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Dried Beans 101

The Martha Stewart Show, February 2008

Beans are a great addition to your family meals. They are low in fat and high in protein. They are also rich in fiber, B vitamins, and calcium.

Adzuki Beans
The red beans in desserts such as red-bean cakes, their light, sweet flavor makes them good for desserts, but they also add flavor to savory dishes. They don't need to be soaked ahead of time, and contain easily digestible sugars that won't cause gas or bloating.

Black Beans
Black beans have black skin, cream-colored flesh, and a sweet flavor. They are good in soups, salads, and salsas, and have to be soaked before using.

Cannelini Beans
Cannelini beans, also known as white beans, have a rich and creamy texture. They tend to fall apart when cooked, adding body to soups. Cannelini beans can be used right out of the can on salads.

Red Kidney Beans
Red kidney beans have firm skin and hold their shape well when cooked. They have a meaty flavor, and are great for chili and spicy dishes.

It's very simple to cook using dried beans. Start by picking them over to be sure there are no broken shells. Rinse the beans thoroughly in cold water, then soak them to rehydrate them. To soak beans: Place in a large bowl or pot and add water to cover generously (three times as much water as beans). You can refrigerate the beans for at least four hours and up to 24. Cooking times and instructions differ according to the dish, but it's good to turn off the heat 10 minutes before the recipe says they will be done and let them cool in the cooking liquid. This will prevent the beans from splitting.

Special Thanks
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