It is a rainy day here, so I will be cleaning, shopping and cooking. In one of my recent posts, Santa Fe Rice and Beans, I mentioned that I make rice in large batches and freeze it and I make my own beans.
The idea of freezing cooked rice came from my sister-in-law. She informed me that any kind of rice freezes well! If you like sticky rice, prepare it and freeze it and it will be sticky when you thaw it. If you prefer fluffy rice, the same holds true. I was raised eating long grain rice, Uncle Ben's to be precise. My mother would cook it for 10-15 minutes, rinse it under cold water and then place it in a double boiler to "steam" the rice. This method produces light, non-starchy rice that isn't a bit mushy. In today's world of the microwave, I find I can produce the same rice by cooking 10-15 minutes and rinsing but then placing in the microwave on 50% power for 5-10 minutes to steam out the excess moisture. When using whole grain rice, the length of cooking is 20-30 minutes, depending on the rice.
I make and freeze rice in 2-3 cup packages. This seems to be the right amount for most recipes. Sometimes I make 100% whole grain or brown rice, other times I make 50% white, 50% brown. When I make a batch of rice for the freezer, I cook, drain and rinse the rice before I freeze it. I complete the "steaming" when I take the rice out of the freezer, if it still too wet. Sometimes the steaming isn't necessary, especially if using in a casserole or salad.
Now for beans. I usually cook my own pinto and black beans. While many of you probably think this isn't worth the time, since it doesn't save a lot of money, I find the beans more flavorful than their canned counterpart. I do keep canned beans on hand, but I do try to have beans in my freezer.
I rinse and soak my beans overnight. I drain the beans and then cook them for about an hour, until they are tender. When they are finished cooking, I stir in 2-3 tablespoons of white vinegar. To be honest, I don't remember where I learned to do this, but it helps to create a mild brine for the beans to live in in the freezer. I freeze the beans in 2 cup portions, the same amount as a 16 ounce can. Money wise, I probably get an extra can of beans for the price(the equivalent of 4 cans for the price of 3).