Soaking Beans:
It couldn't be easier!

If you buy canned beans because you've heard that the whole process of soaking beans and cooking beans is difficult, take heart! It couldn't be easier to cook beans from scratch. Once you've tried it, and once you've made it part of your routine, you'll be happy to buy dried beans and cook them yourself.

Why Cook Dried Beans?

  • They are extremely economical.

    You may be shocked at how cheap dried beans are - especially if you buy them in bulk.

  • Using dried beans is good for the environment.

    Dried beans are lighter than canned food, so they use less fuel to transport.

    There is minimal packaging, so little garbage is created.

  • Dried beans are nutritious.

    There are no hidden additives when you cook beans from scratch!

  • You can prepare dried beans just the way you like them.

    If there are allergies in your family, you may have to avoid many processed foods. Cooking dried beans ensures that nothing is in your beans that you don't put there yourself.

I do keep a few cans of beans in my cupboard for emergencies - but I find myself reaching for them less and less frequently as I make cooking beans a part of my regular routine.

Preparing To Soak Beans

Before you soak the beans, rinse and sort them. Here's how.

  • Put the beans in a pot or bowl.
  • Cover them with water, and swish the beans around.
  • Pour the beans and water out into a colander.
  • Poke through the colander, looking for any small rocks or funny looking beans (beans that are discolored, wrinkled or badly misshapen). Discard them.

Soaking Beans

All beans and legumes, with the exception of lentils and peas, should be soaked before they are cooked. (It is possible to cook them without soaking them, but the cooking time would be ridiculously long.)

There are two methods.

  • The Long-Soak Method

    If you already know that you are going to have beans for supper tomorrow, put them to soak them tonight. Some people believe that soaking beans overnight reduces their gassiness.

    • Before you go to bed tonight, measure the beans into a pot.
    • Cover them with room-temperature water.
    • You'll need about 3 cups (750 mL) water for each cup (250 mL) of beans.
    • Cover the pot, and leave it in a cool spot for at least 8 hours but not more than 12 hours.

  • The Quick-Soak Method

    If you haven't planned ahead - if you suddenly decide that you'd like beans for supper tonight - no problem!

    • Place the beans and water - again, about 3 cups (750 mL) water per cup (250 mL) of beans - in a pot.
    • Bring the water to a boil.
    • Let the beans boil vigorously for 2 minutes.
    • Remove from the heat.
    • Let the pot sit, covered, for 1 hour.

    That's it! The beans are ready to cook!

Should I discard the soaking water?

  • Some cooks say No.

    Small amounts of nutrients are lost if you discard the soak water. To retain all of the nutrients, you should cook the beans in the soak water.

  • Some cooks say Yes.

    Discarding the soaking water can reduce the gas sometimes caused by eating beans.

    So, it's your choice.

    If you are new to eating beans, you may experience gassiness more than those who eat beans regularly. You may want to discard the soak water. Begin by eating small amounts of beans. Gradually eat larger helpings. Once your body has adjusted to the new food, you may want to save and use the soak water.

Now that you know all about soaking beans, you are ready to learn how to cook dried beans!

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