Treasures of the Heart

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tutorial on crockpot pinto beans - yummy

I seem to be famous for my beans and am often asked how I make them. Here is a tutorial - step by step. #1 I always choose the best quality pinto beans. (I never, never, never use old beans that are dark brown!) I do use beans from the cannery - they seem to stay fresh pretty well - but they do have to be thoroughly washed as they are not very clean. Mostly, I prefer to purchase from Walmart (not Sam's) as they are fresher or from Sprout's in a 25# or 50# bag. Beans are not very expensive, so splurge and use the best! I fix beans once a week, even now that I only have 2 at home. They freeze well, though we usually eat them up too fast to make that practical. My mother still cooks hers from the dry stage, just a small amount. I start with a colander filled half full for a large group or maybe a third full for a small group. My daughter noticed I wash and wash and wash them, swishing them around with my hand. I place the colander in a larger bowl (which you cannot see in this picture) so they are very well cleaned. If you use the triple cleaned beans you don't usually have to sort them out by hand to make sure there are no rocks or yucky stuff in them. My mother always sorts them by hand first - spreading them out on the counter to make sure no rocks are in them. I'm lazy and only do that if they look dirty. Sometimes I soak the beans overnight. A couple of years ago, Hanne told me I don't need to, so now I usually don't. Typically I put the beans in the crockpot after I have washed them, and fill the pot with water up to about 3 inches from the top. Then I chunk up an onion and throw it in the pot with some sprinkles of red chili pepper (about a tablespoon). Since my cooking class I took in Santa Fe I now add a spice called "Epazote". Native to Central America, especially Mexico and Guatemala, epazote is common to those cuisines. It is most often used fresh in these regions to flavor beans, corn and fish. The strongly scented herb is said to help avoid the gastric discomfort that sometimes occurs after eating beans. Ancient Aztecs used epazote both medicinally and as a culinary herb. I decided to copy the definition for your information. This is a great help and helps us enjoy beans without intestinal problems. Sometimes when I'm done I throw in Mexican Oregano from my little pot I have growing outside. I never, never salt at this stage. Ready to cook! I usually start about 10 or 11:00 when I don't presoak. When the beans are done (about 5:00) I add the salt and fresh Mexican Oregano. The beans will always be tender if salt is added at the end rather than at the beginning. I don't know why - that's just how it is. (Grandma Sevey always adds fresh chili peppers and fresh cayenne peppers at the end. When Beth was little she loved eating them with vinegar like Grandma did.)


Anonymous said...

What a yummy tutorial, Mom! Mmmm... makes me want to make some beans!

Karl said...

Where do you get the epazote?

SylviaBielefeldt said...

I bought epazote in Santa Fe and am nearly out, so am looking online for a place close by. I found a place called Penzeys in Scottsdale and will need to make a trip there if I can't find it closer. Apparently there is a Penzeys in Alabama. There are places online to order it and I may do that.

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