This post is really about the obvious end of the vegetarian diet -when you go vegetarian legumes become an important source of protein in your diet.
If you start cooking vegetarian food you quickly realize that doing beans out of cans is expensive. Dried beans are cheaper. Unfortunately they take a long time to cook in a pot on the stove. You can also end up with pot-burning disasters if you are like me and you wander off while cooking your beans and boil them dry.
Your remaining two options are slow cooker and pressure cooker beans.
Slow cooker beans
Slow cooker beans are great. Rinse the beans under cold water and discard broken, and odd looking beans. They do not need soaking, with the exception of red kidney beans, which need to be put in a pot and covered with boiling water and left to stand for at least 1 hour. Once the red kidney beans have been soaked, then rinse them, cover them with water in the pot and bring to the boil, letting boil for 10 minutes. Transfer them to the slow cooker and cook for the remainder of time.
|Bean/Legume||Water for 500g||Cook time|
|Black eyed peas||1600||4 – 5.5 hrs|
|Chick peas||1750||4.5- 6 hrs|
|Brown Lentils||1250||3-4 hrs|
|Red Kidney Beans||1900||5-6 hrs after 1 hour hot soak and 10 min rapid boil|
Pressure cooker beans
Not everyone has a pressure cooker but if you are making a commitment to eating at least 3 meals a week of vegetarian foods it soon becomes obvious that a pressure cooker is very useful. I have ended up getting some pressure cooker envy going into small appliance retailers as I use my cheap old-fashioned one, I picked up from a charity shop…here is hoping my family realizes my next big birthday is within a couple of years and I would really, really, really like one of the fancy ones!
Understanding pressure cooker times is what matters, and the different ways of reducing pressure once cooked. Also most beans (red kidney beans the MAJOR exception) can be cooked from hard rather than soaked, but if you do soak the cooking time of many beans is seriously short.
This link is excellent and has all the information you need on cooking with a pressure cooker. Most of our pressure cookers work at 15 PSI.
Storing your beans
If you are cooking up bulk beans, spreading them thinly on a tray to cool then freezing them so you can then put the free-flow into a container is a great idea. I have learned to label my recycled ice-cream containers extremely well to avoid disappointment of going into the fridge and hoping there is ice-cream.