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  • Oct
  • 19

Epazote: The Simple Secret to Cooking Perfect Beans

Posted by at 6:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

beansCooking with dried beans can be intimidating, but don’t worry: It’s easy! Sure, opening a can may seem easier, but trust me, it’s not much more difficult to do it the old fashioned way–and it’s much cheaper. I think the hardest part is remembering to soak the beans. And freshly cooked beans have a taste that just can’t compare to canned beans. They are almost sweet.

As a native of Southern California, I have the advantage of being exposed to Mexican foods that almost always involve beans. Mexican cooks have long known that cooking beans with the herb epazote adds an unusual and delicious flavor and aids in their digestion (reducing the gas they often cause). I buy fresh epazote in my local Mexican market, then dry the leaves in my dehydrator. You can easily find dried epazote in many herb shops online. Here’s an easy recipe for cooking beans.

Easy Dried Beans

2 cups dried beans

1 Tbsp. dried epazote (optional)

1 Tbsp. dried oregano (optional)

1-3 cloves garlic, sliced, chopped, or minced (optional)

Note: Do not add salt to the beans while cooking. It makes the beans tough.

  • Rinse beans. Place in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Cover with fresh, cold water by about 2 inches. Let soak at least eight hours or overnight.
  • Pour out soaking liquid and rinse beans. Place in a large cooking pot and add herbs and garlic if you’re using them. Cover with about 2 inches of fresh, cold water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cover and cook for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the beans don’t taste done, cook another 20 to 30 minutes or more until the beans are tender. Add more water if needed.
  • When done, serve immediately or let the beans sit in the pot in their cooking liquid to cool for later use. Letting them cool in their cooking liquid keeps the beans from drying out. Before storage, drain some, but not all, of the cooking liquid.

Makes 6-8 servings

My personal favorite time to cook beans is Saturday morning while I am having my coffee and making my grocery list. By the time they are done, I am ready to go shopping, so I let them cool on the stove, in their cooking liquid, until I get home with the groceries. Once home, I pop the covered pot right into the fridge and let the flavors blend. That evening, I pull out the pot of beans and reheat for dinner. Awesome!

We eat a lot of beans at my house. I like to cook up a big batch, keep half for one or two nights of dinners, and freeze the rest in small containers so that I can pull them out when I need them. Beans freeze really well. Just make sure that they are cooled and drained of their cooking liquids first.

Try your beans in black bean soup or epazote black bean chili. There are a lot of great bean recipes at VegCooking.com. I also love to eat beans plain. There is nothing as delicious as a bowl of freshly cooked beans, with maybe a side of brown rice and a big green salad. Have some toppings handy, such as fresh chopped parsley, finishing salt or tamari, chopped black olives, capers, diced tomatoes, or anything that you think might compliment the type of bean you are serving.

I would love to read about some of your fresh-cooked bean recipes and ideas!

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  • Adriane says:

    This probably sounds unbelievable, but epazote grows wild around here (The Woodlands, north of Houston). It is literally a weed, and considered a noxious one because of its strong smell. Luckily the turpentine-like odor changes during the cooking of beans and blends in for an amazing flavor. Maybe I should start drying it and selling it online. LOL

  • Leah says:

    I wonder how this would be with dried fava beans. I got two 16 ounce packages of them, which was overly ambitious of me (I was planning on making lots of ful, a middle eastern vegetarian dish). But now I’m interested in using some of them another way, and this looks like a possibility.

  • Christine says:

    Thanks for your recipe; I’m going to try the oven method soon and will be ordering epozote from Mountain Rose Herbs (4 oz for $4.50!). I do have one comment: I’m shocked you have enough room in your fridge for a dutch oven! I’m going to have to figure out how this is done!!!

  • Joanie says:

    Epazote is easy to grow, although the 4″ pot of it I bought hardly grew when I planted it 12 months ago, Then this May it took off. It can grow fast in rich soil or more slowly in ordinary soil. It can grow in the sun or in partial shade.
    It can reach 3′ wide and 3’high so there is an opportunity to share.

  • Wizodd says:

    There’s no nee to pre-soak beans, and the fastest way to cook them is in a pressure cooker (providing the ATF will let you purchase one…. D ) Remember to never fill the cooker over 1/2 full when cooking beans, and always check your seals and ports before cooking.

    A pressure cooker will save 75% of the cooking time, avoiding the pre-soak means you can start your beans and finish within an hour.

    If your beans don’t get soft enough, try adding a tiny bit of baking soda (1/2 tsp/1b.)

    Usual amount of epozote to add (dry) is about 2Tbsp/lb of dry beans.

    Epazote in large quantities is toxic, and some people cannot stand the flavor or odor.

    As it is medicinal and can be toxic, it is a good idea to avoid problems with small children & pets getting into the stuff.

  • i feed beans to my dogs and have never had a problem

  • Jen-X says:

    This sounds great. I’ve cooked dried beans before, but I’ve never heard of epazote. I look forward to trying it.

  • kerry says:

    I followed the links and read the info and ordered some epazote seeds. I am going to plant a bunch and sneak it into all the bean dishes I serve to my dad and sister. We are all big fans of beans. I get sidetracked easy so I usually cook beans in the slowcooker. They soak all night and then cook all day and I dont have to remember to take them off the burner. in the evening we pull out half the beans and freeze for later, and then turn what’s left in the slowcooker into chili, or burritos or whatever. The slowcooker works great for pinto beans, kidney beans, great northern whites, all of them except for garbanzo beans (chick peas). for some reason garbanzo beans dont seem to soften enough. We feed beans to our dogs, too. The information I read said epazote used to be used in animal feed , so it sounds like it would be ok to feed some to my sister’s dog,too.

  • I made beans this way the other night… not only was it much cheaper than using the canned beans but they tasted so much better! Now I have plenty of extra beans to use throughout the week. Thanks for the tips!

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