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How To Cook Beans and Save Money

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Have you often wondered how to cook beans? I’m talking about white, pinto, black, kidney, and garbanzo beans. There are so many varieties, and I’ll talk about these today. We could eat beans literally every day. I love bean burritos plain without any cheese served on a flour tortilla. I also buy cans of beans, every kind of bean.

We buy vegetarian pinto refried beans by the case as well. I wrote a post a few months ago about how to cook beans in four different ways. There is a link below in case you missed it. The reason I’m writing this post today is that I posted something on my Food Storage Moms FaceBook page about “throw an extra can of beans in your grocery cart this week.” It’s called food storage. I hope this updated post helps a family or two.

How To Cook Beans and Save Money

How To Cook Beans and Save Money

Well, I received comments that some people stockpile these beans and have no idea how to cook them. I had to remind myself that Mark and I grew up dirt poor. Although we didn’t know what the word poor really meant until years later. We both grew up on beans. I began to wonder, am I the only one in the neighborhood besides my friend Lyn A. who knows how to cook beans from scratch? This scares me, I mean it really concerns me.

Like-Minded Neighborhood

Do you remember me asking you how we all need to live in a like-minded neighborhood, this is one example.

I went to a luncheon in the neighborhood last week, and of course, I just had to ask the question: “Does anyone at this table know how to cook beans, you know out of a bag, not a can?” The group was caught off guard, most said they don’t eat beans. My thought at the time WHAT??? Am I the only one at the table that can cook and eat beans? It’s okay, I get it. I just don’t understand why they don’t know how to cook beans. I sure hope they know how to cook rice because I picture all of us eating a lot of beans and rice after a major disaster. Yes, we will have one, I promise.

My Girls Grew Up On Beans

I taught my daughters how to soak dry pinto beans. Yes, I bought them in 50-pound bags. Please note, we didn’t cook all 50 pounds at once. We picked through the beans looking for rocks or small chunks of dirt. We used a huge pan, my canning pan. Yep, I missed a chunk of dirt once in the beans, and my daughter, Heidi wouldn’t eat our homemade refried beans for years. Yes, years. This is the water bath canning pan I used. When you have six in your family you learn to save money on groceries, right? Ball Water Bath Canner

Cans Of Beans Are Awesome

Now, I buy canned beans in a case or small bags of dried beans. I do have several cases of beans in #10 cans (7 inches tall and 6-1/4 inches in diameter). Some are instant beans that cook for 20 minutes with water, and I have some regular non-instant pinto and black beans. The cooking time could be slightly different depending on the altitude of where you live. Please check your #10 cans, I had to send some back to Thrive Life once because they were not “Instant Beans,” they were labeled incorrectly. When I called them a few years ago they quickly replaced them.

Read More of My Articles  Friendship Soup Mix In A Jar

The reason I wanted a few cases of instant pinto beans is that they would use less fuel, use less water, and cook faster.

Please remember, the older the beans, the longer they will take to cook. A pressure cooker is great to use for those old beans. If they need more cooking, reset the pressure cooker for a few more minutes and cook them longer. My favorite pressure cooker is Zavor Pressure Cooker (this brand used to be Fagor, my favorite one). Just FYI, I prefer a Zavor over an Instant Pot. They are made stronger than the Instant Pot, my entire family owns Fagor (now called Zavor). The employees bought out the company and kept it going.

How To Cook Beans

I also fill 5-gallon buckets with all sorts of beans. Pinto, white, and black beans are my favorite varieties.

I’m talking about bags of dried beans right now and cooking them on the stove. A small batch is one cup of beans to 3 cups of water. You can make larger batches by increasing the cups of dry beans and the cups of water in the same proportions.

Open the bags and spread the beans out to check for rocks and small chunks of dirt.

Rinse the beans.

Soak the beans overnight covered with water at least 3 inches above the beans. I’ve found this works best for my style of cooking beans rather than trying a quick soak. Some people will try a hot soak, but having them covered in water all night seems to do the trick.

I drain the beans the next morning and cover them with fresh water at least 3 inches above the beans, adding water as needed.

Bring the beans to a boil and then let them simmer all day or until tender.

Add your favorite items as flavorings and simmer for about an hour with your favorite add-ons. I like to add chopped onions, chili peppers, cumin, chopped cloves of garlic, and chopped cilantro.

Cook Beans That Are Old

If your beans are really old, try pressure cooking them for 60-80 minutes on high. It may take more minutes depending on how old they are. Tip from Cheryl: “One thing you need to do to keep the gas away, is to soak overnight, then drain and add fresh water. Bring to a boil on the stove, drain, and rinse. As you do this you will see the gas come to the surface. Repeat the process until no more or very little foam is seen. Drain one last time and add salt and continue cooking until done. Never add tomato products until then. I have taught many to use beans in ways they didn’t know were possible. Excellent source of protein and vitamins. Also, never add baking soda to the beans. It kills the B vitamins. Enjoy!”

As mentioned above, the ratio for cooking beans is 1 part beans to 3 parts water. You lock the lid in place and turn it to “Beans/Chili,” then push the high pressure. The time comes up for 30 minutes, but my beans didn’t get cooked in the 30 minutes, but my beans are two years old. They may cook in 30 minutes if you have a fresh bag of beans, but these two-year-old beans were not fully cooked within that suggested time. Next time, I’ll push 50-60 minutes. I used the natural release to release pressure in the cooker after cooking was complete.

Read More of My Articles  4 Easy Ways To Cook Beans

Release on pressure cookers:

Here are two ways to release the pressure, be sure and use a hot pad or washcloth or you’ll get burned from the steam. Be sure and read the instructions for YOUR brand. Some recommend you DON’T USE a rag.

1. Natural Method:

After cooking, you’ll press the START/STOP button to stop the cooking process. Unplug the unit and wait for the pressure to naturally release….approximately 20-30 minutes. After this time, move the pressure regulator to the vent to make sure all the pressure has been released.

2. Quick Release Method:

After cooking, press the START/STOP button to make sure the unit is completely turned off. Turn the pressure regulator to the vent and allow the pressure to release. Caution! Keep hands and face away from the escaping steam as it is extremely hot and can cause injury. I use a washcloth to cover the release vent when turning it to help me from getting burned by the very hot steam.

Pinto Beans

Soak and cook the beans as instructed above. These are my favorite, I use a potato masher to make my own refried beans. I use these seasonings: add your favorite items and simmer for about an hour with your add-ons, I like to add chopped onions, chili pepper, cumin, chopped cloves of garlic, and chopped cilantro. Some cooks like to add a bay leaf or some parsley. The family likes to add cheddar cheese with the refried beans when we make our Mexican meals, they’re delicious together.

cook beans

Black Beans

Soak and cook the beans as instructed above. I use these seasonings as shown above: Add your favorite items and simmer for about an hour with your favorite add-ons, I like to add chopped onions, chili pepper, cumin, chopped cloves of garlic, and chopped cilantro (similar to pinto beans).

cook beans

White Beans

Soak and cook the beans as instructed above. I love white beans because all I have to do is add some dehydrated carrots, onions, celery, and a ham hock. Life is good when you cook with a hot bowl of ham and beans for an awesome variety of bean-based soups. Note that there is a smaller version of white beans called navy beans that taste great too.

cook beans

Kidney Beans – Often Referred to as Red Kidney Beans

Soak and cook the beans as instructed above. I love to make these and eat them cold on a salad or add ingredients to make a chili with chopped onions, bell peppers, carrots, and some celery. I try to add a few green chilies when Mark isn’t looking. Not really, but I add more to mine after the chili is cooked. Add a dollop of sour cream with some grated cheese, life is good.

cook beans

Garbanzo Beans – Also Known as Chickpeas

Soak and cook the beans as instructed above. I use these in chili as well, but I love the beans cold on salads too. I also make yummy hummus with them. Here is my hummus recipe: How To Make Hummus by Food Storage Moms

cook beans

More Beans Recipes

Final Word

I hope you take the time to cook beans from a bag, but also buy beans readymade in cans and serve them with rice or as a side dish. We must learn to cook from scratch and teach this generation how much money they will save on their groceries if they learn to use beans as they plan several meals each week. Takeout is not an option after a disaster hits, the restaurants will be closed and the stores will be empty, trust me, life will not be as it is today.

Thanks again for being prepared for the unexpected, one can at a time is all it takes. If you haven’t already, start NOW to build up your food storage stash, and beans are a great way to start. May God bless this world. Linda

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44 Comments

  1. I love beans, too!! Once I had a very long commute and I would take a can of kidney beans (rinsed and in a different container) to eat as breakfast on the drive in. I love the texture and they’re a little sweet, at least I think so. My favorite canned brand is S&W that I buy on sale by the case, but folks should read the labels for differences even among the different types of the same brand and find what they like to eat. FYI – I made pork chili with beans yesterday and added a cup of pumpkin puree. Also a nutritious addition that adds a creaminess and slight sweetness that plays well with spices. My sweetie grew an accidental pumpkin patch that he let go because he wanted roasted pumpkin seeds. Not to be wasteful, I have to roast the pumpkins and freeze the puree so I’m on the look out for different ways to use it. I’m going to try dehydrating a batch of puree, then process it into a powder to be added to dishes like the chili, made into soup, or in place of butter to create a nice finish to sauces and gravies. Good addition to emergency meals, too. Off the topic of beans. I’m with you on the need to learn to cook from scratch and with beans. Let’s make it an upscale trend so lots of folks will want to try them!

    1. Oh, Debbie, I love your comments! I need to try the pumpkin puree idea. I love your last statement, “Let’s make it an upscale trend so lots of folks will want to try them!” I love this! Linda

      1. One year a long time ago, about 30 years, My son was the last at home all the others were grown and on their own, but I would invite 2 or 3 people that had no one to have Thanksgiving dinner with and I would cook up a big turkey and all the goodies, but ran out of cash before thinking desert.. so I simmered up some pinto beans, no flavoring and they finally turned to mush. then whipped them up with pumpkin spice and some maple syrup and a couple of eggs, the eggs cooked into the puree and then filled pretty desert dishes with it, at dinner time I put whipped creme on the top and the fellows enjoyed pumpkin pudding The fellows, all older and without anyone but each other knew of others that were alone so we stacked paper trays full of goodies for them to drop off on their way home.. Pinto beans can be made into chocolate pudding or just about anything you wish as the beans themselves have little flavor… Amazing what we can do when broke…
        i believe there are books on making pinto beans into delicious meals…

        1. Hi, Jeanne, oh my goodness, I need to go to the thrift store and watch for a book to make recipes with just beans. I love your idea of inviting others for Thanksgiving. No one wants to be alone on the holidays. I love the pumpkin pudding, add some whipped cream and it’s a dream come true. Happy Saturday my friend, hugs, Linda

          1. i just checked and on the internet under pinto deserts there are lots of tasty recipes.even pinto bean chocolate brownies… now I am getting hungry too, and I am sure the milder sweeter beans could be used this way too.
            Best recipes are sometimes out of need just finding it on the shelf instead of paying more at the market..always trying to save a buck and eat what I have here, live weil on little because I squeeze every penny and keep the bills paid too…. Love this site, you are so down to earth with good ideas coming to you .

  2. Once again I’m going to suggest you try Anasazi Beans. They are delicious! A bit too sweet for chili, unless you like sweet chili, but great in ham and bean soup, or with cornbread. I haven’t tried mashing them into refried beans for use in burritos yet but I can’t imagine they would be anything but great. I have GOT to try them in burritos.

    1. Hi Raymond, I’m on it! I Have got to try those beans!!! Wow, cornbread sounds really good now. My mouth is watering for a good pot of chili! I love your comments, you’re a great friend! Linda P.S. I am looking today for some Anasazi beans!!!

  3. I grew up on big pots of the little red beans cooked with a ham hock and some chile seasoning, Mom would let them set in a pan of water all night after we went thru them and picked out the tiny stones and dirt.. then she would cook them all the next day until tender… Update… now with my electric pressure cooker, How did we ever live without one.. Well I wash the beans, put one lb in the pot. a ham hock, a teaspoon or more of chile powder and about 4 cups of water, turn that pot on and in a half hour have a delicious pot of beans.. just butter the bread and start enjoying… I could live with just the delicious juice. moped up on bread and butter, my mouth watering as I type..I keep the beans on hand in the pantry as I never know when that craving for beans will hit. Keep a few ham hocks in the freezer for such an occasion..

  4. In your recipies, I think you mean cloves of garlic, chopped and not chopped cloves, the spice.
    Here on the East Coast, I grew up with Boston baked beans, navy beans cooked with salt pork,
    Dried mustard, an onion and molasses.  It was a typical Saturday night supper.  Mum made the 
    Best and sometimes she would make Boston Brown bread to go with the bean so it is a type of bread cooked in a steamer.  You set the bread pan in a few inches of water in a pot like you would
    Use for canning. Yumm

    1. Oh, Stephanie, you are so nice, thank you for letting me know that it is cloves garlic!!! I remember my mom baking Boston baked beans. I do not have that recipe. Your comment will help me try to duplicate her recipe with navy beans, salt pork, dried mustard, onion, and molasses. Thank you for letting me know my typo and sharing your Boston bean recipe. I love it!!! Linda

  5. Ham hocks are so expensive so I try to grab up hams during the holidays when they are under a $1 a lb and have the meat cut off and save the bones for flavoring, the marrow in the bones is where the flavor is.. along with stockpiling I watch for bargains. a few good ham steaks and the rest cut up into cubes for addition to mac and cheese and split peas soup to name a few.. Oh now ya got me hungry for a pot of mac,cheese and ham..

  6. A way to save money and rotate your stock of dry beans is to can a few jars at a time through the year. That way they are equally convenient as store bought canned ones but less expensive. I wouldn’t do 25 lbs. at a time unless you have a really large family. I usually can 5-7 pints at a time and when they are used I can some more. Also for cooking beans, if (after soaking and rinsing them) you cook them in distilled water they tend to cook a little faster.

    1. Hi, JoEllen, distilled water? That’s an awesome tip! You are right we could can a few cans of beans and when those are gone, we could can a few more. I love this tip! Linda

  7. “Please note, we did not cook all 50-pounds at once.”
    That line made me laugh out loud. A lot.
    I can’t even imagine how big the pot would have to be to cook 50 lbs at a time, or how many people it’d take to eat them all.

    Cooked beans freeze and reheat amazingly well too 😀

    1. Hi, K, LOL! I love your comment! I was afraid people might think we cooked that many beans at one time!! I have never frozen beans, I’m going to do that, thank you for that great comment! I love learning new things, Linda

  8. I have been eating them for years. First of all, the kidney beans come in large and small and either pink or red. The red have a more robust flavor while the pink are just a bit milder. The same for black and white beans. Depends on the brand you buy. White have the lightest flavor. The size makes no difference in taste.
    Despite “experts” claiming that Puerto Ricans traditionally choose to eat black beans they eat a lot or pink or red as well as garbanzo (Put into pasteles) and gondules or chick peas. They use them in making yellow rice. The garbanzo and gandules are different from the other beans. My family has been eating the red and pink cooked from scratch and from cans since I was a kid. But we can buy whatever we want nowadays.

    When I cook beans, I always add a little tomato sauce or ketchup. I don’t add the ham or fat chuncks as they are very salty. You can add bits of potato and/or calabasa (Type of pumpkin) and a bit of sofrito or dice up a bit of green pepper and onion. Carrots are good too. You can also toss in a bit of turkey bacon or the real deal or as I do, I take a little bit of ground beef and mix that in.

    I cook for my dogs and I just mix (red, pink or black) beans into ground turkey or ground beef and I often have left over so I just squirt ketchup, season with Sazon (Adobo is salty) or onion and garlic powder and I chow them down or dump into a flour tortilla. They’re easy to fix. The ONLY kind of beans I have not tried are soybeans. I’d love to make soybean burgers at home. My older brother dislikes beans, but he likes soybean burgers. Be a nice alternative when beef is not available.

    1. Hi, Frank, I think this is why I keep mentioning beans because the price of meat keeps going up and up. The families that grow their own is awesome. I’m too old to do that these days. I have never tried soybeans either. Thanks for tips on the different colored beans. I love learning new ideas! Linda

  9. Hey, Linda!  Just before reading this article, I was on Pinterest.  Saw a recipe and downloaded it.  It’s for pressure cooker Senate Bean soup.  I have had this soup “in real life” when one of my daughters lived in Maryland and took me into DC to see the sights–we ate in the Senate cafeteria.  This soup is amazing!  See if you can do a search on Pinterest for it and try it.  Love your articles–especially this one on beans.  My mom taught me to cook with beans.  Now I am hungry for some bean soup and bread to sop up the juice!!

    1. Oh, Joanne, I have got to find that recipe. I’m on it. Did I tell you I ordered the ten pack of “The Biffy Bag” it looks great to use the bathroom in the car or at least outside the car or in the woods. I bought it on Amazon. It’s small package I’m putting in my emergency bags ASAP. That was a great tip, not sure the Japanese use this brand, but it looks awesome. Linda

  10. I grew up on bean soup and corn bread.Vegetable soup and corn bread and chili and corn bread. Those were the days!Didn’t know we were poor, just well fed.

    1. Oh Bebe, I forgot I use to make a big pot of vegetable soup and freeze it in quarts with enough space at the top for expansion. We had vegetable soup all the time. Linda

  11. I love beans, too. I recall the first time I was totally on my own and I wanted to make navy bean soup with ham. I set the beans to soak that night and went to bed. When I got up the next morning, I had a terrible shock! There were tiny worms in my bean water. I was totally stunned as I didn’t recall anything like that happening when I was cooking with Mom. So, I called Mom and asked her if she had ever had that happen to her. She laughed so hard she was crying! She explained that if the beans are really fresh, they will start to sprout overnight sitting in the water. Well, I did live in an area that grew a lot of beans and that is exactly what I had – fresh dried beans. So, if you see little worm-like things in your bean water, just know that they are not worms but the sprouts from the beans.

    I live alone so all my bean “cooking” comes from a can. But, I do know how to cook beans from scratch!

    1. Leanne, this is the best story ever! I have never seen the beans sprout in a pot. I have the giggles just thinking about it. This is a tip we all need for sure. Love it! Linda

  12. So, can you eat the beans with the sprouts? I’m a city girl land know how to cook beans from scratch, but hate to waste food! ! ! I also add a tablespoon of baking soda to my pinto beans to avoid the “after effects” of enjoying them:)

  13. I cook beans all the time. Sometimes, though, I’ll soak them and then put them directly into my canning jars. I fill about half way, then add water and a tsp of salt. I can them in pint jars right in my instant pot. Someone told me that wasn’t safe, but I only do a few jars for 90 minutes and we eat them pretty fast. Great way to have them ready for chili and you don’t have the tinny taste from the cans.

    1. Hi, my twin from another mother, Joyce!! I miss you. That’s a great tip, yes they are not meant for pressure canning but if you put them in the frig for a short time. It’s not safe for longterm pressure canning but like you said you eat them quickly. I LOVE beans. Hugs, Linda

  14. during WW2, I was young but remember the way things appeared on the table, always pretty, never dull. Mother was great at serving what ever we could get with the ration coupons, a half pound of hamburger or horse meat made into a thick white gravy and simmered til the flavor of the meat was there, over fresh out of the oven bread made a healthy meal, We ate a lot of corn meal mush, breakfast with a bit of milk, lunch was fried mush with corn in it, good with a dab of butter and a little corn syrup and dinner was when she added a bit of cooked meat to it. let it firm up and she sliced it like bread and lightly fried it… Difference between horse meat and beef was the horse meat was tough and stringy even when ground.. but it was meat…The butchers would sell what they could find, We had a little victory garden and reaped a lot of nice fresh veggies from it, and Dad let me have chickens if I made the first cage, then he made a great one all painted up with shingles and folks actually walked all the way up onto the property to see if it was an apartment for rent.. the little green shutters on the white chicken house did look like a little home.. I still love my back yard chickens, just collared 2 banty roosters, what a job, little stinkers will act like I was killing them and they start crowing again.. They will throw a fit when you put a collar on them, one thru himself back on his butt, kicked his feet and was so mad at me… but if they crow the neighbors could complain.. can’t have that

    1. Jeanne, oh my gosh, I love this story, I can actually picture the chicken coup you built with shingles sitting on the porch. I must say the horse meat does not sound good. I could easily be a vegetarian as long as I can have brownies as a side dish just kidding! Mark is fixing some chicken right now and I said I’m going to eat the last brownie with my salad. LOL! I have never raised chickens, but I know a few people who have starter chickens like just 3 or 4 to try and gather eggs. But they are teaching themselves to be self-reliant. I love it! Have a great Sunday, Linda

  15. Linda, I was reading one of your bean blogs, and somewhere I read about Ajwain seeds.  I can’t find that article again, but I bought some and was wondering now what they were for and how to use them?  Thank you

  16. I know how to use beans in everything from bread to fudge and everything in between. One thing you need to do to keep the gas away, is to soak over night , then drain and all fresh water. Bring to a boil on the stove, drain and rinse. As you do this you will see the gas come to the surface. Repeat the process until no more or very little foam is seen. Drain one last time and add salt and continue cooking until done. Never add tomato products until then. I have taught many to use beans in ways they didn’t know was possible.Excellent source of protein and vitamins . Also , never add baking soda to the beans. It kills the B-vitamins. Enjoy!

  17. I used to keep a supply of various canned beans for quick additions to meals. I still do, but now I use pint jars (1-2 servings) and pressure can them. I don’t pre-soak. It takes a scant 1/2 cup (of pintos) per pint and fill with seasoned liquid leaving 1 inch headspace. Process pints for 75 min at a pressure appropriate for your altitude. These can quickly convert to “refried” beans using an emulsifier. The seasoned liquid? saute onion, jalapeno, green chiles, minced garlic; add cumin, Mexican oregano, splash of ACV, and chicken broth. (I don’t add salt because the broth is salty enough). The broth (rather than water) is a game-changer. I freeze any left-over liquid in ice trays so I can add more liquid if needed to beans while warming them for use.
    If you’re not a ‘canner,’ you’re probably wondering, “Why?” I like my own seasonings, I can fix a big batch at one time (and open only what I need for a serving), it’s convenient, AND I can pronounce everything that’s in them. 🙂

  18. HI LINDA:

    We make beans a lot in the winter for Chilli but in the summer if we want beans it’s caned beans or my sour beans which is a mix of green and wax beans.
    But when I make dried beans my husband makes them. He will put them in a large pressure cooker and cook them for about until done. That is the only way we will be able to use the 200-300 pounds of dried beans we have accumulated in the past 24 years and every time I think that we are witting down the amount of beans we have the food bank gives us another 25-50# of beans, Now we do share them but most of the people we know use the food bank and get their fill of beans also. I am going to try and can them so it is easier to use.

    1. Hi Jackie, that’s good to hear the food bank has beans, I hope people know how to cook them. I sure hope people are learning to cook rice and beans, those days are coming sooner than we may think. I grew up eating rice and beans, I call my self an expert on making those two items!! LOL! Linda

  19. Also, cooked beans can be used to replace cooking oil or butter in recipes. For more info. see the book Store This Not That by Chrystal Godfrey and Debbie Kent. Lots of great material.

  20. I’d like to hear more about your pressure cooker and maybe you could do an article about water bath canning because it’s been practiced as long or longer than pressure canning and besides jelly the method provides us with yet another way to create a few more foods to add to our pantry and give us more variety.

    By the way, people have all these different recipes, but I have found that if I have some onion and garlic powder (For me this is my basic lineup along with a few other spices) and tomato sauce, the beans will taste good. But if you have some meat, bacon, callabasa, pumpkin, green peppers, garlic, some cilantro as you mentioned or chopped up potato then by all means toss it in.

    Personally, I’d repack any beans because I once tried cooking some really old beans in their original bags and they never cooked fully. And I did not (still don’t) have a pressure canner. I recall that many people would fill soda bottles to the top, sometimes they stuffed in an oxygen absorber and that’s how they stored their beans as well as white rice, but I don’t recall anyone cooking them later on.

    1. Hi Frank, I would try a pressure cooker with your beans if you can’t find a reasonable price on a pressure canner. I have a Water Bath Canner, a Ball Electric Water Bath Canner, and an All American Pressure Canner. All of my “supplies” are in a storage unit with a controlled temperature. We moved here in October 2021 to build a home. It took 1-1/2 years just to get the permit to start. Have a I had a few meltdowns, oh yes sir, I have. We have the foundation, gas and electric lines as well as plumbing, A/C and furnace parts installed. We have a great builder but the city has many many rules we had to jump through. Many. It will not be done until January or February if we are lucky. Once I can get into my home I will share how to can, water and pressure. M

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