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Jan 4, 2007 01:47 AM

dried beans vs canned

What's the difference? Am I missing out on reaching some higher culinary level if I continue to use canned beans?

I'm a vegetarian who's only started to eat beans in the last year or 2, and cook a lot with canned black beans and kidney beans. Should I branch out into dried?

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  1. For the most part, I think canned beans are fine, especially if time is in short supply. I use both, at different times, depending on what I'm making and how much time I have.

    Never have seen canned lentils, but that's not a big issue because they cook really fast.

    1. Canned are high in sodium and dry aren't.

      7 Replies
      1. re: kathleenb

        You can reduce that somewhat by draining and rinsing the beans, though.

        1. re: kathleenb

          Not all of them. I just had a look at my cans of chickpeas, borlottis, cannellini, and red kidney beans, and none of them contains more than trace amounts of sodium.

          1. re: Kagey

            What brand do you have that is low in sodium and where did you buy it? I just checked all my cans and they are high - S&W, Bush's, Glory, Progresso. I do know that rinsing removes some of the sodium.

            1. re: kathleenb

              I use the Eden Organic brand almost exclusively, and the nutritional chart states that there are 15mg of sodium per 15-oz. can. It's a good product too, the beans are never too mushy or tasting of tin. I get mine at Whole Foods. (Off the subject, but the brand also makes a great canned black soybean product that I use in hummus, among other things, and it's a winner.)

              1. re: adroit_minx

                Thanks for the tip - I'll get some!

                1. re: adroit_minx

                  Eden makes great products, but those canned beans are really expensive, yes?

                2. re: kathleenb

                  I live in the UK, and mine are the supermarket brands (Waitrose, Sainsbury's). Not much help to you, I suspect. Sorry!

            2. Dried are much cheaper than canned, and don't carry the sodium load. The only plus for canned is convenience. I keep canned on hand for emergencies, but they're not healthy for regular use.

              12 Replies
              1. re: pikawicca

                Your opinion on the adverse health risk is based on what?

                1. re: theflytyr

                  I don't know about pikawicca's health reason, but for me, I'm trying to avoid canned foods due to concerns about the can's lining material. But I figure I should try to eat foods that are less processed anyways.

                  1. re: theflytyr

                    That's a no-brainer -- sodium content. Dry beans have none. Most canned beans are off the chart. If you think high salt is healthy, go for it.

                    1. re: pikawicca

                      Though some companies are now offering no-sodium canned beans...Bush's comes to mind but ironically, they cost more--ridiculous! And makes more of a case for using dried beans...and those with sodium vary greatly! Some have 500 mgs of sodium, some have 280 mgs.

                      1. re: Val

                        If you drain and rinse the beans, it cuts the sodium dramatically, doesn't it? I think the sodium level is figured with the liquid in the can.
                        Don't most people drain them for use in salads, hummus, etc.? I think the liquid tastes awful, so I pitch it when I have to use canned beans in an emergency.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          Yes, I've read that rinsing does help; but what waste when you think about it...liquid down the drain and a can to recycle or throw away. Better to make your own from dried it seems.

                          1. re: Val

                            I couldn't agree with you more. It makes much more sense to cook a big batch of beans - the way YOU like them - and freeze them in whatever size portions that you prefer for later use.
                            Cook them relatively plain so that you have max flexibility for the future. Just like canned beans.
                            You can easily do this one evening or on a weekend afternoon when you're sitting around watching a movie or something.

                            Beans freeze really well and they defrost easily in the microwave or in fridge while you're at work. Little ziplock bags take up little room.
                            Beans in the freezer are like money in the bank. A much better return than you'll ever get from the stock market.

                            1. re: MakingSense

                              And, I must confess: I've just recently started making beans from their dried form...recently bought a little over 1 pound of dried chickpeas...nice folks on this board talked me through the process of soaking and cooking them...then I made delicious hummus from them plus a few other meals! And I still have some in the freezer!!! How great is THAT??? So, I am a true fan of Goodhealthgourmet's black bean dip (on this board) and today I bought a pound of dried black beans. Trying to be "greener" and "leaner" (I'm somewhat small but am always trying to save money)--so by going the dried bean route, everyone wins.

                              1. re: MakingSense

                                "the way YOU like them" - canned beans are usually one consistency, mushy.
                                Also: If you are adding flavors/spices/dressing - warm beans will better absorb the flavors.

                        2. re: pikawicca

                          salt is not unhealthy if you do not have a condition that contraindicates salt.

                          1. re: thew

                            I believe that the jury is seriously out on that issue.

                            1. re: pikawicca

                              Actually, the jury is in. There is no need to restrict your sodium/salt intake unless you have a medical condition (such as hypertension) which requires it.

                    2. Should I branch out into dried?

                      I did. I learned new cooking techniques, new recipes, and even went somewhere to buy their beans, so I saw new places. I found some beans taste different and beans have different textures.

                      1. Assuming the dried beans aren't old and are cooked properly, they have a better taste and texture than canned. Plus you can flavour them while they're cooking. There are also many wonderful beans -- including heirloom varieties -- that are only available dried. Rancho Gordo's beans, for example, will make a believer out of you.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: carswell

                          Ditto the Rancho Gordo recommendation.

                          1. re: bibi rose

                            Do you know whether they use pesticides? I couldn't find out from the website. (I know plenty of good farms don't go through the hoops to be certified organic but are still free of pesticides). Anyone know?