The Reason You Should Be Buying Dried Beans Instead Of Canned Ones

Beans are truly a magical food.  Not only are they high in protein, fiber, iron, and other vitamins (per Medical News Today), but they are also affordable and versatile.

Beans can be stewed, whipped into a delicious hummus or dip, sprinkled into a salad, or used as a meat alternative to make fritters, burgers, and other hearty meals. Food Network lists a host of ideas for beans, including roasting chickpeas for a delicious snack, making a black bean taco, and adding them to your breakfast Benedict. 

Granted, the easiest way to consume beans is by simply opening a can of store-bought beans. The supermarket shelves are filled with chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, and more just waiting to be eaten immediately. 

Yet, while it's super easy to open a can of beans, most recipes that call for canned beans suggest rinsing them before use. Southern Living calls the liquid in a can of beans "gunky" and "less than appetizing" and, while adding that the liquid is really just starch, salt, and water, "it's high in sodium and doesn't taste very good." Thus, dried beans have become the ideal alternative. Here's why.  

The benefits of dried beans

Before you stock up on canned beans at the supermarket, take a walk over to the dried beans aisle. Dried beans have a world of benefits, including being more affordable and much lower in sodium than canned beans. They also taste better, according to Reddit users. The National Library of Medicine also notes that dried beans are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and can "reduce risk of ischemic heart disease and diabetes." 

Dried beans can also be stored for about a year, according to Good Housekeeping, so savvy consumers can buy their beans in bulk to save money, using what they need as they go. Buying in bulk is also better for the planet, according to Green America

Dried beans do take a bit of work and preparation before you can enjoy them, however. Most dried beans need to be soaked overnight before they can be cooked. If you are pressed for time, you can quick-soak the beans by boiling them in water for two minutes and then taking the beans off the burner and letting them soak, covered, for about an hour. 

How to use dried beans

Instant Pots work wonders for dried beans, with most recipes leaving out the need to pre-soak them. Simply Recipes suggests skipping the pre-soak and simply adding 1-lb. of black beans, chickpeas, or kidney beans (and enough liquid to cover all your beans) into your Instant Pot, along with one tablespoon of oil, salt, and the seasonings of your choice. Consult your manual for cooking times, as many Instant Pots have a preset for beans. If the beans are still too hard, pressure cook them for an additional 5-10 minutes. Your cooked beans can be used or consumed immediately or refrigerated for up to five days.

Once your dried beans are cooked, the ways to use them are endless. Forget sodium-laden refried beans from the can and make your own. Hummus lovers can create unique flavor profiles for their homemade concoction by using fresh herbs, vegetables, and citrus. Beans can be made into hearty meals like stews or rice and beans, too, or even eaten on-the-go as a healthy alternative to other snacks.