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Soaking Beans

Hello. I use to soak beans overnight in the refrigerator but also heard that it is better to soak them at room temperature. I don't know the advantages/disadvantages between the two. What are they?

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  1. I always soak them at room temp: the advantage being they don't take up a whole shelf in my refrigerator, which is overflowing as it is.

    7 Replies
    1. re: coll

      I was taught to soak in a bowl on the counter and add a pinch of baking soda when soaking beans for stove top cooking, and always have. I think if you soak them in the fridge they won't soften as nicely. Also, it prevents beans from sprouting or fermenting if that is your goal in soaking like for making a sprout salad or fermenting to make a bean paste dumpling or something.

      1. re: luckyfatima

        Ok so it is ok to soak at room temp. The only beans I don't soak are black beans, I want to preserve the deep color and rich meaty flavor so I just simmer longer.

        1. re: luckyfatima

          According to Mexican cookbook author Rick Bayless, adding baking soda - although it DOES help beans soften faster - can keep your body from absorbing some of the food's protein and vitamins. I don't have any evidence of this obviously, but it's just a thought.

          I always bring my pot of beans to a boil and then turn them off (without taking off the lid) and allow them to soak overnight on the stovetop. They don't ever seem to be hurt by the room temperature, and like Coll, I don't have the fridge space to soak them in there!

          By the way, I recently learned that it is best to discard the bean soaking liquid before, as a lot of the oligosaccharides that tend to cause flatulence/digestive discomfort are concentrated in this soaking liquid. I was surprised to notice a difference when I did this in my last few batches of refried beans!

          1. re: eastvillgirl

            True, though for black beans you don't want to, as you will throw out a bunch of that wonderful color.

            1. re: Louise

              One of the main benefits to soaking beans is to remove all the dirt/ rodent feces/ and other waste product. I would strongly recommend soaking ALL beans to make sure you get all this gone. If you are unsure as to the honesty of htis problem, take a q-tip and alcohol and rub across 3-5 beans to see exactly how dirty these things are! You wouldn't refuse to wash any other fruit or vegetable before eating it- beans are no different- because.

              Always discard the dirty water before cooking- you will have a healthier meal and less gas! You can soak overnight in the refrigerator if you want- it won't hurt anything, but don't soak at room temperature past when the beans get all wrinkly, they might start sprouting!

              1. re: taymee

                Without involving the CSI techs, I wouldn't assume the dirt on dried beans is anything more objectionable than bean dust and earth. Thoroughly rinsing and drainint BEFORE further soaking or direct cooking will clean them if that is your major concern.

                As for the oligosaccharides and the flatulence problems, it is my understanding that the gas is because the sugars in the beans are prevented from digestion in the stomach, and are fermented in the lower intestine. I am guessing that if you are trying to control your blood sugar, you are better off not trying to prevent this process.

                1. re: taymee

                  Good heavens. Where are you buying your beans? I think your standard supermarket bean in the bag is washed.

                  The FDA allows a certain about of ... um ... rodent waste, etc in all foods. Stuff happens. However, I'm guessing the little bag of beans from a supermarket have the same amount of critter parts as corn flakes.

                  Also, what type of beans are you using that would sprout overnight? For the many years when I was soaking beans ... always on the counter .. one never sprouted.

                  I noticed this is your first post. Welcome to Chowhound. Your profine mentions that coffee is your drink of choice ... if made correctly. I hope you will share how you make it on this thread

                  How to make coffee correctly?
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/721519

        2. Beans for the most part don't need soaking. I have abandoned the practice as well as the holding off on salting. For beans that you can cover and forget, bake in the oven instead of doing them on the stove. 90 mins is an average time to cook a lot of different beans. I now salt my beans at the onset of cooking but hold off on any acid which is the culprit in keeping beans from softening. Beans turn out with more flavor if you salt early.

          9 Replies
          1. re: scubadoo97

            My experience with dried beans is a little different. I do prefer to soak them overnight and at room temperate. I also discard the soaking liquid. I have not had great experiences with throwing dried beans into boiling water and going to town. I also find that adding salt at the beginning of the cooking process can cause the beans to lose their shape and thus much of their starch too early in the cooking process for my taste. I like the beans to be starchy, with some of them ruptured but they tend to do this too early if they are cooked in a salty liquid; likewise for un-soaked beans. My experiences are similar to an earlier poster in that I have found acid to also cause the beans to break down too early. Thus, I hold of on the addition of my beloved vinegar until deglazing the aromatics that will be added to the dish.

            So, agree to disagree.

            1. re: frankiii

              Not to be disgusting but I always experience a little gas after ingesting some beans. I dislike soaking black beans because I love the color and I've read that that's where the antioxidants are. I try to use some of the herbs and spices cookbooks claim to reduce gas and ease digestion. Cumin, Tumeric, Chili, Parsley, Oregano... I forgot the other ones. But if soaking my Black Beans eliminates bloating, bubbling and poofing completely then I'll do some experimenting. (Im a new cook).

              1. re: Valgas

                Many people swear by kombu seaweed to aid the digestion of beans. Just add a strip to the batch while cooking. I seem to remember that Eden does that with their canned beans. Have heard the same about adding Epazote.

                I found I did not like the results of adding baking soda - seemed to change the texture of the beans.

                1. re: Valgas

                  As long as you cook the black beans in the water they soak in you should have no loss of colour. However, you will also retain the starch from that water and your beans will have an increased potential causing gas. There's your trade off.

                  1. re: frankiii

                    Salt toughens the skin, which causes them to rip instead of expand while cooking. That's why they break down earlier in the cooking process if you salt at the beginning. Also, the faster the beans absorb water the more likely the skins are to tear, so a fast soak method (hot water or boiling water, then soak) also makes them more likely to break down while cooking as opposed to a slow, room temp soak.

                    1. re: Todlie

                      Salt toughening skin has been proven to be untrue by McGee among others.

                  2. re: scubadoo97

                    I asked this a few weeks back ... and am too lazy too look it up ... but don't soak.

                    I've been basically ... bringing a pot of dry, unsoaked beans to a boil. Simmering about a 1/2 an hour ... draining ... this gets rid of the gassy stuff on the beans ... covering with water ... bringing to a boil again and then simmering (preferabbly slowly) until most of the liquid is absorbed.

                    1. re: rworange

                      By bringing to boil for 1/2 hr you are doing an accelerated soak. The soak helps to gelatinize the starches in the beans.

                  3. I made red beans in the crockpot last week. I got delayed and ended up making the beans 2 days after I started soaking them. So, I ended up changing the water 3 times a day and starting the beans overnight in the crockpot. The beans were not gassy at all. I think the extra soaking did them good, and will probably do the same thing next time I make them.

                      1. re: Valgas

                        You dont need to soak canned beans.

                        1. re: CHEFBUCK

                          Soaking --> Cooking
                          Canned beans --> already cooked

                          1. re: CHEFBUCK

                            Who asked about canned beans :D?

                            1. re: Valgas

                              I thought it would be a quicker idea for you. NO/LESS GAS PROBLEMS. Its a good thing.

                              1. re: CHEFBUCK

                                AH! I misinterpreted, sorry! Well i tried canned black beans but they always taste "off". I guess I need to try different brands. I will take all of your suggestions! thanks again :D!

                        2. In his wonderful cookbook, "Southern Cooking," Craig Claiborne's recipe for Red Beans & Rice starts with this: "Wash the beans carefully and discard the broken ones. Do not, in spite of the instructions, soak them. (The modern bean has been over-processed and needs no soaking)."

                          If it's good enough for Craig Claiborne, it's good enough for me! By the way, his Red Beans & Rice recipe is the best I've ever tasted!

                          If you feel you must soak the beans, try this. Place the beans in a pot, cover generously with water. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn off. Let them sit, covered, for an hour and you're ready to cook them.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: 1stmakearoux

                            I only used that method once with Black beans. While the beans weren't as tender as I would have liked, all the color was there and looked really good.