Ten Reasons Soaking Dried Beans Can Change Your Life

OK, so I am feeling a little dramatic today about the lowly bean. I feel like I’ve discovered this new (well old) way to really make a difference. Perhaps I spent too much time soaking in the bathtub this evening, but I really think switching from canned beans to dried beans is really good for my health and good for my wallet.

If you have been reading this site you already know I have become pretty darn frugal about groceries and shopping in general.When I was entering my grocery bill into Quicken the other day I couldn’t help but notice how the price of organic chick peas (also called garbanzo beans) has gone up! A can used to cost $0.99. It seems the good people at Superstore have jacked-up the price to $2.40 a can.

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It’s kinda funny but my “better half” was more indignant about the price increase than I. So after several heated discussions on how inflation has attacked our beloved garbanzo bean, we decided to dry-up and buy dried beans.

Here are ten reasons soaking dried beans can change your life:

1. Price:

Buying dried beans is extremely cheap. All you frugal types will agree you can get significantly more beans by forgoing the canned variety. I like saving money and at the same time getting more beans for my buck! The cool thing about dried beans is they expand when soaked, so you end up with even more beans per dollar spent. This is the new math!

2. Sodium Free:

Salt is bad for you. It’s a sad truth, people. Salt is terrible for your arteries and body in general. Canned beans can be loaded with sodium. Sure, you can buy canned cooked beans with low or no sodium, but why bother when dry bulk beans are salt free?

3. Healthier:

I don’t know how long canned beans can survive in canned-captivity, but I bet they have some kinda preservatives to keep them juicy and fresh. Now, the dried beans I buy are preservative free and have a shelf life of eons. I have no scientific bean data, but I have a hunch that dried beans are healthier than canned beans cause they are less processed, less preserved, and less exposed to chemicals.

4. Tastier:

My “better half” came up with this point. He really thinks soaking and cooking dried beans is far tastier than eating precooked canned beans. I have to agree with him as they just taste better and more natural.

5. Less waste and environmentally friendly:

I think buying dried beans really helps the environment. Dried beans require less energy expended in production, less energy expended in recycling, and less material usage for the packaging (steel can and the paper label). I am thrilled I can reduce my footprint (foodprint) and at the same time save lots of bucks. It may seem small, but if we all reduce the amount of canned goods we consume I think we can make a big difference. Think positive! Ohh, and I really hate buying all those steel cans just to recycle them again.

6. More variety and selection:

Have you ever seen a can of mung beans? I sure haven’t. But when I saw a nice bin of mung beans for $2 bucks a pound (dry weight), I knew I had to try them. Gentle reader, mung beans are delicious and can be added easily to soups and stews! Anyways, there is sooo much variety to be found in dried beans. It’s awesome to try new varieties every now and then and bypass the canned bean aisle with the same old stuff. Bean there, done that.

7. More cooking control:

I used to hate opening up a can of beans only to find them a little too mushy for my liking. So, I was thrilled to find that soaking and cooking beans gives the cook ultimate control in how firm, juicy, or mushy the final bean will be. This is good news for bean fanatics like me.

8. Bisphenol A (BPA):

You know how cans have a plastic liner in them? Well, this liner apparently contains a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is a component for making several polymers and polymer additives. Bisphenol A has recently become controversial because it mimics estrogen and thus could induce hormonal responses. Personally, the less I expose myself to chemicals the better.

9. Less storage space:

I hate filling my pantry with lots of cans. I live in a small house, so every inch of food storage space matters! Dry beans take up little to no space, so I can be frugal with both my money and my space.

10. Soaking beans is easy:

My friends seem to have this preconceived notion that soaking beans is hard work and takes lots of time. Not true I say. It’s not like you have to stand there and watch the beans soak. To soak my beans, I just pour them into a bowl, and add water. That’s it! I then leave them submerged in water to soak over night and have them ready for my slow cooker in the morning. It’s easy!

Need more dried beans information? Try:

Are you fanatical about beans?

Your two cents:

  1. ginger December 7th, 2009

    to make cooking beans energy- and cost-free,use a solar oven. ok, it’s not a good time to try this right now in the northern hemisphere, but perfect in Australia[summer here]. to make a cheap solar oven, look for plans on the net. i found 2 big cardboard boxes, one a bit bigger than the other. i screwed up old newspaper and stuffed between the 2 boxes as insulation [on the bottom too]. i lined the inner box with alum foil. then rested a cast iron dutch oven on wooden slats or sticks laid over the foil. prop a shiny silver windscreen sunvisor around the box on 3 sides to reflect the sun onto the iron pot. cover the top of the box with a piece of glass [i slide a window out of the track and just rest it on top. tilt the box a little bit towards due south [northern hemisphere] or due north[southern hemisphere] using bricks to get the angle right. put soaked beans, vegies and water in the pot in the morning, cover pot with iron lid, cover box with window glass, and leave it all day. make sure the spot is shade-free all day. unless you live in a hot desert,it works best with smaller quicker-cooking legumes. a solar oven makes great pizzas too. bon appétit!

  2. Caleb January 24th, 2010

    Just stopping by on some impromptu internet orienteering and I thought I’d say that I really enjoyed this article, you have a very witty and cheerful way of writing that brought a smile to my dile. Informative too. Thanks.

  3. Lillie February 11th, 2010

    I have continued to carry out my grandmother’s tradition of soaking my beans before cooking them. I never knew why other than it speeded up the cooking process. It’s good to know all of the other benefits that beans have to offer. I love them and there is nothing better on a cold day.

  4. sewingirl March 27th, 2010

    A couple of thoughts from a bean grower… We always have dry beans on hand, straight from the field! I don’t soak any more, just rinse and cook in the slowcooker! Then I add soup or chili ingredients, or freeze in smaller packages for later. The home ec teacher at my school had never heard of soaking beans, her family just started them out dry, took a lot longer as I recall. I am not a fan of the five or six bean soup mixes, it always seems to me that the smaller beans are mush, before the larger ones are done cooking.

  5. Joan July 4th, 2010

    I soaked my northern beans yesterday & heated up the water, then added baking soda to de-gas them. They soaked all day & over night. This morning when I removed the lid, they had a foul odor. I drained them….I hope my guests don’t get sick tonight. They are now ina crock pot. Any suggestions?

  6. Kristy John August 6th, 2010

    Thank you for telling me what I never want to become. How depressing, a life spent squabbling over bean prices and entering it into a spreadsheet. Thank god I know I could be doing worse.

  7. Gavin October 2nd, 2010

    The ‘salt is bad’ myth is a popular pet peeve of mine. Salt is only problematic for those with preexisting heart conditions. For the rest of us, salt is an essential part of life. If you exercise regularly and have good hydration habits, you’ll be sweating out salt to the point where you’ll be needing to add it to your diet. Not to get into a rant on electrolytes, but that’s what salt is.

    Should your daily intake be a metric ton of salt? Of course not. Like almost all things in life, moderation is key. There are plenty of reasons to avoid heavily processed foods, other than salt.

    On a side note, sometimes people ask why salt is added as a preservative. Salt can add to flavor, but used as a preservative, it creates an environment in which most pathogenic or food-spoiling bacteria cannot grow. Because these bacteria often need a neutral or specific pH or specific osmotic conditions (amount of salute vs solvent, IE salt in water), salt or things such as citric acid are used to create an inhospitable environment to prevent or inhibit growth. Preservatives aren’t all bad.

    “Salt is bad for you. It’s a sad truth, people. Salt is terrible for your arteries and body in general. Canned beans can be loaded with sodium. Sure, you can buy canned cooked beans with low or no sodium, but why bother when dry bulk beans are salt free?”

  8. Jerkette October 30th, 2010

    To Kristy John:

    How lame a life spent commenting on how lame are websites about entering bean prices on a spreadsheet.

  9. Yvonne Treece February 19th, 2011

    Just though I’d drop in with a delicious bean recipe….take a batch of white beans (especially the larger italian varieties), cook and drain. Saute a couple (or more) cloves of garlic, minced. Add the beans to the garlic oil. Add fresh chopped tomato, fresh chopped basil, fresh chopped parsley to taste. Grate or shred aged parm-reggiano cheese and sprinkle over all. Finish with fresh squeezed lemon juice. A sprinkle of sea salt and cracked pepper and you have a fabulous main dish. The flavors are so wonderful. Eat it with a tossed salad and fruit for dessert and you have the perfect meal.

  10. Kerry February 19th, 2011

    @Yvonne Sounds amazing. Thank you. Indeed, the perfect meal. 😉

  11. Doober February 26th, 2011

    I just got done protesting for teachers. And I’m eating beans! Dried beans give me the strength it takes to protest for larger government checks that keep me on the dole so I don’t have to work for anything better!!

    In the future I hope the government mandates we eat only beans and dark lettuce. That would free us.

  12. Rich S. April 4th, 2011

    I’ve found that dried beans can be frozen after cooking. So I soak and cook a bunch then thaw them as needed. They come out great.

  13. Zuzu April 20th, 2011

    4. Tastier
    Too right! Because I throw in a little salt, a few garlic cloves (don’t even peel, I’m that lazy), and a few bay leaves every time. Mmmmm! We are Muslim, so we don’t use ham in our bean soup — just curry spices, herbs, paprika, onion, more garlic, cayenne, etc. etc. Mmmmm! Beans go in my salad and help me not eat so much cheese. My little buddies.

    If I suspect that I might be too busy/lazy in the next day or two to get to the cooking (no slow cooker here at couch-surfing HQ), I soak in a recycled yogurt carton in the fridge. No nasty smell even after two days.

  14. TheBudgeteer April 28th, 2011

    I’ve heard they are good for the heart 🙂

  15. Linda May 28th, 2011

    Several people mentioned the song “Beans Beans the Magical Fruit” – the way I learned it is “Beans Beans the Musical Fruit.” Works way better with “toot.” Maybe you’re thinking of the magic beans from Jack and the Beanstalk? But hey, no matter how you sing it, beans are great! I’ve wondered lately about cooking big batches and freezing them in small ones, glad to hear it works!

  16. Stevie November 2nd, 2011

    Hey sweety, like others already mentioned, you need salt. In fact, you’ll die without it. Nothing would get in and out of most of your cells. However, the term “salt” is totally misleading. There are very many different salts. Two are significant: the one you refer to as more or less evil 😉 and the stuff they call “Nosalt” at the store. You need both. So, every time you take in any table salt, it’s probably good to balance it with some of the other stuff. I use a mix of potassium and sodium chlorides, about 2/1 in favour of the KCL. My blood pressure(most often increased through sodium intake) remains lower than most people, and I think my diet plays a large part.

  17. christina April 13th, 2012

    Love your dedication to dried legumes! With minimal foresight, you’re able to save $$ and make soulful meals without added salt/preservatives, etc. Beautiful!

    Christina
    foodiewithalife.blogspot.com

  18. Al April 20th, 2012

    You’re incorrect about the salt. Salt is essential. Among other things, salt helps maintain the fluid in our blood cells and is used to transmit information in our nerves and muscles. It is also used in the uptake of certain nutrients from our small intestines. The body cannot make salt and so we are reliant on food to ensure that we get the required intake. Please do your homework before boldly making false and misleading statements.

  19. Jane June 9th, 2012

    I have found that if I eat a lowfat, high fiber, vegetarian diet supplemented by small amounts of lean fish, meat and dairy and no gluten, I can eat beans multiple times in the day without having smelly gas and without having so much gas that it is a problem. Many people who have problems with beans may have a gluten intolerance that damaged their intestines, making it hard to digest dairy, fats, and protein and difficult to handle fiber. Also, the smell may be coming from the things you add to beans, such as onions, garlic, bacon grease, and peppers. Just food for thought.

  20. Dismuke June 19th, 2012

    I wouldn’t advise cooking beans in a slow cooker. Some beans – most notably kidney beans – are actually toxic when they are raw. Those toxins are destroyed by the heat they are exposed to during normal cooking procedures. But since slow cookers do not get very hot, it is not enough to destroy those toxins.

    My strong suggestion if you consume dried beans with any regularity at all is to invest in a pressure cooker. It will cook virtually any bean (other than soy beans) in 20 minutes or less. Dried black-eyed peas do not even require soaking with a pressure cooker and are done after cooking for only 10 minutes.

  21. Karen September 26th, 2012

    it is actually healthier if you ‘ferment’ the beans while soaking them, this removes the phytic acid that not only makes them harder to digest but it actually removed essential minerals from your body (Zinc, magnesium, iron etc). There is a lot of good research on this, easier to find if you good it. The easy method is either using lemon or I used organic apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp per cup of beans and then soak the same 12-24 hrs, rinse and cook

  22. Salva P June 12th, 2013

    Put your beans in glass bottles, add spring water, place in refrigerator for 2 days and reduce cooking time tenfold. Try it with Chick Peas and you’ll find out that in just minutes your peas will be ready to eat. Use low heat. You also eliminate problems with fermentation and having to drain and rinse and adding fresh water again

  23. James July 15th, 2013

    I just want to thank Gavin for saying what I wanted to say. Salt is not bad for you! Your body’s salt-to-water ratio is among the most rigidly controlled functions of the human body. There was just a front-page story in the New York Times about how a lot of the studies that our “salt is bad” idea comes from were done in the 1970s and looked at people who ate high amounts of red meat and high-fat foods — and so salt became tarred from the same brush. But there’s little reason for that.

    As Gavin pointed out, there are reasons to avoid heavily processed food. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel free to salt your food to whatever degree you like!

    People say, well, what does it matter? Isn’t it better to be on the safe side?

    No, in this case it is not. People need to like what they are eating to eat it and want to eat it again, and if delicious salt makes them choose vegetables or a baked potato over french fries, then salt is an overlooked hero, not a maybe-guilty suspect.

  24. HJ August 23rd, 2013

    Replying to a comment somebody made that cooking on stove top is energy wasteful.

    Pressure cooking takes little energy when done properly. Most efficient way of cooking short of solar oven. Most of energy used is getting cooker and its contents to pressure. Then what most people fail to realize is that you need to turn heat way down, I mean way down, just barely on! Takes very little added heat to maintain pressure in the cooker for as long as needed.

    For those cookers with jiggler type pressure regulator, you dont want the thing doing a St. Vitus Dance and hissing and steaming all over. You want it just giving a very sleepy nod three or four times a minute and barely making any noise. More than that and you are too hot. Now if you have a gauge too, you can see if its correct pressure when its doing this.

    I think also maybe many people have electric stoves and I can imagine that being a problem when using a pressure cooker. these are much harder to regulate temperature than good old gas flame. And unlike gas, electric takes significant time lag to go from high temp to low. Although the pressure cooker once at pressure, needs to go to low immediately, just enough heat to maintain the pressure. Maybe one could use two burners, set one to high and one to low, then physically move the pressure cooker to the low heat burner when pressure is reached and turn off the high temp burner….

  25. HJ August 23rd, 2013

    Oh forgot to mention, you really dont need to soak beans if you use a pressure cooker. Once pressure is up and maintained, it only takes around 15 to 20 minutes even with unsoaked dry beans. You do of course need water in the cooker. Probably like 3 cups water to 1 cup beans.

  26. Yevon January 2nd, 2014

    I have Celiac and when I made pinto beans had a horrible reaction. I was told great northern are gluten free. I pray they are since I love a big pot of beans and cornbread on these winter days. Does anyone know if there is a certain brand that is best? And yes I soak or my mom use to cook with a couple pinches of soda for 20 min and then rinsed 3x. Then added seasonings (ham, or bacon) and water. Cooked all day. Oh how I want a big pot today! Praying the ones I have will be gluten free!

  27. Rudy February 19th, 2014

    Use pressure cooker to for much faster cook time than slow cooker and it saves your electric cost if you use eg. cuisinart electric pressure cooker. A must have when I cook beans, so tender and delicous

  28. John Pachivas February 27th, 2014

    @ Kristy John,

    by your name i really cant figure out how to address you oh well,

    in your case , …”one bad bean don’t spoil the whole bunch girl”

  29. Kim Shields April 24th, 2014

    Hi, great article! We recently started on the emergency storing food and other things bandwagon and so of course have started storing and eating dried beans and rice. I decided to search different recipes that could make this actually fun so have made what I call “Survivalist Red beans and rice”- with red beans, rice, two tomatoes, 1 bell pepper (if you have it), 1 cut up kosher hot dog (optional) and seasoned with Cajun Creole seasoning (salt free). We’ve saved money and have enjoyed the food as well.

  30. Lynne January 14th, 2015

    I just made black beans without soaking them…. I put them in my crock pot with around 8 cups of water along with some onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper and cooked it for 7 hours on high and low for an hour.. delicious is all I can say..

  31. Pat January 19th, 2015

    I’ve re-dicovered dried beans as well. I soak and then the pressure cooker for a short period of time. (as short as 15 minutes on the heat, turn the heat off and leave it until its cooked down – come out perfect.

  32. Hal October 23rd, 2015

    I just made my first huge pan of beans. I had to get away from all the sodium in the regular canned foods and this is the best way. I made enough for 4 more meals, by that time my tummy will get used to the beans coming down the pipes.
    Thank you so much for this blog and to all who left comments.

    Hal

  33. I love salt November 14th, 2015

    Salt is something our bodies NEED….it is NOT bad for you. Good grief

  34. beansoupers December 27th, 2015

    @ I love salt: Sodium is necessary to the body, not salt. Sea salt contains sodium along with many other essential minerals necessary for proper nerve conduction, etc. Doctors scare people off salt for no good reason (you know those swollen feet you have and that high blood pressure? That comes from dehydration, not salt intake, but a doctor won’t tell you that – about 80% of the population is dehydrated and doesn’t realize it). I avoid “grocery store” salts (like Morton) because those are bleached and oftentimes have other things added to keep it from caking, etc. When I buy sea salt I make sure it is “wet”, gray or celtic are the best. I also like pink Himalayan salt, but I prefer the grays. There is a great article at the Weston A. Price Foundation.org regarding salt/sodium and why it’s not a bad thing (do a search there). It’s a long article but well worth reading.

    During the Great Depression, people sometimes survived on beans and bean dishes and it’s a good thing they had them because they had little meat (for the needed protein), and beans are great protein.

    When I make homemade bean soup I soak my navy beans for as long as 24 hours, then I rinse them and bring to a boil, and simmer them while I boil the ham bone in another pot. I pour the water off the boiled beans and add the broth & meat from the ham bone to the beans, some chopped browned onion and celery, and add my spices; then add a boiled, mashed up potato or two (great for the potassium content) and let the whole works simmer gently for another hour or so. Not long before serving, I add a mixture of whole milk and heavy cream to the pot and let it simmer for about 20 minutes – because that’s the way my Mom and my gramma’s did it!

  35. dozencook January 3rd, 2016

    Saw an easy recipe on a morning show for black-eyed pea sausage stew for new year’s. Bought my customary tofu sausage, a yellow pepper, sweet onion and a touch of fresh jalapeno. Recipe dude said dont bother soaking, just dump em in (stock pot, not crock pot) and simmer 90 mins. Well, I quick soaked the peas AND a bag of soup bean mix. And it took overnight in the fridge for beans to really soften. Meanwhile, I am SICK AS A DOG. All symptoms of food poisoning…..wayyy beyond a little gas or bloating. As I write, Ive been up all night. Discomfort started mid evening and got worse and worse. Still in midst of a volcanic illness. Asking all you Beanos……whhat did I do wrong???

  36. Blazr February 17th, 2016

    Whilst searching the web to see if if dried beans were healthy err have just as much or close to fresh nutrient value, I found this post.

    Still don’t have my answer, but I got a laugh. Laughing is healthy/good for you and think I will go soak those cheap garbanzo beans I bought, then figure out how I am supposed to cook them. LoL

    I could never give up salt, sodium, which ever, a combination of both. Moderation is key except when cooking navy/northern beans. Sorry heart…

    Since a kid, canned foods taste gross to me and eating out costs wayyy too much now. I gotta put my nose to the www. and learn to make my own salad bar in the fridge. Thanks for the post.

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