Do you really know how to cook that?

Learning to cook from our food preps!

Pot of pino beans cooking in my cast iron dutch oven.

One of the first things we are told when we decide we want to be preppers is to store lots of beans and rice. And, I mean LOTS of beans and rice!

Today, I'm cooking a nice pot of pinto beans (see picture above). I haven't had them in a while and was having a hankering for them. Pinto beans and cornbread is one of my favorite meals from my childhood! But, as I was preparing them last night, I got to thinking about whether or not people who store them as a part of their long term food storage actually know how to cook them. Those thoughts prompted me to write this blog article.

Growing up, we had pinto beans and cornbread for supper at least once a week. My mom was born and raised in the South and that was a staple food for them. I watched my mother make tons of pots of pinto beans and not once did I see her soak the beans overnight. Nope. She would open the bag of beans, check them for any rocks or dirt as she put them in a strainer and rinsed them. Then she put them in the pan, added water and salt pork, and cooked them on the stove top for 3-4 hours.

I had never even heard of soaking the beans overnight until a couple of years ago. I had read in a few historical fiction novels how the pioneers would soak the beans overnight and I didn't even think anything of it. Then, I got an Instant Pot and was looking for recipes for making pinto beans in one of those and found where there were options to soak or not soak the beans. A good majority of the recipes recommended soaking the beans overnight...or for a miniumum of six hours during the day. I had also read where soaking the beans before cooking them would cause less gas after eating them! So, I had to try soaking them first, lol. And, guess what?!? It proved to be true! There was less gas after eating them. They also were quicker to cook! I cooked them in the Instant Pot and loved that method.

However, it occurred to me that if we were without electricity I would not be able to cook my stored beans using my Instant Pot. So, I tried the soak method on the stove top and I was very pleased with how they turned out as well. And, that's what got me to thinking last night about cooking our food preps. You would definitely want to soak your beans either overnight or for a minimum of six hours in a SHTF situation. In doing so, it would take two to three hours less cooking time; one hour versus three to four hours. Soaking your beans before cooking will be vital in an emergency/SHTF situation. Since soaked beans take less time to cook, you will be saving lots of cooking fuel (no matter what you are using) by doing so. Please note that older beans (more then a couple of years old) may need to soak longer and will definitely need to cook longer in order to soften them up so they are not tough and chewy. Thus, the need to rotate your beans.

Rotating your beans in your food storage will not only provide fresher beans when you need them, but learning how to cook them now will be very beneficial to you when you have to cook them for an emergency/SHTF situation. Not only that, but it will also give you time and opportunity to try different recipes with the beans that you could use when the time comes to dig them out of storage. After all, eating just plain beans and rice would become boring very early on!

You can use pinto beans for chili, soups, refried beans, and many more dishes! And, the best time to learn how to use them for different recipes is NOW; not when SHTF. I would say the same goes for rice. Learn how to cook different recipes using your beans and rice now, so when you really need it you won't tire of eating the same thing over and over every day.

Be aware that beans and rice are not the only food you will need to store. But, be careful you don't make the mistake of saving them for last! Beans and rice will be good to use in between cooking your canned goods and other non-perishable food items. Using them in between your other food storage items will hopefully keep you from getting too bored with your food early on.

Here's my recipe for cooking plain old pinto beans:

1. Sort beans to make sure there are no rocks in them (rocks can sometimes slip through the filters used to separate the beans from their stalks/pods).

2. Rinse beans.

3. Soak beans overnight, or for a minimum of 6 hours.

4. Put beans in a pot and cover them with water, making sure to have about an inch of water above the beans.

5. Add salt pork, bacon, or salted butter to pot (almost any kind of fat with salt will do).

6. Cover pot with lid.

7. Bring water to a boil.

8. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 1-1/2 hours, or until tender.

Note: If the water boils down before beans are done cooking, simply add more water; about a cup at a time.

There you have it! Learn how to cook those beans now because trust me it will save you a lot of frustration and stress later on!

Until next time...happy prepping, and God bless!