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Bean soaking help

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

We eat a lot of beans in our house and I always use canned yikes2.gif and now i would really like to master not using canned - so, i buy a bag of beans and then soak 'em....for how long and in how much water??? Thanks!!!

post #2 of 17

Most cookbooks will tell you to soak them overnight (8 hours), then rinse them and cook them for around an hour or two. Cooking time depends a lot on how old your beans are (older beans take longer) and the type of bean. A lot of cookbooks have bean cooking charts that let you look up the type of bean you want to cook to get a better idea of cooking time. One of my favorite cookbooks, Complete Vegetarian Kitchen by Lorna Sass, has some great information on cooking beans.


With that said, I struggled for years to cook dried beans the perfect amount... They'd always get too smooshy (or they'd stay too hard) no matter what I tried. Then I read a tip in a book called The Best Make Ahead Recipe (by the Cooks Illustrated people) suggesting to just pick over and wash the beans then throw them in the slow cooker with about 2 or 3" of water covering them. Presto! I've done this a number of times with black beans and it works great. I add boiling water to the slow cooker then cook them on low for 6-8 hours and the beans come out great with no soaking. Can't wait to try this technique with chickpeas and pintos. It was a real revelation for me!

post #3 of 17

I use a ton of lentils and mung beans.  Because they are smaller than other beans, they do not take as long to soften up.  Also, I use a pressure cooker to cook them which reduces the cooking time significantly!  

post #4 of 17

i just put mine in a pot of water overnight otherwise i have done a quick boil method

post #5 of 17
I use a pressure cooker and don't soak at all, or just soak however long I remember to, maybe a couple of hours.
post #6 of 17
Also you can cook up big batches and freeze them!
post #7 of 17

I don't soak, I just throw them in the pan, add a chopped onion, and boil them until they're done.  

post #8 of 17
I read an article in the LA Tmes about 15 years ago that changed the way I cook beans. The food writer observed that many bean-eating cultures don't bother to soak, they just cook longer. He cooked beans unsealed, quick soaked, and overnight soaked, and everyone reported that the unsmoked beans tasted the best. They also didn't take that much longer to cook.

I don't worry about soaking beans. Wash in several changes of water and then cook in lightly salted water, usually with a chopped onion. I keep the heat low so they are simmering, not actively boiling. With good beans that aren't ancient, it's really not a lot of time.
post #9 of 17

we cook with gas so it just saves us a lot more energy to do a soak

post #10 of 17

I soak mine overnight and that works fine. I think a lot depends on how old the beans are and if it takes way too long, the beans are probably too old. When I forget to soak overnight, I bring the beans to a boil and let them set for an hour before simmering, kind of like what LightForest is saying. I've never used a pressure cooker. I think it also might be important not to put in salt until the end. I never do soak lentils.

post #11 of 17

The coolest guide ever for how long to soak stuff! - http://www.cookingforwell-being.com/Chart_files/sample-chart.pdf

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone!! I shall be trying these out as soon as we get back from Disney World - we leave in nine days!! :D

post #13 of 17

i soak my beans for two reasons (mostly i am a vegetarian eating meat rarely so beans are a big part of my diet).


1. to reduce their gassiness (so after i soak them i wash them multiple times to get rid of that enzyme) http://www.savvyvegetarian.com/svreports/beans_without_gas.pdf

2. to sprout them before i cook. its really easy sprouting them (esp. if you are a SAHM). after soaking you rinse them off then leave a tiny amount of water in the pan you are soaking in and cover with a kitchen towel. soak and stir them 3 or 4 times a day (thus SAHM helps). some beans take a couple of days to soak, others just one day is enough.


i believe if you start cooking them with salt it takes longer time to cook. so i just cook mine and then add things after they are cooked.


i havent perfected the art of cooking beans. i hate throwing away the water after cooking so i sometimes spice my bean when i cook them.


i'd love to pressure cook them, which i sometimes do. but sometimes they get mushy.


i never soak lentils (not because i dont want to) because they cook so fast that its my 'quick fix' if i dotn have any beans in the freezer.

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone!! We have not had beans on the meal plan yet since asking lol....can't wait to try everyone's suggestions. Thank you!

post #15 of 17

Coincidentally, I have maple baked beans in the oven right now. I soaked them overnight and started them baking a couple of hours ago. They smell wonderful and I'm getting hungry! 


I think the soaking etc. depends on how sensitive your digestive system is. I learned a helpful tip if you find you are very sensitive to beans and you are cooking them on the stovetop. After soaking overnight and draining them, put them in a pot covered in fresh water. Bring them to boil. Then drain off the water, replace it with fresh water and return to the heat and continue cooking according to your recipe. 

post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks ollyoxenfree!! Could you share your maple baked bean recipe? We LOVE maple!!
post #17 of 17
Originally Posted by mirpmama View Post

Thanks ollyoxenfree!! Could you share your maple baked bean recipe? We LOVE maple!!




Maple Baked Beans (adapted from a Gourmet Magazine recipe)


2 1/4 cups Great Northern or pea beans 

8 slices bacon

4 1/2 cups water

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce 

1 Tbsp. dry mustard

1 tsp. ground black pepper


Soak beans for at least 8 hours. Drain. 


In frypan, cook bacon. Remove bacon and dice. Drain all but 2 Tbsp. of bacon fat from the pan. Saute onion until tender. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Remove from heat. 


Put beans in ovenproof heavy pot with a lid. Add water, onion and garlic mixture, maple syrup, mustard, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and bacon. Stir to combine. Cover and bake in a 350F until beans are tender, about 3 to 4 hours. 


Reduce oven temperature to 325F. Remove lid. Bake beans, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed but beans are still saucy, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours more. 


If you want a vegetarian version, just omit the bacon and saute the onion and garlic in a little vegetable oil. 

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