Some types of beans -- such as kidney beans and black beans -- can be difficult to find fresh, though you can buy them canned or dried. Commercially canned beans contain a significant amount of sodium; you can control the amount of salt when you cook dried beans. On the other hand, canned beans don't need to be soaked so they're quicker to prepare -- but you will end up paying extra for this convenience compared to dried beans.
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Calculate the approximate amount of dried beans you can use within a year. This will tell you the maximum amount of beans you should buy at once to avoid having any go bad. You can calculate the amount of dried beans you use with some basic information. One serving of cooked beans equals 1/2 cup, and a single cup of dried beans makes 2 1/2 cups of cooked beans. Using these numbers, you can calculate the approximate amount of dry beans you will use within a year. For example, if you serve your four-person family beans twice a week, you need around eight servings -- or 4 cups -- of cooked beans a week. This is about 1.6 cups dried beans, times 52 weeks in a year comes to 83 cups of dried beans per year.
Examine dried beans before purchasing them. Look for wrinkled or shrivelled beans and excessive numbers of broken beans. Also look for pebbles, dirt clumps or other objects that should not be included with the beans. Wrinkled or shrivelled beans aren't fresh, and a high number of unintentionally included objects may suggest that the quality control was insufficient.
Look for an expiration date on the beans if they come in a bag. If the expiration date is well within a year, the beans are probably not fresh and you should search for a bag with a later expiration date. You may also find dried beans in bulk bins, in which case the exact expiration date may be less clear. In this case, ask a store employee for any information available on that particular batch of beans. If none is available, assess their freshness by looking for imperfect, wrinkled, broken or shrivelled beans.
Tips and warnings
- Store your beans in an airtight container to keep them fresh for as long as possible.
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