Aside from meat, beans are a great source of protein; rich in vitamins and minerals. Depending on the variety, the seeds or beans can be eaten alone or within their pods. Edible beans come in many varieties including: soybeans, chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans. Many food dishes are made using either fresh, dried or canned beans. The advantage of using dried or canned beans is that they keep way longer than fresh beans and can be stored away for future use. The main difference between dried and canned beans is cooking time, storage method, and preparation.
Dried beans are picked when they have hardened inside of their pods. They are sold in loose form as a single variety or as a mixed assortment in plastic bags or containers. Many dried bean packages sometimes will include a packet of seasoning as well as sorting, soaking and cooking instructions on the back of the package as well. The biggest challenge that comes with cooking dried beans is the time required getting them soft enough to eat. A great tip to reduce cooking time is to first soak the dried beans in a container of water completely covering them, preferably overnight. Another method is to quick boil your dried beans in a rolling boil of water for at least an hour, then removing the beans, rinsing them, and then returning them to the stove at a reduced heat, and letting them simmer until you can easily stick your fork through them. Storing dried beans is best done in air-tight containers and have an extremely long shelf life.
If you decide to can pinto or green beans, the method involved will be relatively the same to preserve them. Make sure canning lids and jars are sterilized by putting them in boiling water. Jars should be are free of cracks and chips, and the lids and screw bands are dent-free and not rusted. At this point, you will need to follow your manufacturer’s canning instructions for sterile transference, proper sealing, and covering of the jars with lids for pinto or green beans. The advantage of canned beans to dried beans are that they are already soft and do not require soaking prior to cooking. Canned beans can be preserved if stored properly for up to five years, and are an ideal option for those who need to make nutritious meals quickly and easily.