07 August 2011

Provident Living Corner: Beginning a Loooooonger-term Food Storage

"For longer-term needs, and where permitted, gradually build a supply of food that will last a long time and that you can use to stay alive, such as wheat, white rice, and beans.  These items can last 30 years or more when properly packaged and stored in a cool, dry place.  A portion of these items may be rotated in your three-month supply."

August Home Storage Focus Item:  BEANS

Dry Beans:  pinto beans, lima beans, black eyed peas, lima beans, black beans, chickpea (garbanzo beans), kidney beans, OTHER LEGUMES ALSO PROVIDE VARIETY (e.g., split peas, lentils, peanuts, soy beans)

Benefits of Beans:  Beans offer variety to your food storage options and a money saving option for meat.  Beans are low in fat (no saturated fat or cholesterol), provide fiber, protein, calcium, iron, folic acid and potassium.  Current research from the U.S. Surgeon General suggests that beans reduce your risk for heart disease and certain cancers.

Food Storage Guidelines:  When stored in tightly sealed containers, in low moisture (less than 10%) and in a place free from insects, dry beans are good for 30+ years.  Store 5 lbs. per adult per month (see providentliving.com for a calculator for your family).  Cooked beans can be stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator and 6 months in the freezer.

How do you prevent intestinal discomfort from eating beans?  
*  The more often you have beans in your diet, the less intestinal discomfort you will have.
*  Overnight soaking and cooking of beans break down the starches which make them more digestible.  After the overnight soak, rinse beans, discard soaking water and cook beans with fresh water.
*  Drink plenty of fluids.  This helps your body handle the dietary fiber. 
*  Chew your food well and chew slowly.
*  Beano or similar products may also eliminate gas from beans.

Cooking Dry Beans:
Sort through beans, and discard rocks and any beans that are discolored or damaged.  For each cup (250ml; 1/2 lb.) of beans add three cups (750ml) of water (at room temperature) and soak overnight (about 10 hours); this will yield about 3 cups of cooked beans.  To cook the beans, drain them, rinse them thoroughly, and cover them with water.  Bring the water to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer for one or two hours until the beans are tender.  Adding one tablespoon (15 ml) of oil to the water will reduce foaming during cooking.  Do not add salt or anything acidic until the beans have softened adequately.  Spices, seasonings and aromatics can be added to beans when starting to cook them.  The longer dry beans are stored the longer they take to cook.  When beans don't soften with normal soaking and cooking, add three cups (750 ml) of water and 3/8 teaspoon (2ml) of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) for each cup (250ml) of dry beans.  Let them soak overnight.  More baking soda may be required for older beans or hard water.  Pressure cooking will decrease the cooking time.  Dry beans will cook in about 15 minutes, depending on the age of the beans.  The cooking time increases by approximately one-third if the beans are not soaked before they are cooked.

Ways to Add Beans to Your Meals:
Use cooked, dry beans or canned beans for...
* Soups/stews (e.g., pinto beans, navy beans, black beans, lentils, split peas)
*  Top salads with beans (e.g., chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, navy or other white bean)
*  Fill tacos with beans (e.g., pinto beans, kidney beans, chickpeas).  Add your favorite topping (salsa, tomato, lettuce, cheese)
*  Season canned beans.  Add vegetables and spices and your favorite sauces (tomato, molasses)
*  Use beans as a meat substitute.  Replace the meat with beans (e.g., kidney beans in chili, lentils in curry or meatloaf, white beans in stew, etc.)
*  Add beans to your favorite rice dishes
*  Substitute mashed white beans for shortening or margarine in your favorite baked goods recipe (to maintain the texture and flavor, you may want to substitute only half of the shortening for mashed beans)

-Monica Perez
August 2011
Provident Living Corner

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