August 13, 2019 · Written by Foodtolive Team

Is Soaking Dried Beans Overnight Really Necessary

Beans are one of the most versatile, tastiest, and healthiest foods anyone can eat. They’re inexpensive, lightweight, and have an extremely long shelf life, so it’s easy to buy them in bulk and always have them on hand.

However, for those with a hectic schedule or who struggle with procrastination, dried beans might seem a little more time consuming to cook as opposed to their pre-cooked or canned counterparts. There is a lot of debate as to whether it’s really necessary to soak dried beans overnight. So what’s the real answer?


Why do dried beans need to be soaked

There are several practical reasons why soaking beans for a minimum of 8 hours is so common. First, letting your beans sit in a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator dramatically cuts down on how long they will need to cook the next day. It also helps improve their texture while cutting down on the number that split or burst during cooking.

Another reason why people soak dried beans is that it helps remove some of the complex sugars that the body is unable to digest. That is what causes people to feel gassy or bloated after eating them.

Lastly, beans get dirty. During their long journey from harvest to your kitchen pantry, they absorb numerous chemicals while growing and touch many hands and surfaces once picked. Letting dried beans soak in water helps release some of the dirt and chemicals, and rinsing them further cleans them.

Does soaking beans really decrease cooking time

The answer depends on the type of bean, how old it is, and how you cook it. Generally, the difference in cooking time is between 15 to 30 minutes. Black beans, for instance, are more robust and take longer to cook. Soaking them will have the most noticeable difference in cook time (as much as an hour).

The reason why soaking beans helps speed cooking times along is that the dried beans absorb whatever water they can during the initial immersion. When the seed coat (or skin) is saturated, the water then can surface and cook the inside of the bean.

Do beans become less nutritious when soaked

Some people choose not to soak their dried beans because they want to keep all of their nutrients. Some research shows that soaking beans in water can cause them to lose large amounts of water-soluble antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients. Consider slow cooking your beans to avoid this from happening.


Different ways to soak and rinse dried beans

You can still have tender, creamy beans without soaking them overnight. There are several different ways to do this, but the result will be the same.

Brine your Beans

No matter how you decide to prepare your beans before cooking them, one trick that is sure to be a hit is brining them in salt water. Whether you do a full overnight soak, a quick-soak, or decide to boil them, using salt water creates more tender skins.

The sodium ions from the salt replace calcium and magnesium ions in the bean coats. Since sodium ions are “weaker” than the ones they are replacing, it is easier for the beans to absorb more water. The sodium remains in the coat, not the interior, so they don’t end up becoming overly salty.

The Quick Soak

The quick soak method works best when you are in a hurry or have forgotten to soak them overnight. Add six cups of water for every two cups of beans in a large pot. Boil for two to three minutes, then remove them from the heat, cover, and let stand for an hour. Drain and rinse them with fresh water.

Hot Soak

There is the hot soak, which is the recommended method from the Bean Institute. Like the quick-soak method, start by placing your beans in a pot. Add 10 cups of water for every 2 cups of beans. Boil the beans and water for two to three minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Then, cover, and let stand for as little as four hours or as much as a day. Then, drain and rinse the beans with cool water.


So, what’s the answer

The answer is that no, dried beans do not necessarily need soaking overnight. It comes down to personal preference and how much time you have. As long as they are cleaned well before they are cooked, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy beans at a moment’s notice.