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To Soak Or Not To Soak The Beans

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Soaking beans is a daily chore back home as half my family and my in-laws are pure vegetarians. To soak or not to soak the beans was never a dilemma at home as I had assumed that beans is always soaked overnight. But recently, I overheard a friend of mine commenting that she manages to cook beans without soaking it and that caught me by surprise. It got me wondering, if it can really be done and if there is any harm if we don’t soak beans? To answer this question, I decided to first figure out why we soak beans other than of course to soften it and here is what I found.


Why should we soak beans?


  1. The first and foremost reason as we mentioned before is to ensure that the beans soften such that they can be easily cooked.
  2. Soaking in turn allows beans to absorb the liquid needed to cook the beans evenly and completely so that they don't split open, lose their skins, or cook unevenly
  3. It reduces the cooking time and saves energy and this is extremely important not only because it saves your time but also helps in retaining the nutrients, including the proteins, vitamins and minerals in the bean. There is in fact no danger of losing the nutrients of the beans if they are soaked.
  4. Soaking the beans also helps in reducing the gas and also removes indigestible complex sugars from the outer coating of the beans.
  5. It is no surprise that the beans is usually dirty because they go through a series of threshing and sifting process, but is never washed because moisture could result in molding or the beans may even start sprouting. Soaking actually helps in removing all the dirt, rodent feces, insect larvae, and other fertilizer or pesticide residues found on the beans.To see how clean your un-soaked beans are, take a cotton ball dipped in alcohol and rub it on 3-5 beans, you will see the enough to want to wash your beans every time here after! 


What happens when you soak beans?


When soaking beans, water permeates the bean through the hilum, or scar of the beans the seed coat begins to wrinkle which means the water is being absorbed. Some beans seeds wrinkle and some don’t.  Once they have become soft ensure that you throw the water away and you don’t use it for cooking the beans. You should know by now that the water will contain the dirt on the beans and it is not healthy.


You can either soften the beans by soaking it overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Just ensure that you don’t soak the beans beyond the time it starts getting wrinkled or it might start sprouting.


You can also soak the beans in boiling water for 10 minutes or simply pressure-cook them.



Remember that legumes like split peas, lentils and butterbeans can be quickly pressure cooked without soaking, but beans like the Soybean are very hard to soak and they need a full 12 hours to rehydrate.


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To Soak Or Not To Soak The Beans