I got some interesting email regarding my post on Ten Reasons Soaking Dried Beans Can Change Your Life. Apparently, I’m not the only fanatic saving money by soaking beans. A few readers emailed to pass wind on different methods for soaking beans. Topics such as “How long to soak” were discussed while some of “the best slow cookers” were reviewed and others shared methods for “no gas pinto beans” and recipes for “white bean chicken chili”. I must admit, I’m a little gassed with all the bean boasting.
But since I’ve found some keener beaners out there, I thought I should expand on the topic of soaking beans. Here are some tips on why you need to soak beans. I’ve also outlined various soaking and cooking methods.
1. Why should I soak these dang beans anyways?
Consistent and even cooking: A soaked bean is more likely to cook evenly. Soaking makes the bean soft and supple and prevents the bean from splitting open or separating from the skin. Who wants a skinless bean with a tough center anyways? Besides, I’m all for keeping my teeth and avoiding the dentist.
Got windy bean gas? No one wants flatulence, especially if you have a windowless office like me. If you suffer from bean-induced, gut-busting, gastrointestinal gusts then you really must soak your beans. Soaking helps to break down all the complex sugars in beans, sugars like the indigestible oligosaccharides. If you’re a very breezy type, you should soak the beans even longer to maximize the amount of sugar dissolved. Ohhh, yea, and please drain the soaking water. Always use fresh water for cooking.
Added nutritional value: A soaked bean is more likely to retain maximum nutritional value. This is mostly due to the shortened time required for cooking. Basically, the longer you have to cook your beans, the less nutritional value will be retained since many vitamins and minerals are obliterated with added heat.
Soaking is frugal: Cooking food costs moolah due to energy consumption. If you soak your beans, you’ll use less energy than those who attempt to just cook a dried tough bean.
2. How to soak dried beans:
There are about three methods for soaking beans:
Method One: Long Soak
The “Long Soak” method is the most common way to soak your beaners. Just put your beans in a large bowl or pot of water and let them sit submerged for 8-12 hours. Soaking actually begins bean germination and promotes enzyme release. The germination process is what breaks down all the complex bean sugars. Breaking down the complex sugar is a good thing as this is what gives us gas. Apparently, soaking beans using the “Long Soak” method can reduce complex sugars by up to 60 percent. I usually leave my beans to soak overnight as this prevents my “better half” from poking them to see if they are done.
Method Two: Quick Or Power Soak
I haven’t tried the “Quick/Power Soak” method. Basically, just bring a pot of water to boil, add your beans, and then let them boil for about three minutes. After boiling, remove the beans from the stove and let them sit in the hot water for 2-6 hours. This method apparently removes 80 percent of complex bean sugars. How does that toot your horn?
Method Three: Quick Cook
This is basically the no soak method where you just throw your dried beans into a pot and cook the heck outta them. This method only really works with beans like lentils and split peas. I wouldn’t recommend the “Quick Cook” method for tougher beans like kidney or chick peas cause you will fart your friends into an oblivion. Just saying….
How to cook soaked beans:
After soaking your beans using one of the above three methods:
- Drain the beans.
- Add fresh water.
- Cook till the desired texture is reached.
Update: I’ve answered many more bean questions in: How to Soak Dried Beans: Your Questions Answered