Soaking Dry Beans – Why Do You Soak Dry Beans Before Cooking

Dry Beans Soaking In A Bowl Of Water
soaking beans
(Image credit: vkuslandia)

If you generally use canned beans in your recipes, it’s time to try cooking your own from scratch. It’s cheaper than using canned beans and you control what is actually in the beans. Also, beans cooked from scratch have better flavor and texture than canned and they’re healthier. Soaking dry beans can even cut your cooking time in half!

Is Soaking Dried Beans Necessary?

No, soaking dried beans is not necessary, but soaking dry beans accomplishes two goals: cutting cooking time and reducing stomach distress. The beans will cook eventually if not pre-soaked but will take significantly longer. So, how long does it take to soak dry beans before cooking?

Why Do You Soak Dry Beans?

The reasons why you soak dry beans are twofold. Number one, it cuts cooking time significantly. The second reason has to do with their reputation for flatulence. If people do not eat beans on a regular basis, the oligosaccharides or starches contained in the beans will cause digestive disturbance. If the intake of beans is gradually increased, the likelihood of gas is reduced but soaking beans overnight will also reduce this likelihood.

Soaking dry beans releases the bean’s starches prior to cooking, which gives relief to those who avoid ingesting beans on the basis of stomach distress. Now that your interest is piqued, I bet you’re wondering how long to soak dry beans properly.

There are two ways to soak dry beans and the length they are soaked depends on the method used. Beans can be soaked overnight, at least eight hours, or boiled and then soaked for an hour.

How to Soak Beans

The easiest way to soak beans is the overnight method. Wash and pick out any dud beans and then cover the beans with water, one-part beans to three parts cool water. Allow the beans to soak overnight or at least eight hours.

After that time, drain the beans and then cover them with water again. Cook the beans for an hour or so until they reach the desired tenderness. Large beans tend to take longer than small beans.

Another method for soaking dry beans involves cooking them first but doesn’t take hours of soaking. Again, rinse the beans and pick through them and then cover them with three parts water and boil for five minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for an hour.

After the hour of soaking in hot water, drain and rinse the beans and then cover with water again and cook to the desired tenderness, again for about an hour.

As the beans are cooking, you can add any seasonings you desire but since salt toughens beans, refrain from adding salt until they are at the tenderness you desire.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.