Dried Red Kidney Beans

With energy prices spiralling out of control in the UK, it may be cheaper to buy tinned red kidney beans. They're certainly simpler, even if more processed and not as nice as ones you cook at home.

In recent years there's been a lot of chat about how it really isn't necessary to soak beans before cooking them. While this may be the case, they'll certainly take longer to cook.

Do bother to soak them in lots of water - for 6 hours at a pinch, though overnight (or in the morning to cook in the evening) may be easier. Rinse and drain them, then into a pan with fresh water (I boil a kettle for this) and half a teaspoon of salt. When they come to the boil, make sure you boil them hard for ten minutes. This destroys any alkaloids that may be present. Turn down the heat and pop a lid on, leaving a tiny gap for steam to escape. Check every 15 minutes or so to prevent ending up with a soggy mess of bean puree. Alternatively, after the hard boil, transfer them to a slow cooker and continue the process in that.

It used to be said that beans take an hour or two to cook (it still might, if you use a slow cooker). Recently all the beans I've cooked on the stove have been ready after 30 - 35 minutes total cooking time.

120g of dried red kidney beans (or any dried beans, for that matter) will net you the equivalent of a tin from the supermarket.

Find them in the Indian or West Indian food aisles.

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