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Dried vs. Canned Beans

When faced with the choice of cooking with dry beans or canned beans, what’s the best option for home cooks? The answer depends on many factors, including cost, convenience, and control.

Cost: If you want to save money, cook with dry beans.

Dry beans cost less per serving than canned beans. For example, a one pound bag of dry pinto beans costs, on average, $1.79 and will make 12-½ cup servings of cooked beans whereas a 15 oz. can of national brand pinto beans costs $1.69, a store brand can costs $1.19, and each provides 3.5-½ cup servings. This means that a serving of pinto beans made from dry beans costs just $0.15 while a serving of store brand canned pinto beans costs $0.34 and the national brand costs $0.48. A family of four that eats beans once a week could save nearly $80 per year by choosing dry beans versus a national brand of canned beans.

Type of Bean Cost Per Serving*
Dry Pinto Beans $0.15
Canned Pinto Beans (store brand) $0.34
Canned Pinto Beans (national brand) $0.48

*Prices based on a supermarket price review conducted in November 2015.

Convenience: If you want to save time, cook with canned beans.

While many people will find the cost savings of dry beans very appealing, they won’t necessarily like the time and effort it takes to cook with dry beans. It can take 3 to 24 hours—depending on soaking and cooking method—to sort, rinse, soak, and cook dry beans before you are ready to add them to a recipe whereas cooking with canned beans is as easy as opening the can. If you value your time more than your money, using canned beans is the better option. With that said, you can also cook larger batches of dry beans, and then freeze for use in dishes like soups, stews, and chili thereby providing both the cost savings of dry beans and the convenience of a ready-to-use canned ingredient.

Control: If you want less sodium, cook with dry beans.

A third issue to consider is the control you have when you start with dry beans, specifically over the amount of sodium in the final dish. A ½ cup serving of pinto beans cooked from dry beans with no added salt is virtually sodium free while a ½ cup serving of canned pinto beans contains approximately 200 milligrams of sodium. You can drain and rinse canned beans to remove about 40 percent of the sodium. You can also buy lower sodium versions of many canned bean products. But if you want to more carefully control the sodium in the final dish, you’re better off starting with dry beans. Finally, keep in mind that when cooking dry beans it’s best to not add salt or other ingredients that contain sodium until the beans are soft and fully cooked. The sodium can affect the beans’ ability to fully cook and soften.

(Source: The Bean Institute)

Add Beans for National Nutrition Month

 
March is National Nutrition Month – a good time to be mindful of building more nutritious meals. Canned beans are a perfect choice, providing a convenient and fast way to add more fiber, protein, potassium, and iron to menus. There are a plethora of ways to add beans to your favorite meals. You can:
  • Add beans to any salad, turning it into a main meal
  • Stir beans into canned tomato soup
  • Add beans to prepared pasta sauce and enjoy over spaghetti or rice
  • Mix beans into macaroni and cheese
  • Top a baked potato with beans and salsa
  • Add beans to any curry recipe

Speed Up the Bean Soaking Process

If you forgot to soak your beans the night before you plan to cook them, the hot soak method can come to the rescue. Cover the beans with water, bring to a boil and boil for three minutes. Remove them from the heat and let them soak in the hot water for an hour. Then drain, rinse, add fresh water and cook. It’s okay to let the beans soak longer if you don’t have time to cook them right away but be sure to put them in the refrigerator after they’ve soaked for an hour. Get more tips here.

northarvest bean day

Celebrate World Pulses Day

February 10 is World Pulses Day, which celebrates pulses around the globe. As one of the most sustainable, nutritious and affordable foods worldwide, beans figure prominently in nearly all cultures. The U.S. Dry Bean Council has launched their World Pulses Day activities. Learn more here. Stay connected during the celebration by using #WorldPulsesDay and #LovePulses.

Teaching Children About Beans

Helping children become familiar with beans can improve healthy food habits, according to an article published in the School Nutrition Magazine. Social studies classes offer a fun way to introduce children to the culinary aspects of beans by encouraging them to research traditional global dishes and by having students share their own family traditions using beans. In high school art classes, students can explore beans through botanical drawings. Germinating beans in wet paper towels is an easy science project for young children. Learn more.

Bean Promotional Campaigns Take Colombia by Storm

A free trade agreement has made Colombia a market of potential for U.S. dry bean exports, as the U.S. is now price competitive. Support from the USDA FAS Emerging Market Program and Agricultural Trade Promotion Program has allowed the U.S. Dry Bean Council to launch several different marketing programs. The marketing programs are multi-media and run under two distinct campaigns, Todo con Frijol (Beans with Everything) and El Arte de Frijol – The Art of Beans. The campaigns include workshops, cooking demos, meetings with top Colombian chefs, recipe books and promotional video clips. Read more.

Dry Bean Scene

The Northarvest Bean Growers Association is launching a new video, featuring farmers, processors and researchers to tell the story of dry edible beans and those who grow and consume them. Hear more about the video in the latest Dry Bean Scene on the Red River Farm Network, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

Wash It Out

Reducing sodium can be as easy as swilling out your beans! Draining and rinsing canned beans can reduce their sodium content by more than 40 percent, but taking just a few extra minutes is key to getting the most benefit.
  • First, drain the beans in a colander for two minutes. 
  • Then rinse the beans under cool running water for 10 seconds.
  • Let them drain for another two minutes.
The reduced-sodium beans are ready to use in any favorite recipe. Check out the details here

Social Media Campaign Promotes Dry Beans in Turkey

 
With support from the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service’s Agricultural Trade Promotion program, the U.S. Dry Bean Council kicked off a social media campaign in Turkey. The goal is to educate Turkish consumers about all dry bean classes grown in the United States and increase U.S. exports to Turkey. Although they consume dry beans virtually every day, few Turkish consumers know that the U.S. is a major supplier of dry beans.
 
The campaign features recipes and weekly meal plans on Facebook and Instagram, the two largest social media platforms in Turkey. A second component of the program is the creation of a Turkish-language website to provide consumers with information regarding the types of dry beans that the U.S. has to offer, as well as the health benefits.
 

Ag Day at the Capitol

The Northarvest Bean Growers Association participated in Ag Day at the North Dakota State Capitol on Tuesday, March 19. This annual event recognizes the agricultural community by highlighting the crops and commodities produced in the state.
 
Megan Myrdal, director of domestic marketing and communications, represented Northarvest by showcasing a variety of products. Featured were Northarvest beans and visitors sampled bean chips with a pinto bean hummus. Click here for the recipe.