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How long should you soak black beans?

I have some dried Alubia Negra beans and I want to use them for dinner tomorrow night. First, how long should I soak them? Is it possible to over-soak them? Second, how long should I cook them after they have soaked? Thanks!

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  1. We put ours in to soak the morning (before we leave for work) of the day we want to cook them for supper. They'll expand as they soak, so cover them with soak water and then add some more. Also pour off the soak water and add new before you cook them. We have a pressure cooker, so presoaked ones take only 3-6 minutes at high pressure with natural pressure release. If you use a regular pan they take longer...but I don't know how long. I used to presoak and then partially cook them and put them in serving size or meal size containers in the freezer and just add them when I was making millet or rice to cook them the rest of the way.

    1. I pre-soak all beans by covering them with 2" of water and boiling for 5 minutes, then putting on the lid and turning off the heat and letting them sit for an hour. After that, I drain them, add new water, and cook in a regular pot (i.e., not a pressure cooker). Depending on the type of beans, they'll take 45 min - an hour to fully cook.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Erika L

        I use this method as it helps "degas" the beans! Then I cook the beans with a quartered onion, end of a celery and several gloves of garlic. When the beans are cooked, I remove the vegetables.

        1. re: Erika L

          +1 for Erika's method. Works very well.

        2. When I cook them in the pressure cooker, I don't soak. They take 15 minutes! Otherwise I have usually soaked overnight.

          1. Per Rick Bayless, I never soak my beans. Just cover with water, bring to a boil and then down to a simmer for about 2 hours. You may need to replenish water occasionally.

            Don't throw the water away either! It has loads of flavor.

            9 Replies
            1. re: dexters

              same here. Never soak. Cook stove top for about 2 hours. You can do it in the oven as well and there would be no need to stir or check on them as you would stove top.

              I'm using a pressure cooker more for beans these days

                1. re: rworange

                  Mr. Orange is right - the slow cooker turns out perfect beans every time, black, red, white, lentils or split peas. I never soak anymore, nor do I have to watch anything boiling on the stove. To elaborate -- measure a little more than twice as much water as beans, add whatever flavorings, put on low and leave. High is quicker, but it's good to be there to stir a couple of times if so.

                2. re: dexters

                  I don't soak either. I use my slow cooker.

                  1. re: MazDee

                    For those sensitive to the "musical" effects of beans, the soaking helps reduce it.

                    1. re: lgss

                      Actually, several tests have proven that soaking *does not* counteract any gaseous effects of beans.

                  2. re: dexters

                    I tried several times to cook beans in whey (long story). They absolutely refused to cook, even after being on the stove for a whole day. Any idea why?

                    1. re: kbinsted

                      Is it possible that whey acts like very hard water? Hard water is unkind to beans, perhaps on account of the minerals, like calcium. Some whey is an excellent source of calcium.

                      My other thought is that certain types of whey are acidic, and acid can have an adverse effect on flavor and texture, but I don't know if whey ever gets acidic enough to matter. Of the two, acid and minerals, I'd be more inclined to suspect minerals. But I'm guessing, so it could be something else entirely.

                      Oh, be sure you trust the source of the beans. Some places never turn over long keeping stock. Really old beans (years) can refuse to soften. Myself, though, I've principally had that problem with kidneys.

                  3. I'm another NO Soak bean maker. A coupl eyears ago I did my own kitchen test - soaked vs unsoaked cooked to the same doneness. Unsoaked beans took about 15 minutes longer. No more soaking and having to plan a day ahead!! PS - put a tablespoon of dried thyme in with any bean as it cooks - a match made in heaven.

                    1. If you do choose to cook directly without soaking, I seem to remember that Julia Child had some problems with a batch she was making. They ran low on liquid and she added more cold water, but they never softened. One of her collaborators said that when adding water to cooking beans, always add very hot or boiling water. Might be worth remembering.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: catarry

                        I never soak any kind of bean. I agree with catarry, always add boiling water to the bean pot if the pot runs low on liquid.

                        And buy your beans here: http://www.ranchogordo.com. These are the best beans anywhere.

                        Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

                      2. Almost every traditional culture that I know of, soaks the beans. Why? They contain phytates and other toxins that break down when you soak them. At least if you don't want to bother others with explosive farts.

                        3-4 hrs to be safe.

                        All species have some sort of protective mechanism to propagate future generations. Legumes, grains, seeds generally pack toxins or tough layer to protect other organism from ingesting it or letting it excrete as a whole, so that the seed has a chance to germinate. This is why a couple of peach pits (broken) could kill a person.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: vgm106

                          sorry, but this is wrong on almost every count. in cultures where beans are most eaten -- mexico for example -- they are rarely soaked. it's not toxins that give you gas but sugars that are indigestible (beano is the replacement enzyme); those sugars are not a defense mechanism, but are the nutrition the sprouting bean plant will need (you may be thinking about quinoa, a grass, which is covered in a naturally occurring insecticide oil). the other reason for gas from beans is they are high in fiber, which the american diet is low in. for black beans in particular, soaking is not necessary. they are usually among the quickest cooking beans.

                          1. Cubans make the best black beans, we are known for this as our national dish. We Always Soak The Beans overnight. They get larger, the soaking water turns dark and the beans cook in 18 minutes in a pressure cooker. You can do the quick method by boiling for two minutes turn off the heat and soak for 15 more min.
                            Make a sofrito:
                            1 can diced tomatoes, 1 green bell pepper, diced, 1 large yellow onion, diced, 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced, 1 Bay leaf, some dry Oregano, ground Cumin, Salt and pepper and olive oil. Saute all until fragrant. Add the beans and soaking water plus more to cover by about 1/2" add 1/2c vinegar (your choice) 1 Tbl. sugar and cook. If using a pressure cooker, start timing after pressure valve starts to rock/hiss. Lower the heat and bring to a gentle rock. If using a conventional pot, cook covered for about two hours. or until tender

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: rfleit

                              This looks amazing! Any guidelines on how the measure of the beans? I'm so making this!

                              1. re: spoonandsaucer

                                Hi spoonsandsaucer.....I always cook the whole 1lb bag. It yields enough for 8 or more. It freezes beautifully, so if you have leftovers you are set for another meal. I made a batch last night in the pressure cooker. I will add here that I also put in a smoked ham hock or ham shank. This gives an incredible amount of flavor. I didn't put this on my original post because a lot of people are trying to eat healthier. If you use a smoked ham shank do not add any salt until the beans are done. The shank might be all you need: After your beans are done, remove the shank with a large slotted spoon, when cool enough to handle, remove all the tender meat from the bone...It literally falls off! and add it back to the soup. Enjoy!

                            2. I think the general guideline is 6-12 hours - any longer and they get mushy (unless you like that sort of thing). You can also cooking them in a slow cooker, which makes it really easy.

                              I had the same experience as Ms. Child with them not cooking properly without a soak. They seem to stay more intact when soaked before cooking.

                              (That sofrito looks amazing!)