You’ve bean asking me a lot of bean questions lately. Every other day I open my email to find a fellow bean soaker looking for answers to pressing bean questions. I understand the urgency. Not soaking and cooking dried beans correctly can lead to uncomfortable office situations, especially if you sit in a room without windows. Getting gassed just fails on the fun-o-meter. No human being wants to be beaned.

I thought I covered all legume angles in my previous articles:

But evidently there’s so much more to pass wind on. So I’d like to get gastrointestinal just one more time and answer your keener beaner questions.


Here are the answers to your soaking dried bean questions:

1. Question: Are you sure dried beans are cheaper?

Answer: Generally, buying dried beans costs far less than canned beans. The reason is dried beans expand when soaked, so you end up with more beans per dollar spent. I did a little bean experiment, and found that one can of dried chick peas more than doubled to 2.5 cans worth after soaking.

One reader really wanted the numbers crunched, so she sent me this data from her shopping receipts:

  • Canned: Value Chick Peas 19 oz (540 ml) can: $0.99
  • Dried: Value Chick Peas 19 oz (540 ml) dried $0.98

On the surface both look comparable, but when you consider the dried beans will expand to 2.5 times after soaking and cooking, then the dried beans cost about $0.40 when compared to a can. So yes, dried beans are far more frugal than canned beans. This is assuming you’re not buying some fancy dancy dried magic beans though.

2. Question: What is the shelf life of dried beans?

Answer: The recommended shelf life for dried beans is about one year. The cooking time of dried beans will slightly increase as beans age beyond one year. My nutritionist friends say dried beans may lose some nutrients in extended storage. Be sure to keep your bags of lovely dried beans in a cool dry place. If you see any signs of mold, dispose of beans immediately. I’ve kept dried beans well beyond one year and have had no cooking or soaking issues. I think the key is to keep them dry.

3. Question: How long can you leave soaked beans?

Answer: Most beans only require about 6-8 hours of soaking to fully expand and soften. I’ve been kinda lazy at times and soaked my garbanzos for two full days without issue. The key is to change the bean water frequently (at least daily). If beans are soaked longer than two days then some fermentation may begin which can change the bean’s flavor. A few readers have asked about soaking beans beyond three days – I’m of the opinion why risk getting sick to save $1, it just doesn’t make cents.

Since answering these questions I think my days blogging about dried beans are done. Do you have any soaking tips to share? Is there a method to dilute the methane?