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I let my dried beans soak too long. Are they fermented now? How bad would that be, anyway?

Okay, so I had great plans to save money by soaking and cooking my own beans. I put them in to soak, and then got super-busy and kept putting off cooking them. It has now been two days of soaking in our cool house, on the counter. Little bubbles are starting to rise from the beans, and they smell pleasantly yeasty (or something). I'm pretty much resigned to just composting them now, but I wondered if anyone had experience or knowledge about cooking possibly fermented beans. I'm tempted to do it just to find out what would happen.

Anyone know why it's supposed to be bad?

Anyone done it anyway?

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  1. That's so funny. I did the same thing this week and was going to post the same question. I gave up and threw mine out last night, but I'm interested to see if anyone has any wisdom on this.

    1. In the cookbook "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon, she recommends letting the beans soak until they sprout just a little. We've done it. Yes, it gets bubbly. You're supposed to change the water every day. I would rinse them, and cover with fresh water, and cook soon. It will be fine. The key for me in your post was that it still smells pleasant. Your nose can tell when they've gone south. This method helps get rid of the phytic acid, which blocks the absorption of some nutrients, so they're arguably better for you this way.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JGrey

        Yes, plant phytates block uptake of iron and zinc. They will have leached into the soak water: throw the water out and out go the phytates. You're probably not an anemic infant, however, so that really doesn't matter.

      2. In my experience, the yeastiness permeates the beans. Depending on your tastes, you might not find that a bad thing. I personally didn't like it so I threw it out. Since it's mainly the liquid that carries that flavor, you might want to try throwing out the soaking liquid (which many people do anyway), rinse, add fresh water, and see what happens.

        From a food safety standpoint, it doesn't seem to be much of a concern. ( I guess when you think about how many fermented products we eat, it's not a surprise :)

        1. Thanks for all the feedback. I did go ahead and cook them in fresh water last night, after rinsing them really well. I think we'll have them for dinner tonight and then monitor ourselves for interesting side effects...

          I'll let you know.

          1. Sketchy Bean Report:
            We ate delicious burritos for two days, and we're still fine. Maybe a little gassy, but that's not unusual, and not necessarily the beans. I forgot to taste the plain beans before I mixed them with spicy stuff, so I don't know if there was an off flavor.

            I wouldn't be shocked if I ended up repeating this "experiment", and if I do, I'll keep up the information gathering and reporting.

            Scatterbrains for science, unite!