I'm fairly certain that you, dear reader, have heard of black beans. So why are you reading this blog post? Maybe you came here to find out about the nutritional facts of black beans. Or maybe you are wondering how to use more of them. Or maybe you're wondering how to prepare them. Let's dive in.
Nutritional Benefits of Black Beans
Black beans are a part of the Legume family, which means they have a lot of protein and are high in fiber. This means that they will fill you up faster and keep you feeling full longer. For this reason, eating beans is often correlated with weight loss, because you don't have to eat as much.
But weight loss aside, eating food that is high in fiber is just awesome for your body. It helps your digestive system work better because it helps keep things moving through your intestines. It's also great for your heart because it helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Black beans also have a lot of vitamins and minerals in them, like volate, B vitamins and iron.
Black Beans Compared to Other Beans
I really wanted to present you with some interesting reason why black beans were special compared to the other bean options out there, but honestly, I couldn't. In a side by side comparison of bean nutrition, you can see that each type of bean all varies a bit from each other in calories, fat, protein, carbs and fiber, but not in any significant way. This is also the case when comparing vitamin and mineral values.
Many of the beans have similar taste and texture to one another. Because of this, they can easily be substituted for another. Taste and texture wise, black beans are an especially good substitute for pinto, red and northern beans.
So why use black beans then? Traditionally, black beans are often found in recipes from Central and South America. This is because they were originally grown in the Americas. It makes sense to use them in these types of recipes then, ya know, stay true to the culture.
I would also argue that black beans should be used for their aesthetic value. It's true that we eat with our eyes, and often times, more naturally colorful food is more appetizing. Adding black beans, instead of pinto beans to a tomato dish adds a nice contrast of color that can make a dish look even more delicious.
Another example would be how popular black bean burgers are. I mean, since beans are all pretty similar, how come there aren't many kidney bean burgers? I think the answer lies in how they look. A black bean burger looks pretty close to a regular hamburger, while a kidney burger would end up being pinkish red, which would look like a raw hamburger. Our eyes would tell us that we don't want to eat that, no matter how tasty it actually is.
How to Cook Black Beans
You can purchase black beans in 2 different ways: dried or canned. Let's look at how to cook with both.
Canned Black Beans
The reason you might use canned black beans, rather than dry, is for convenience sake. Canned black beans are already fully cooked and ready to be used. You don't even have to heat them up if you don't want to.
Generally when using canned black beans, you'll want to drain and rinse the beans before adding them into your recipe. The only time you wouldn't do this is if the recipe you are making specifically says not to.
A can of black beans has about 1 ¾ cups of beans in it, so keep that in mind when following recipes.
Dry Black Beans
If canned beans are so convenient, why use dried? There are a few reasons. First, dry beans are less expensive. Admittedly, canned beans aren't very much (.58 cents at my Walmart), but the same equivalent of dry beans would only cost .20 cents. So if you are trying to save money wherever you can, go for dry beans.
The biggest reason for using dry beans, however, is for the flavor. When cooking dry beans you have complete control over the texture and taste of the beans. You can get a deeper flavor by seasoning them while they cook. You can also cook them for a shorter time if you are looking for a firmer bean, or cook them longer if you want them softer. Canned beans also have a lot of sodium in them, which you can reduce if you're using dry beans.
The bad news is that dry black beans will need to be softened and cooked before adding them into recipes. Depending on the method you use, this can take anywhere from 45 mins to all day long. Cooking methods include using the Instant Pot, the stove top, the crock pot or the oven. To read up on the pros and cons of these different methods, and how to use them, check out "THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO COOKING DRY BEANS, PART 3: COOKING METHODS."
Obviously, canned beans can just be stored in their cans on your shelf. Dried black beans should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark location. I like to use a quart sized mason jar.
Make sure that you use up all your dried beans before adding more beans to your storage container. The age of dried beans make a difference in cooking times, so if you mix older beans, with newer beans, you may end up with some soft and some firm beans when they are cooked.
Cooked dry beans can also be frozen. This is awesome because sometimes you don't have hours ahead of time to prepare dried beans. Why not make a large batch and freeze it in individual portions. That way, when you need them, it's just a matter of pulling them out of the freezer. Frozen beans last in the freezer for about 6-8 months. For more information about how to freeze cooked beans, check out "HOW TO COOK AND FREEZE DRY BEANS" from An Oregon Cottage.
Share your black bean recipes with me!
Thank you for reading this guide to cooking with black beans. I’d love to hear your favorite way to eat barley. Tell me in the comments or find me on Facebook! Can’t wait to discover some new recipes from you.