I ground about 6 pounds of dry, uncooked pinto beans. The idea is to cut down the cooking time. I ground them using a heavy, cast iron corn grinder. So I ground the beans in batches, first I picked the beans, if you have never cooked beans like this, you'd be shocked at what ends up in the package with the beans... rocks, dirt clods, mystery beans, corn, bug eaten beans, mystery seeds, bits of this and that, and the occasional non-organic item, I have no idea what the white, plastic thing is that I found in the beans.
After I picked the beans, I would place a handful of beans in a barely dampened towel and shake the beans around in the towel. Beans tend to come covered in grit, dirty, one should wash them, but since I was about to grind them, I didn't want to run the risk of grinding moistened dry beans, they might not store as well.
I ran them through the mill on a medium setting, enough to break them into smaller pieces, then I ran it through again on a tighter setting to grind it to nearly a powder, about the consistency of cornmeal. Now, what to put the bean meal in... I thought about zip-lock bags, then decided against it. Mountain Man Bob drinks lots of coffee with creamer, I try to buy the largest and cheapest creamer in the store. We have LOTS of empty (large) creamer containers, so I grabbed one of them. It worked perfectly! Each container holds about 1 and a half bags of bean meal. I filled 3 of them.
That all happening yesterday, I'm not as sore as I thought I might be, especially my right arm, my grinding arm. My hands are a bit sore, but all in all, it's not bad at all.
Last night I wanted to test how this bean meal cooks up. I put about a cup and a half of bean meal in a pan, added twice as much water and gave it a stir (no salt yet, it toughens the beans), I started them on high until it boiled then dropped it to low. I covered the pan and let it go. It really went through the water, about every 15 minutes, I would add another half cup of water and stir. About 2 hours later, the beans still had a raw bean taste and were gritty. I added a pinch of baking soda and continued cooking and adding water.
Well, it ended up taking nearly 4 hours to cook, that is far too long for me. The idea is to cut down on the cooking time, therefore using less propane. Once the beans were done, I seasoned them, salt, pepper, ground coriander seeds, filé powder... they were pretty tasty.
I decided to go ahead and try dehydrating the cooked bean paste. I poured the bean paste into sheet pan lined with parchment paper, I made sure the layer was thin. I placed this in a small (microwave sized) convection oven, propped the door open about a half inch using a butter knife, then turned on the oven on low. It took a few hours to completely dry. I had to stir the bean paste around, break it up to allow it to fully dry. Then I took the dry bean paste and ran it through the food processor to grind it into small pieces. It looks like coffee.
The only thing I didn't do was rehydrate it and taste it. I'll do that later.
Since I determined that the bean meal doesn't cook any faster, I took about a cup and a half of bean meal, added water and covered, it was left to sit all night, the idea is that soaked beans cook faster. We will see today.
OK, the soaked bean meal did cook faster, in about 2 hours, but it's still not any faster than cooking whole beans. So now I have decided the only way I am going to cook pinto beans faster is to use a pressure cooker. Fortunately we have 2 of them, a big one for canning and a smaller one for cooking. Just have to check the rubber gasket to make sure it's still OK, might do a test boil with just water to make sure it seals good.
BTW, dehydrating the cooked beans did work, I put some of the dehydrated beans in a pan, poured in quite a bit of water and heated it all up, They were pretty tasty.
Honestly, after all of this, I have decided that for now, I can and will continue buying instant refried beans, I can get them at the store in town, I can also get them from Sam's Club, they sell a 3 pound bag of instant refried beans for around $6, can't beat that for now. Unfortunately the only Sam's that carries them that I know of is in El Paso, at least 3 hours away. For now I know someone who goes out there several times a month (doctor visits), so I can stock up on them. At least I know that I can dehydrate refried beans for storage and eating later. :)
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