Survival: Know Your Dried Beans!

Dried Beans and Survival

Beans are found in tons of American recipes. That's not really surprising when you consider that Native Americans were growing, cooking, and eating beans long before the white man set foot in the New World. I’m not sure if this is a widespread saying or not, but here in the South we often say that someone “doesn’t know beans” when he’s speaking on a topic about which he has little knowledge. By reading this article, you can be immune to such name-calling, however, because you will know beans! Dried beans have gained a lot of attention lately because of soaring food prices and economic uncertainty. Because of their high protein and the fact that they'll last for years without refrigeration, dried beans are usually at the top of any survivalist list. If you're interested in long-term storage of dried beans for survival, find out how to get free or cheap storage containers for your beans.

Dried beans, sometimes referred to as “dry beans,” are actually legumes, or pulses, and are members of the leguminosae plant family. Legumes form seed pods that tend to split when the seeds are mature, and the family includes beans and peas. When young, legumes can often be eaten fresh, like vegetables – butter beans, black-eyed peas, and scarlet runner beans, for example. Once they’ve been dried, they’re high in soluble fiber, complex carbohydrates, thiamin, iron, zinc, folacin, magnesium, copper, and manganese, while being low in fat. Beans are an inexpensive way to get needed protein, too. In fact, one cup of cooked dried beans provides more than one-third of your daily protein requirement, at an average of 230 calories. Now you understand why dried beans could be an important part of survival during emergencies. Even without electricity, the beans could be cooked over an outdoor gas cooker or even a campfire.

Several varieties can be purchased canned, and they require no cooking. Unless you’re including them in a cold salad, however, you’ll probably want to warm them before eating. Packaged dried beans, on the other hand, almost always need to be soaked in order to reduce cooking time. Even after soaking, most dried bean varieties need to be cooked for several hours. They’re often seasoned with onions, olive oil, chicken broth, chunks of cured ham, or powdered ham flavoring. The canned beans are easier and quicker, but the dried beans you cook yourself are much tastier.


You'll find many American recipes for dried beans.
You'll find many American recipes for dried beans.

Popular Dried Bean Varieties

 

aduki beans
aduki beans

Aduki beans

Aduki, also called azuki or adzuki, beans are one of the few dried bean varieties that don’t need soaking, so they don't require as much prep time. They're small and have a slightly sweet flavor. These are the beans used to make red bean paste that's used extensively in East Asian cuisine.

 

anasazi beans
anasazi beans

Anasazi beans

This bean is sweet and firm, and it holds its shape well during cooking. It has a somewhat mealy texture and is often part of Southwestern regional cuisine. Anasazi beans should be soaked for at least five or six hours.

 

black beans
black beans

Black beans

Black beans have a smooth, soft texture and an earthy, mushroom-like flavor. They hold their shape well when cooked, so they're often used in salads. They also go well with corn. Black beans are popular in Mexican, Brazilian, and Cuban cuisine. Soak for a minimum of four hours.

cranberry beans
cranberry beans

Cranberry beans

Cranberry beans have a mild, nutty flavor reminiscent of chestnuts. They absorb other flavors readily and are popular in Northern Italian cuisine. Unfortunately, they lose their beautiful red color through the cooking process. They need to soak for at least four hours before cooking.

flageolet beans
flageolet beans

Flageolet beans

These beans are small, with a creamy texture. Flageolet beans are often referred to as "the caviar of beans" and are relatively expensive. They’re used widely in French cuisine and are often served with lamb. Soak for five hours before cooking.

fava beans
fava beans

Fava beans

Fava beans are large, very hard beans that need to soak overnight before cooking. They have a sweet, nutty taste and a creamy texture. Fava beans are popular in Mediterranean cuisine and are often added to pasta, risotto, and soups.

great northern beans
great northern beans

Great northern beans

These beans have a very mild flavor, thin skins, and a velvety texture when cooked. They readily absorb the flavors of added spices and herbs. They’re a popular ingredient in Mediterranean dishes and in French cassoulet. They need to soak for a minimum of four hours.

 

Kidney beans are used in American recipes like chili.
Kidney beans are used in American recipes like chili.

Kidney beans

Kidney beans have a slightly sweet flavor and a soft texture when cooked. They’re very versatile and can be used in a wide array of dishes, including chili, refried beans, and cold salads. Unlike some brightly colored beans, kidney beans retain their dark red color with cooking. Kidney beans need to soak for five or six hours before simmering.

 

lima beans
lima beans

Lima beans

These beans have a buttery, sweet, starchy taste and a smooth texture. When cooked for long periods, they create a thick, gravy-like liquid. Lima beans are native to South America and are popular in Andean foods. They're also used widely in regional Southern cuisine. Soak overnight before cooking.

Mexican red beans
Mexican red beans

Mexican red beans

 

Mexican red beans have a mild taste and a smooth texture. Even after sufficient cooking, they remain firm and intact. As their name implies, these beans are often part of Mexican dishes. They need to soak for at least four hours.

 

navy beans
navy beans

Navy beans

Navy beans, also called Yankee beans, have a soft, dense texture and a mild flavor. They tend to hold their shape during cooking and are often used to make Boston baked beans. These beans were once a staple of the U.S. Navy. Soak for five or six hours before cooking.

 

pink beans
pink beans

Pink Beans

Pink beans have a hearty, meaty flavor, a refined texture, and are often used in chili, soups, stews, and similar dishes. Soak for four hours or longer before cooking.

pinto beans
pinto beans

Pinto beans

These beans become very soft when cooked and have an earthy flavor. They have the most fiber of all dried beans. Pinto beans are a staple in Latino cuisine and are the preferred beans used in making refried beans and bean dips. Soak for six hours before cooking.

rattlesnake beans
rattlesnake beans

Rattlesnake beans

 This is a type of pinto bean, and the texture and taste is much the same. Actually, only the vines are different. Soak for six hours.

red beans
red beans

Red beans

These beans are very popular in the Southern U.S., especially as a part of Cajun and Creole dishes like red beans and rice. They’re well complimented with the use of spices. Soak for at least four hours.

scarlet runner beans
scarlet runner beans

Runner beans

These large beans pack a lot of flavor – more than many other types of dried beans. These beans are also not as starchy as most other varieties.There are three types of runner beans: scarlet, black, and white. In the U.S., the scarlet variety is often grown as an ornamental due to its red flowers. Soak for six hours.

white kidney beans
white kidney beans

White kidney beans

Also known as cannellini beans, these beans are similar in taste and texture to navy beans, but they have a slightly different shape. As the beans simmer, they readily absorb other flavors. They’re often used in white chili, minestrone, and other soups and stews. Soak for a minimum of four hours.

Buying and storing dried beans

You can find dried beans in grocery stores, at farmers’ markets, and online. Many varieties are available in small packages and in bulk bins.

Dried beans can keep for up to thirty years when stored properly. For pre-packaged beans, make sure the plastic bag contains no holes. Store beans at room temperature – not in the refrigerator.

If you buy and store dried beans in bulk, they can be separated into smaller quantities and stored in glass jars or plastic containers, with the lids tightly closed. For storing larger amounts, place them in large plastic tubs with tight-fitting lids. Add an oxygen-absorbing packet to the container and store in a cool, dry place.

To store cooked beans, place them in a container with a lid and cover them with some of the cooking liquid. Close tightly. The beans will keep for up to four days in the fridge, and they get more flavorful each time they’re re-heated. Of course, you can also use them cold in salads.

Cooked beans can also be frozen. Allow the beans to cool after cooking. Place them in freezer bags or freezer boxes and cover with cooking liquid. Store in the freezer for up to six months.

For more tips about dried beans, watch the video below.

Under the video, you’ll find links to some great bean recipes!

tips for soaking beans

More by this Author


Comments 39 comments

SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

Here you 'can't spell worth beans"


2besure profile image

2besure 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

I love beans. When I make a pot, we eat them in two day.


Wendy Krick profile image

Wendy Krick 6 years ago from Maryland

I love beans. Navy bean soup is my favorite!


samboiam profile image

samboiam 6 years ago from Texas

Pinto beans and cornbread, it doesn't get any better than that. Three bean soup is pretty dog gone good as well.


netlexis profile image

netlexis 6 years ago from Southern California

How timely! I spend the day reorganizing my pantry and putting all types of beans in new jars.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I'll remember that, Steve!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

2besure, my hubby could live off beans!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Wendy, I think lima beans are my fave!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Sam, for me, it's lima beans, cornbread, and rice!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Netlexis, I have ESP. Or is it ESPN?? lol


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

I love beans and cooked them very often.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

We do, too, HH!


DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 6 years ago

Habee, Just cooked a delightful tasty pot of ham & beans to go along with the smoked ribs for Memorial Day...


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD

Thanks, Habee. We use a lot of dried beans in our cooking, so we always have a good supply of them, BUT, you've provided us with a couple new varieties to check out.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Habee, I almost did a hub like this but thankfully I didn't! It's difficult when there is a contest and we are all writing about the same types of things. This was very good and the pictures were great.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Beans are beans, eh? Great job and lovely presentation!


Lee B profile image

Lee B 6 years ago from New Mexico

I love pinto beans but had never heard of Rattlesnake beans. I really want to try some! Great hub!


nancy_30 profile image

nancy_30 6 years ago from Georgia

I learned a lot from this. I've never heard about some of these beans. I will have to check them out. I think I'm the only one in my family that enjoys eating beans so I don't cook them very often.


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

WOW beautiful pictures of beans, I love beans, eat them everyday being a veg head dried beans are a must. :)


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Oooo, Deb - mail me some ribs!


theherbivorehippi profile image

theherbivorehippi 6 years ago from Holly, MI

I eat dried beans EVERY day. I have two shelves in my cupboards full of beans. I have not seen these rattlesnake beans though!! I will have to try and find these! Awesome..thanks!!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Ken! Long time no see!


Loren's Gem profile image

Loren's Gem 6 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

Great information! I love all the beans you listed in your article, yet haven't tried cooking all of them. Most of the typical Turkish dishes include beans and they are very appetizing. However, the white kidney beans and the great northern beans look almost alike and I don't know exactly which one among the two we call "kuru fasulye" in Turkish. Anyway, thanks for sharing this info! Love your photos by the way! :-)


platinumOwl4 profile image

platinumOwl4 6 years ago

Your article is an eye opener to me. Why? you may ask. I discovered I don't know beans. In your article I discovered beans I had never heard of but I intend to try. Remember the three boys in the fiery furnace the changed their food and became healthier.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Many thanks, Pam!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Buckie!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Lee! Thanks for reading!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

But NAncy - they're so healthy!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Katie, you've probably tried them all, eh?


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Herbi, I've had rattlesnake beans only a couple of times. They taste like pintos, but their stems and vines are crooked, like a snake.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks for stopping by, Loren!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Glad you found it useful, Owl!


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas

Never heard of flageolet, rattlesnake, or white kidney beans. I came across another odd one in Saltzman's book- tongue of fire beans.

You forgot the HubMob graphic and RSS capsule. Also only this hub and your corn hub are in the HubMob RSS feed. The others are not HM. Sorry!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, RM! I kinda got screwed up with the RSS and the contest thing. Sorry.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 5 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Fabulous and I love all my different beans. They are a bit windy though lol


Joseph Asumadu 4 years ago from Ghana-aWest Africa

We have some local beans that we use to prepare soup in fact I like it so much .Beans is good for me.


virginia mitchell 2 years ago

When I am cooking fresh green beans I will add the shelled cranberry beans to the green beans if I can find them. Very hard to find I live in southern Ohio.


GetitScene profile image

GetitScene 2 years ago from The High Seas

Epically fantastic and amazing article, bravo!


shawn smith 5 weeks ago

beans are the most heathiest food around but a lot of people make fun of them and talk some stupid crap, but we need them.

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