Pinto beans are a simple, inexpensive food that we enjoy frequently. For maximum digestibility and nutrition, pinto beans should be soaked in filtered water with a pinch of baking soda before they are cooked. Like other legumes and grains, pinto beans contain the anti-nutrient phytic acid which can interfere with the absorption of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Soaking beans helps to neutralize the phytic acid and improves their digestibility (thereby reducing their tendency to cause gassiness).
I like to make a double batch of pinto beans in a large pot, and then freeze most of them in single serving jars for easy dinner additions later on. I generally freeze pinto beans in 2-cup glass mason jars, which is just the right amount for my family of four to have as a side dish.
Basic Pinto Beans
1 pound (16 oz) of dried pinto beans, preferably organic
Filtered water and a dash of baking soda, for soaking the beans
dash of cayenne pepper
one white or yellow onion, peeled but not chopped
1.5 tsp Celtic sea salt
In a large bowl, cover the beans with plenty of filtered water and the baking soda. The beans will soak up quite a bit of water, so be sure to add plenty. Cover and allow to soak at least 8 hours or overnight.
Drain and rinse the beans in a colander.
In a 4-qt or larger pot, combine the beans, salt, onion, cayenne, and plenty of filtered water/broth. More liquid can be added as needed while the beans cook.
Bring the beans to a low boil and skim off the foam that rises to the top. Discard the foam.
Cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer. Depending on how fresh the beans are and how long they were soaked, they will need to cook for 1-4 hours. After soaking overnight, my pinto beans are typically done after cooking for about 2 hours.
The beans are done when they are nicely soft, with no crunchiness. The onion can be discarded, if desired. Pinto beans can make a simple main course, perhaps topped with some shredded cheese and/or a fried egg. Or, for a simple southern style meal, serve pinto beans alongside cornbread. Pinto beans also make a great side dish with barbecue or Mexican foods.
If you want to freeze some of the beans for later use, make sure to leave an inch of headspace at the top of your jar, and make sure to add enough of the bean liquid to fully cover the beans.
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