How to Soak Dried Beans

HOW TO SOAK DRIED BEANS

There are two ways to soak dried beans: the quick-soak method and the overnight soak.  Step-by-step instructions are listed in detail below.  See the FAQ at the end for any further questions.

The Quick-Soak Method

  1. Measure out the amount of dried beans that the recipe calls for and place them in a colander.  Carefully inspect the beans and remove any small stones, debris, and questionable-looking beans.
  2. Rinse the beans in the colander under cold running water.  Move the beans around with your hand while under the running water so that the beans are thoroughly washed.
  3. Place the beans in a large pot.  Fill the pot with enough water so that the water level is at least 2-3 inches above the beans.  The general rule is three parts water to one part beans.  Be sure to leave enough room in the pot so that the water can boil without spilling over the top
  4. Place the pot of beans on the stove and turn the heat to high. Bring the water to a boil, uncovered.  After cooking at a full boil for two minutes, turn the heat off and immediately cover the pot.
  5. Let the beans soak, covered, for at least 90 minutes.  Larger beans and old beans will benefit from longer soaking times.
  6. When you are ready to cook the beans, drain and discard the soaking water.

Soaking Beans Overnight

  1. Measure out the amount of dried beans that the recipe calls for and place them in a colander.  Carefully inspect the beans and remove any small stones, debris, and questionable-looking beans.
  2. Rinse the beans in the colander under cold running water.  Move the beans around with your hand while under the running water so that the beans are thoroughly washed.
  3. Place the beans in a large pot.  Fill the pot with enough cold water so that the water level is at least 2-3 inches above the beans.  The general rule is three parts water to one part beans.
  4. Cover the pot of beans.  Let the beans soak for at least eight hours.  If you intend to soak the beans for more than one day, replace the soaking water with fresh water every 24 hours.
  5. When you are ready to cook the beans, drain and discard the soaking water.

FAQ

How long can I let the beans soak?
Beans can be soaked for several days using the overnight soaking method as long as the soaking water is changed every 24 hours.

Beans soaked using the quick-soak method should not be left to soak for more than a few hours.

What kinds of beans should I soak?
Lentils, split peas, and pinto beans do not need to be soaked.  All other beans should be soaked before cooking.

Should I soak my beans overnight or use the quick-soak method?
Unless otherwise specified in the recipe, the method of soaking depends entirely on your time constraints and beans.  Generally, the longer beans soak, the less cooking time they will require, so soaking overnight may help reduce your time spent in the kitchen.  Also, since large beans and old beans require more rehydration, they should be soaked for at least a few hours.  You can still effectively soak them using the quick-soak method, but be prepared to spend a long time cooking them!

After the beans have been soaked, are they ready to be used in the recipe?
Unless otherwise specified in the recipe (falafel is a big exception here), the answer is NO.  The beans will still be too tough to eat even after soaking for many hours.  They must be cooked before they can be used in the recipe.  Please see the How to Cook Beans guide for instructions on how to cook beans.

If I still need to cook the beans, why should I bother soaking them?
Beans are soaked in advance in order to reduce the cooking time.  Soaking beans does not actually cook them.  Yes, it is possible to throw the beans directly into a pot of boiling water and cook them without pre-soaking, but they will require many hours of cooking time before they are soft enough to eat.  It is faster and easier to soak, then cook them.


One Response to How to Soak Dried Beans

  1. Mike Corbeil says:

    Re. “If I still need to cook the beans, why should I bother soaking them?”:

    There’s an additional reason for pre-soaking the beans that’s beneficial and very welcome. As WHFoods.com says for black, lima, and other beans, pre-soaking beans “has been found to reduce raffinose- and stachyose-type oligosaccharides, sugars associated with causing flatulence”.

    The following page is about black beans and the above-quoted part is found at the beginning of the second paragraph under the subheading of, “Tips for Preparing and Cooking”, which is linked just after the nutrition chart near the top of the article.

    http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=2

    I just learned of the quick method of pre-soaking last week and prefer it over the long method, which I couldn’t presently do due to lack of refrigerator space. A solution for that might be to use a larger container, place the beans and adequate amount of water for one night or one 24-hour period of pre-soaking in a larger container, add plenty of ice, and then place the container in the coolest part of a house, or in a cooler, like a picnic cooler, f.e. It would take a lot of ice if a person was not going to be around to add more ice every few or several hours, but putting the container containing the beans, water and ice in an insulated container like a cooler might keep enough of the ice in solid form long enough.

    I’ll use the quick method for now, since I’m not presently working. If I was working or occupied away from the residence whole days, then the long pre-soaking method would need to be used; or, the quick method and cooking could also be done during days I’m at home, while nother way would be to do the pre-soaking one evening and the cooking the next evening, f.e. In the latter case, I’ld put the beans, drained, rinsed, and drained well again, in a plastic bag that would then be placed in the refrigerator until the cooking is to be done.

    Re. flatulence:

    My relatives always used the long pre-soaking method and to help eliminate the flatulence-causing element(s), they would add some baking soda. With the experiment performed last week, using the quick pre-soaking method, I didn’t add any baking soda for the cooking and no flatulence occurred. So WHFoods.com seems to be right about pre-soaking (quick or long method) eliminating the flatulence effect.

    And that causes me to wonder if adding the baking soda truly helped regarding flatulence from beans cooked at home.