Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Soaked, (Un) Refried Beans ~ A Simple Recipe

Growing up so close to the Mexican boarder, I thought refried beans were a staple in everyone's home.  We had them in one dish or another almost every day.  Our favorite way to eat them was in the form of what my mom called quesorritos (pictured above): a cross between a bean burrito and a quesadilla.  We loved them.  My kids categorize them as a comfort food now, too.  Add a dollop of creme fraiche and your favorite salsa and/or some guacamole on top and you've got yourself a pretty tasty meal, I tell you.

Making your own refried beans (consequently, this recipe never fries the beans) is too simple for words.  So skip the phytic acid-layden, BPA-contaminated, bad-salt-filled, canned beans and make a batch of these.  Besides the many health benefits and superior flavor, making your own is so much cheaper.  Also, they freeze well, so why not stock up?

Soaked, Refried Beans
Yields 4 quarts

4 cups dried black or pinto beans
Warm, filtered water
4 Tablespoons whey or lemon juice
1 onion, chopped
1 sweet pepper (like bell), chopped
1 jalapeno or Anaheim chili, chopped, or several drops tabasco sauce (optional)
3 cloves garlic, seeded & minced
1 1/2 Tablespoon Celtic sea salt
  • Place beans in a large bowl.  Add whey or lemon juice and fill with filtered water.  The beans will greatly expand, so be sure to use plenty of water.  Stir, cover, and let soak 12-24 hours.

  1. When you're ready to make the refried beans, the beans should be nice and plump, some of them splitting apart, from soaking.  Goodbye phytic acid, hello, phtase, the happy enzyme that helps us digest and absorb the nutrients!  Drain and thoroughly rinse the beans.  Place them in a large pot and add filtered water; just enough to cover the top of the beans.  You can always add water if needed, but too much water will give you soupy beans.
  2. Place lid over beans and bring to a boil.  Remove lid and skim off any foam.  Now, you can either saute onions, pepper, & chili in some butter or oil (it will yield a yummier flavor), or just add the onions, pepper, and chili straight into the beans if you're short on time (like I usually am 90% of the time). 
  3. Stir, cover, and simmer for 2-4 hours.  You'll know the beans are ready when they start to fall apart (as seen in picture number three, below).
  4. If there is still too much water, you can skim some off.  Add garlic and salt.  Then, either use a potato masher or a hand-held blender to turn them into refried beans.  I store them in wide-mouthed, quart-sized mason jars and use these handy dandy lids.  Be sure not to over-fill the jars if you plan to freeze them.  I've done this... more than once, and you'll end up with a cracked jar.
** NOTE:  Charis reminded me that you can easily make these in the crock pot (thanks, Charis!).  I do recommend to start the beans in a pot so you can bring it to a boil and skim off the foam, but you can definitely finish them off in the slow cooker.


  1. i make un-refried beans all the time! a staple of my childhood that has followed me forever! i don't usually put whey in when soaking, but i will have to try it. i usually just soak and then gently sprout them... i also cheat and use a crockpot to cook so that i can leave and come home to dinner! yum.

    my recent post: the rooster formally known as susan -or- letting go of false expectations

  2. Can't wait to try these and I just picked up some dried pinto beans yesterday at the store! Good timing!Thank you as well for my birthday wishes :-)!


  3. Charis, thanks for that reminder! I meant to include the slow cooker option but totally spaced. I just added that to the post.

    Ashley, I hope you enjoy these! Also, I thing we should share family farming notes, though I think I'd benefit more than you. :)

  4. Great pictures! :)

    Did you know that the pint size or half pint size mason jars are the only ones truly "freezer safe"? I learned that the hard way. :(

  5. Yikes! That's good to know, Allie! Mine have held up ok over the years, I just have to be REALLY intentional about leaving enough room on top. :)

  6. This is SO timely!! I cooked up a 3lb bag of black beans on Thursday and we've yet to get back to the leftovers due to scheduling conflicts at mealtime. My kids love refried beans spread on their quesadillas but I refuse to buy the cans of that stuff because of the sodium levels. They will love me for this!! I seasoned my beans with red pepper flakes(just a sprinkle), cumin, Mexican oregano, garlic and onion powders, grey salt, and a dash of liquid smoke so they'll make a super tasty refried version!

    Thanks for the inspiration!


  7. This is great! So easy & I KNOW they are delish. Thanks!

  8. Found this on Real Food Wednesday. They look delicious! I love putting beans in quesadillas, too! Check out my post for RFW at my blog! :)

  9. This looks very tasty!

    Hoppping by.

    Olah Momma! (http://olahmomma.com)

  10. Okay, my family is Mexican and beans are supposed to be the second most judged culinary effort next to flour tortillas. I cringed when I saw this, but these look good. I often take the stick blender to mine right in the pot after I have taken off some of the bean water. Good job!

  11. What you are making is "frijoles de olla" (pot beans) ... it's the precursor to "frijoles refritos" (well-fried beans). You can mash them to be as thick or as soupy as you want.

    If you dump them into a skillet with some lard and cook and stir them as you mash them you will end up with "frijoles refritos" ... and a cholesterol count of eleventy hundred.

  12. Ah! It's so good to know the real name of these beans! Thank you!

  13. I love this!! My former MIL is Salvadoran and she taught me how to do this years ago. Usually when I blend them though I'll put tomato, raw onion, peppers, garlic etc. and then the veggies cook when I re-fry them. My kids love them in quesadillas, on toast, plain, whatever. I think I'll try adding the veggies while they cook and not re-frying them and save a step. Thanks for sharing;)

  14. Okay, I just have to say that I didn't follow the recipe EXACTLY (I never do) but I followed the general guidelines and these were delicious! My gourmet-food-loving food-snob brother actually said these were probably the best refried beans he's ever had (and that is one of two times I can remember him complementing my cooking). So that's saying something! My initial attempt turned out much more soupy than I hoped (which doesn't bother me, but my hubby prefers them a little thicker), so I just left the heat on very low for about an hour or two and let some liquid evaporate out, and they were perfect! Not too thick like the nasty canned stuff, but thick enough to make delicious burritos and "quesorittos" with (those were yummy - thanks for the suggestion!).

  15. This is awesome! And I'm the same way; recipes are a suggestion, never an end-all. :) I'm so glad you liked them.

  16. Could you give me a guess at how long this will keep in the freezer? I'm very excited to try these! Thanks for a great recipe.

  17. I'm making this in the crockpot right now. I used bone broth instead of water; I can't wait to taste it! Love your blog.

  18. Is it ok to cover these with a lid instead of a towel? Or is there a specific reason for the towel? Thanks :)


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