Why You Must Soak Beans Before Cooking

by Sarah Healthy Living, Main Course, RecipesComments: 265
The Scum on This Pot of Soaking Beans is About 2-3 Inches Thick!

I went on a bean soaking binge this past weekend and the amount of scum that came to the top of the large pot of soaking kidney beans was so huge, I thought it deserved its own blog post.

Soaking beans for many hours before cooking them produces a lot of scum which is course, is rinsed and drained away when the soaking is complete.

What is all that scum anyway?  Anti-nutrients, that’s what!  And those anti-nutrients such as phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are going to be in your gut causing you gas, heartburn, reflux and whatever other digestive ills beset you when you eat something that isn’t particularly digestible unless you soak your beans before cooking them.  Traditional cultures took great care to prepare their legumes with a long soak before cooking to enhance digestibility and nutrient absorption.

I love Mexican food but really try to avoid Mexican restaurants for this reason .. they don’t soak their beans before cooking them!   After a meal at a Mexican restaurant, I will typically feel very bloated where eating the same meal prepared at home where I soaked the beans properly before cooking results in no digestive upset whatsoever.

Take the Soaked Beans Challenge!

If you think unsoaked beans don’t cause you any trouble .. take this challenge. Soak beans next time before cooking and notice the difference in your stomach after eating.  You may think that the unsoaked beans don’t cause you any trouble, but you just may find that soaked beans are infinitely more filling and that you eat less and enjoy the meal more as a result!

Traditional peoples were very wise in the preparation of their foods.  They not only selected nutritious foods but they prepared them for maximum digestibility and nutrition.   What good is eating nutritious legumes if the body is so whacked by the anti-nutrients that it can’t very easily extract and digest the nutrition?

So, the next time you make your beans, make sure you soak them first!  I soak large pots of various types of beans every month or so and then cook them – freezing for easy, quick meals when beans are required like homemade chili.

How To Soak Beans Properly

If you’ve never soaked beans before, it’s so easy.

For kidney shaped beans, put beans, a pinch of baking soda and enough water to cover in a large pot and soak for 12-24 hours. For non-kidney shaped beans like black beans and other legumes, soak with water and 1 TBL of cider vinegar or lemon juice for every cup of dried legumes used. 

For maximum digestibility, it is best to rinse and refresh the water and baking soda or the acidic medium once or twice during the soaking period.

I always soak beans for the full 24 hours (instead of just overnight) and sometimes even 36 hours if I get busy and just can’t get to it right when 24 hours is up.

After soaking, drain and rinse the beans until all the scum is washed away.  Fill the pot with fresh filtered water, bring to a boil, and skim away any additional foam that may come to the top at the start of the boil.  Turn down the heat to a simmer, add 4 crushed garlic cloves, and cook until the beans are soft (about 4 hours).

Drain beans and add to your favorite dish or let cool and freeze in large freezer bags for quick meals at a later date!

Bye bye Bean-o!  You won’t be needing it or any other over the counter gas med again after learning to soak beans before cooking!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

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