehydrate cooked beans is an incredibly inexpensive and an excellent source of protein and carbohydrates. Plus, they can easily form the basis of a meal on their own or mix with any number of dehydrated staples like rice for variety.
Canned Beans vs. Dried Beans
While you could stash away cans of beans, buying cans of processed beans turns out to be much more expensive than buying dried beans. You can buy a typical 15-ounce store-band can of pinto beans for around $1.19 each, which after removing the liquid comes out to 3.5 half-cup servings.
On the other hand, a one-pound bag of dried pinto beans costs around $1.79. For just 60 cents extra, that’s enough to make 12 half-cup servings of beans. If you’re building a food supply that could last for several weeks, the difference between buying canned beans and dried beans can be a significant sum of money.
On top of that, cans of beans contain a lot of liquid. The result is that cans take up a fair amount of space and they are heavy if you need to transport them.
How to Dehydrate Cooked Beans
The problem with dried beans is that they take a long time to cook. A pound of beans needs to sit on the stove for three hours or longer to get soft enough to eat!
Of course, that’s hardly going to work for your emergency food stash. Even if you had the time and patience to wait hours for dinner, boiling dried beans would require an enormous amount of fuel.
Thankfully, there is a way to prepare dried beans so that they cook almost instantly when you drop them in boiling water. All you have to do is cook your dried beans and then dehydrate them again.
Dehydrating cooked beans takes some forethought and requires a dehydrator, but it’s a great way to ensure you have meals ready to go in your emergency food stash.
Ready to get started? Here’s how to turn dried beans into quick-cooking dehydrated beans:
Step 1: Soak Beans Overnight
The first step to cook dried beans is to rinse them off in a colander, then put them in a bowl of water on the counter overnight. If you’re planning to cook your beans in a slow cooker rather than on the stove, you can skip this step.
Step 2: Cook the Beans
The next day, drain the beans and then put them in a pot or slow cooker. Add water until the beans are fully covered with about two inches of water above them. Bring the water to a boil, and then cook on low for around three hours. The beans should be cooked enough to eat, but not quite fully soft.
Note if you are cooking kidney beans, you must boil them first to prevent Red Kidney Bean Poisoning.
Step 3: Dehydrating Cooked Beans
To dehydrate your cooked beans, drain the water out of the pot and then place your beans on dehydrator trays. The beans should be in a single layer, although it’s okay if they’re packed together.
Set the dehydrator to 135 degrees and leave the beans to dehydrate for around eight hours. Take out any beans that are hard and dry, and continue heating any that still have moisture left for another two hours.
Step 4: Storing Dehydrated Cooked Beans
Once you’re done dehydrating the beans, you can store them in any airtight container. Mason jars work well, especially if you have a vacuum sealing attachment.
Dehydrated cooked beans will last virtually forever, although they start to lose some nutritional value after five years in a jar. If you make multiple batches, it’s a good idea to open a jar every year or two to make sure they’re still good. A moldy or mildewy smell is a sure sign that your beans are no longer edible.
Spicing Up Your Meals with Dehydrated Beans
One thing that you’ll thank yourself for during an emergency is adding some spice to your beans during the cooking and dehydrating process. There’s nothing less appetizing than having weeks’ worth of unseasoned beans to look forward to in your emergency food pantry.
The best time to add seasoning to your beans is while they’re cooking. Add any spices you want to the pot before the water starts boiling, and they’ll be absorbed into the beans along with the water over the next few hours of cooking.
Wondering what spices to add? Taco seasoning is a great place to start if you want to prepare some Mexican-themed meals. Alternatively, you can make a savory seasoning mix from chili powder, paprika, powdered onion, salt, and pepper.
Consider adding some cayenne, too, if you want your beans to have a kick – just make sure you don’t overdo it.
Of course, simply adding salt and pepper to your beans is enough in many cases and gives you more dinner pairing options later on.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make several batches of beans with different spices. That way, you have a wide variety of flavorful meals ready to go in case you ever need them.
Dehydrated Cooked Beans are a Great Emergency Food
Dehydrating cooked beans is a simple and cost-effective way to build your emergency food supply. Although cooking and drying beans is a bit of a project, it’s easy for anyone with a dehydrator to take on. Plus, the result is a stockpile of calorie- and protein-dense food flavored to your liking that you can use for an endless variety of ready to eat meals.
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