How to Soak Beans (and Cook Them) |

How to Soak Beans (and Cook Them)

admin December 15, 2011

Image by cookbookman17

Learning how to soak beans is very easy, but it’s a staple of any traditional cook’s kitchen.  Soaking beans makes them easier to digest and more nourishing.  Learn why that is — and how to do it!

How to Soak Beans

Many places talk about doing a “quick soak” which can mean anything from boiling the beans for 10 minutes and letting them sit an hour to microwaving them for a few minutes and calling it good.  Yuck.  Do not do this.

Traditional, long soaking removing the phytic acid and other junk from the beans.  If you think you can’t eat beans because they will give you gas — this only occurs when beans are not properly soaked!  If you’ve avoided beans you may just be able to eat them again.  Which is awesome because they are yummy and very, very frugal.

Whether you use ACV (apple cider vinegar) or baking soda depends on the type of bean.  Black beans and kidney-shaped beans get ACV, and all others get baking soda.  I often go ahead and use baking soda for all of them, though (oops).  I also usually sub raw red wine vinegar for ACV when I do it properly because I don’t like and don’t have ACV on hand.  Any raw vinegar would do.

You will need:

  • Desired amount of dry beans
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda or apple cider vinegar per cup of beans
  • Filtered water to cover


Gather all your supplies.  Pour your beans into a bowl (no more than 1/2 full).  Add your baking soda (or ACV) on top.

Fill your bowl with water to cover the beans by at least 1″.  My bowl was way too full of beans, because I was impatient and not very smart.  Don’t do that.  The beans will absorb a lot so check them after a few hours and add more water if needed.

Let your beans sit about 18 hours.  Longer is good too, but drain the water, rinse the beans, and add new water if you’re planning to let them sit really long.

With some beans you could drain them after soaking and not refill the water and let them sprout!  I haven’t done this yet.  It might be cool.

Once they’re soaked, drain them and rinse them.

Add them to a large pot and cover them with fresh (filtered) water by at least 1″.  Turn your pot on medium high and simmer for 1 – 2 hours, until beans are soft.  Salt after cooking.  (They don’t soften very well if you add salt at the beginning.)

That’s it!  Now you can add them to anything you want.  Or, you can cool them, put them in bags, and freeze them for later.  It’s super easy to make last-minute chili if you have pre-soaked, pre-cooked beans in the freezer.

If you’re looking for in-depth information, you should check out Katie’s The Everything Beans Book!  And tomorrow I’ll be giving away a copy to one lucky reader. 🙂  You can buy it now though, if you’re impatient to get started on some lovely bean recipes!

Do you soak beans traditionally?  Has it helped you digest them better?

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  1. Thanks for this post. I had been looking for the right way to soak beans. One question though, can the soaked beans be cooked in pressure cooker or is simmering them 1-2 hours is a lot better?


  2. I'm so glad you posted this. I hadn't figured out how to do this yet and my 3 yr old doesn't digest mere water-soaked beans well at all. As a result, we haven't been able to enjoy the benefits of quite so many inexpensive meals. Hopefully this will solve the issues. Thanks!


  3. Just curious if a crock-pot can be used at all? I make beans at least once a week for dinners and usually put then in the crock pot for about 8 hours. Any thoughts?


  4. I’ve done this with black beans and white beans but didn’t know about the ACV or baking soda. They never seem as soft as canned beans though, even with soaking for 24 hours and cooking for 1.5 to 2.5 hours…is that normal for dried beans?


    • I didn’t know about the ACV or baking soda either but my beans are usually as soft as the canned ones. Until I read this post, I only soaked “overnight” or up to 10 hours and they were still soft after cooking. Maybe the beans you got were too old? Also, like Kate said, make sure not to add salt until the end of the cooking time. I remember having a hard time the first time I cooked garbanzo beans, but that’s because I had added salt in the beginning like the recipe I used said.


    • Do you mean the interior of the beans or is it the skins that seem harder than canned? I have found that the skins seem tougher on my home-cooked beans even though the interior is quite soft. I am curious if the acv / b-soda will address that problem.


  5. For the last 18 years, I have done long soaking and then sprouting of my beans (usually pintos). I never knew about avc or b-soda additions. I always thought that the sprouting converted the phytic acid; now I wonder if that is true…. I’ll have to try it and see how things change.

    I make a massive amount of beans every few months because we make a lot of Mexican food. By massive, I mean about 25 cups (15 lbs.?). First, we pour the dried beans by batches on the table and sort out all the odd bits and weird looking beans. Then, I soaked them in plain water. I have a few gigantic bowls I use and I have used a food grade buckets before. After soaking for about 15 hours, I dump them into several colanders and rinse well. Now for the sprouting: Because I don’t have a lot of counter space I just stack the colanders full of beans on top of each other with the bottom one set in a bowl. Then, each morning and night for 2 or 3 days, I set each colander in the sink and use my sprayer to really drench the beans. I restack them in between rinses. Once I see the little tail of the root poke out, I start cooking. Sometime, I fill all three of my crock pots and get it all done in 2 rounds of cooking. Other times, I just keep one crock pot going day after day, cooking one batch during the day and then refilling the cooker to cook a batch over night. In between cooking, I keep up the schedule of rinsing the beans still in colanders.

    I freeze most of the beans in family-meal sized portions either in gallon zipper bags frozen flat or in other freezer containers.

    This has worked great for us and is as convenient as having canned beans on hand.


  6. Can you please clarify the function of the ACV and the baking soda? Why do different beans get one vs the other? I would think you would only need the baking soda if you have very hard water. Even then you would have to be careful not to use too much and destroy nutrients in the beans.

    The only bean I can think of at the moment that isn’t kidney shaped is a garbanzo bean…what am I missing here? Thanks!


    • Honestly, I end up just using baking soda for all my beans. It works great for us, and although I often don’t measure and do long soaks, we haven’t had any issues that I know of.


  7. Kidney shaped beans get baking soda. All other beans get something acidic… is what I heard.


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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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