Friday, August 22, 2008

Food Storage Friday: Refried Beans

There's lots to read today. We have a guest post appearing on Totally Ready today, so go check it out. Actual post is here.

We also have a guest post called "Top 5 Food Storage Mistakes" over at Light Refreshments Served.

And here, we'll be making refried beans.

Ingredients: Pinto Beans. No joke. And water. And salt and pepper. But really. It's just like opening a can of refried beans. Only it takes longer. And it tastes SO much better.

The reason why dry beans are cheaper than canned is that the prep work for canned beans has been done for you already. With a little bit of work and planning ahead, you can use dry beans which are economical and easier to store.

The first step is to rinse them. Think of them as vegetables that haven't been washed. Fill up a pot/crock pot with water, just covering the beans and swirl your hand through the beans a little. Just to loosen any dirt and check for stones. Sometimes little stones sneak in, and they don't taste so swell. So get your hands in there and feel around.

Drain the water and fill it up again. Covering the beans with a few inches of water. Let it sit overnight while you sleep. This is the soaking phase to rehydrate the beans. There is a quick soak method if you forget to soak beans the night before, those instructions are on bean package.

When you wake up in the morning go check on your beans. The water level will be lower and the beans will be larger having soaked up water. Now they are the size of canned beans.

Drain and rinse your beans and dump them back into the crockpot. Cover with fresh water and turn the crockpot on low.

Who cleans the outside of the crockpot? Not me, obviously. To make sure the beans get done all the way through, I start them in the morning and keep them on low all day. You could also cook them over the stove top for a much shorter cook time, or cook them in the crockpot over a higher heat. I never do it that way because I'm lazy and would rather put something in the crockpot and walk away.

Leave the beans alone. They don't need spices, they don't need to be stirred. The only thing you need to do throughout the day is make sure there's enough water. Sometimes if the water level gets low, you'll have to add some. Other than that, leave it be. Seriously, that's the whole point of a crock pot right?

When it gets closer to dinner time, check on your beans. They should be swelling and splitting. Pick a few out and try them. They should be soft and not grainy at all. If they are still a little hard, turn up the heat for a while.

If they are soft and ready, pull a couple of cups into a skillet. Bring mostly the beans and just a little water. As we mash them, liquid will come out of the beans.

Unless you have a large family, you will only need half of the beans you prepped for this meal. Only put into the skillet the amount you are going to eat for that meal. I measure it by how many cans of refried beans I would use for that meal. Usually we eat two cans of refried beans for the four of us. So I add to the skillet about four cups of beans and a little liquid. The rest of the beans I put in tupperware in two cup amounts and freeze. This is an important tip that I learned recently from a friend, don't mash the beans and freeze them, freeze them in this state after the soaking and cooking. Then when you want refried beans, you can pull a tupperware out of the freezer, defrost, and fry it up. Then it will be much fresher and taste like you made it that day!

So after you've divided up what you'll be eating and what you'll be freezing, turn back to the skillet on the stove. Over medium heat, start mashing the beans with a potato masher. Since the beans are soft this is not hard work. If there is a lot of liquid, then bring it up to simmer and the heat will thicken the beans.

Once you've done a good mash on the beans, add some salt and pepper. I also add chili powder, season it up according to your taste. Be careful on the salt, start with just a little and go up if you need it. It seems to me that these beans don't need a lot of salt. I ended up adding more pepper to these, and more bean liquid from the crockpot because I put too much salt in. Be careful with that salt.

I'm lucky. Because I married a man that is not picky about food. Really great considering when I got married I could only make german pancakes and taco salad. However, Mountain Man doesn't like lumpy refried beans. But if that's all I have to take, I can do it. So I puree my refried beans after I mash them. Just to make them more palatable for the Mountain Man. But it doesn't affect the taste, just the consistency.

And these ones, according to him, could have been pureed more. But anyway, you're done! In a food storage situation where I had no fresh ingredients, I would serve this with salsa (on top or mix it in) and chips or tortillas (all of those are great food storage items, especially the salsa).

A great recipe for cooked pinto beans is here at The Pioneer Woman Cooks. The recipe is great plain, or you could mash these beans up and serve as refried beans as Hannah does. In a food storage situation you would leave out the bacon. I've tried it and they still taste great.

While rotating your food storage, this is how we eat them. Yum.

Homemade Refried Beans

1-16oz pkg dried pinto beans
chili powder, optional

The night before, rinse the beans, then cover them with several inches of water in a large pot or crock pot. Leave out overnight.

In the morning, drain and rinse again. Cover with fresh water and place in crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. Check to see if the beans are done by tasting for softness.

Remove four cups of beans and a little liquid to deep skillet on stove top. Freeze remaining beans with a little water, discard majority of water. Mash beans in skillet over medium heat. Let simmer to thicken. Add seasonings to taste. Puree if desired.

Serve with salsa and any other toppings.


whitneyingram said...

What a great site! I can't wait to really dive in and read everything. Thank you for taking the time to put all of this information together.

Julie Weiss said...

I want that burrito/taco thing! It looks delicious. Do you have a costco near you? I found these INCREDIBLE uncooked tortilla's there. You just heat them on a pan and they are fresh and delicious. I don't know if I'll ever eat them another way.

Hannah said...

No, we don't have a Costco where Abs and I are, sadly. But next time we visit UT we'll have to check it out!

And Abs... great post, that burrito looks amazing. I'm hungry!

Anonymous said...

There is such a wealth of information here. It's making me feel even guiltier!

La Yen said...

I found you from Light Refreshments and LOVE this site! Our cannery out here offers freeze dried refried beans (In El Paso) and they are AMAZING. I don't know if you get that option where you are, but we absolutely live on them (and so does most of our ward!)

Flashlight Girl said...

My favorite refried beans are not even "fried"! After you've cooked your beans, throw some in the blender with a bit of salsa for flavor and blend them up. YUM! This also works great for dipping vegetables and crackers. Instead of freezing your leftover beans in tupperware, use freezer ziploc bags. You can smooth them out flat and stack them on top of each other to use up less freezer space. Microwaveable (sp?) and throw-away-able! Keep up the great work on the site!!

tsuzporter said...

I too love the Costco tortillas! They are great! Although they didn't last too long (got a little moldy), so now we freeze them. I just saw a Good Eats episode where he used office supply organization tools (such as CD holders) to storage things in the freezer. So we have our tortillas in a freezer bag laying in a CD sorter in our freezer. Things are much easier to get to! Have any of you seen the Good Eats episode on freezing foods? It's a GREAT food storage episode!!

Sarbear said...

I thought when I learned to make refried beans this way that if you don't use the liquid from the soaking the beans, they will cause less gassiness. I'm not positive this is true though. Anyone else heard this?

Also if you're a last minute dinner planner and you didn't decide to make the beans until a few hours before, the way I do it is I heat them up quickly in a pan on the stove first, then transfer them to a crock pot and set it on high. They are ready in a couple of hours.

Hannah said...

Yes - when I make my refried beans, I just cover them in 2 inches of water, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 2 hours (without pre-soaking). Then I just mash them up and call it a day! They are so good with salt and pepper. It really is just a matter of preference (or how much planning you put in!).

I have also heard that pre-soaking causes less gassiness. I have also heard, however, that the more you eat beans, the more your stomach will just get used to them and not cause as much gassiness.

Heather O. said...

Thanks for the great tip about freezing the beans. I opened one of my cans of pinto beans from the cannery, soaked half of it overnight in the crockpot, and made your delicious bean and rice soup. I was planning on making the refried beans with the leftovers, and THEN freezing them, but then I double checked this recipe, and found your tip. My baby eats soft beans by the handful, so this will be a great way to have a healthy snack available to her right away. Also, after I mashed the beans, I added a little olive oil, some salt, and more of the dehydrated onion, let 'em simmer for about 15 minutes, and wow, are they good! Thank you so much for this great site. I am enjoying it and learning a ton. And rest assured that I am passing everything I learn on to the women of our ward, so that they might feel more confident in their food storage and cooking skills. Keep it up, please!

Erin said...

Thank you! this was great. I love homemade refried beans, but I have only made them a few times and then I forget how I made them last time. :) I'm glad it's all written down here for me. :) I love your tips, and I'll be trying out your other bean recipes too. Thanks again!