Why I Soak Dried Beans for 24 Hours

For a long time I ignored the instructions to soak dried beans. I love beans, and I eat heirloom dried beans nearly every week — their meaty, creamy textures and tastes are just wonderful, and their complex protein and carbohydrates are a great addition to any diet. But I have a method for cooking them that really doesn't require soaking and generally I don't plan ahead enough to soak them. But now I've changed my tune completely — and here's why.

A few weeks ago I decided to soak a pound of beans before I cooked them — just to speed the cooking up a bit. But then I got distracted, and I didn't have time to cook the beans that night. I put the beans and their soaking water in the refrigerator and I didn't get back to them for a solid 24 hours.

I cooked the beans my usual way, in a covered pot in the oven. They turned out creamy and delicious — as they generally do. The difference came in our, um, digestive response to the beans. Even though my husband and I eat a lot of beans, we still have digestive difficulties with them. But this pot of beans was different — no problems whatsoever!

I began wondering if it had something to do with the soaking time; some cooks do say that longer soaking will help beans become more digestible, and after a few batches more of beans, I'm ready to agree with them.

What do you think? Do you soak beans for a long time? Does this help you digest them? Or is this perhaps just in my imagination?

Regardless, I've definitely changed my perspective on soaking beans; I try to think a day ahead now and soak them for much longer.

Related: Help! How Do I Properly Cook a Pot of Beans?

(Image: Faith Durand)

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