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Dried beans ready to be soaked. [Photo: Jenny Lee-Adrian]

Okay, dried beans aren't "in season"—they're always available and always the same. But this is really the season for them. As the winter months drag on, I just want to curl up on a couch with a bowl of chili that's filled with a lot of beans—not beans that come out of a can, but beans that were soaked overnight. Dried beans are best when we're hibernating. The beans swell and swell and swell as they stay submerged in water, and then they become soft after they're cooked.

Beans are planted in the spring and harvested in the fall through early winter, depending on the location. The legumes are available from storage for the rest of the year. Use dried beans in chili, cassoulet, baked beans, soups and spreads.

Dried Bean Recipes

What are your favorite uses for dried beans?

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