Why I No Longer Soak My Beans


For us, consuming beans is a fact of life. They’re cheap, they’re plentiful. They’re one of my son’s favorite foods. They can be put into a huge variety of dishes and taste like they belong there. They’re a vegetable with protein. They can stretch meat meals. Did I mention they’re cheap? They store beautifully and take up no freezer space. They’re easily found in bulk. What’s not to like?

Well, the gastric distress was not liked. In fact, one family member was very vocal about it. Bean-zyme was only making the problem marginally better. So I recently made the switch from soaking my beans to sprouting my beans. Why? Sprouting produces less gastric distress. Less gastric distress makes for happier short folk. Happier short folk who are willing to eat beans again without complaint.

Photo By Smitten With Kittens

Photo By Smitten With Kittens

Sprouting has the added benefit of turning the bean into a vegetable and making the carbohydrates less bioavailable for absorption. The book Chickpea Breeding and Management has information on these changes. They cite studies showing sprouting decreases the total carb content and the starch content, increases the dietary fiber and increases the digestibility.  So, for us, sprouting is an all-around win.

How to Sprout Beans

To sprout and cook beans, soak the beans in water overnight.  Drain thoroughly, then spread out in a colander or a berry basket and set on the counter to dry.  Cover with a towel if needed.  Rinse the beans 3-4 times a day for two to three days and drain thoroughly each time.  Discard them if mold or a sour smell develops. Depending on what type of bean you are soaking,

To cook, cover by one-inch of water or stock and bring to a gentle simmer and cook until tender.  Alternately, they can be cooked in your pressure cooker (not recommended) or your crock-pot.

This does take more planning and preparation, but I find the benefits outweigh that problem.  You can do the beans in large batches, and once they are cooked they can be frozen just like soaked and  cooked beans. That lets you keep them on hand and ready for inclusion in any meal you wish.

Edited to add:  Please note that you must cook kidney and cannellini beans in order to neutralize the toxins found in the raw bean.

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This post is part of Traditional Tuesdays here at CookingTF, Heart and Soul Blog Hop, Monday Mania, Pennywise Platter, What Cooking Wednesday and Happy Homemaker Monday.

Sprouting on Foodista

I'm KerryAnn Foster. I live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with my husband, Jeff, and our two kids, a teen and a tween. I blog here at Intentionally Domestic (formerly Cooking Traditional Foods). I blog about Paleo, beauty, health, family, homeschool and lifestyle for women in their 30s and beyond. I have over sixteen years of real food and natural lifestyle and health experience.

I am also an It Works! Global Triple Diamond Independent Distributor. I love that crazy wrap thing! I have been extremely happy with how the It Works Products have tightened up my loose skin and healed my stretch marks after losing 179 pounds and having a 10-pound baby.

Read about my journey to health through celiac disease, PCOS, food allergies, obesity, adrenal fatigue and heavy metals.
Categories : Beans, Best Of, Recipes


  1. Vioburn says:

    I love sprouted adzuki beans, but I haven’t tried any others. I’ll try sprouting my beans for the chili that we’re having later this week. Thanks!

    • KerryAnn says:

      We’re trying adzuki beans for the first time here. I sprouted them for this article, then my camera died. lol! I cooked them last night and we’ll be eating them tomorrow at lunch.

  2. Anna Tennis says:

    I’ve read that pretty much all varieties of beans are good candidates for sprouting except for black beans, which become toxic when sprouted. Do you know anything about this?

    • KerryAnn says:

      The Sprout People say you can sprout it. http://www.sproutpeople.com/seed/blackbean.html I know there’s an issue with kidney beans when undercooked, but I haven’t heard any problems with black beans. I’ll keep an eye out.

      • Anna Tennis says:

        I did a bit more research and remembered that I’d read a warning against consuming *raw* sprouted black beans. (This was years ago when I tried eating raw vegan. I lasted a week, during which time I kinda thought I was going to croak…)

  3. Claudia says:

    An excellent idea. Now if I can just plan ahead a bit.

  4. Alea Milham says:

    Fascinating! Only one member of my household has trouble with beans and it seems that kidney beans cause him the most trouble. I will have to give this a try and see if it reduces his reaction. Thanks for sharing this with the Hearth and Soul Hop.
    Alea Milham recently posted..Hearth and Soul Hop with Premeditated Leftovers

  5. Laura says:

    Why is a pressure cooker not recommended? I live at a higher altitude (over 6,000 ft) and sometimes that’s the only way I can get beans tender enough to eat (although maybe sprouting would change that too).

    • KerryAnn says:

      Nourishing Traditions and the Weston A Price Foundation recommend against them. I know from past experience if I mention it and don’t put that it isn’t recommended, I’ll be lynched and denigrated by some.

      Personally, I’ll tell you that I own and use both a pressure cooker and a pressure canner but I’m a Philistine like that. I don’t believe that home-canning and commercial canning are equal since they’re done at different pressures and temperatures, and I don’t see the same dangers with both. I don’t tow the party line on everything.

      If a pressure cooker is the only way you can get your beans to soften due to your altitude, I say go for it. Just know you’ll need to shorten the cooking time some because they do tend to cook faster than beans that have just been soaked. At least, they do at 2100 ft.

  6. KerryAnn says:

    Ah. Yes, I can imagine that raw, spouted beans would be very difficult on your system to digest.

  7. Jennie says:

    After reading this post, I began an experiment with black beans on Tuesday. It is Thursday now and I’m still waiting patiently for them to sprout! 🙂

    Questions: If I’m not able to use them right away, do I still need to cook them? Also, how would I store them, freezing, canning? I am running out of room in my freezer so storing my beans in the pantry would be better for me. Thanks for any advice.

  8. velcromom says:

    I came to the same conclusion about soaking beans last year and have been sprouting ever since. The only thing I do differently is to add salt to the soak water ever since I read of it in Cook’s Illustrated – it softens the skins which is especially helpful when I’m cooking beans out of my storage and they are a little bit older.

    Jennie, once they are sprouted you need to cook them and then freeze or can them. I love to can sprouted beans – I do freeze them also but started canning because of lack of freezer space. The canned beans are always so soft and creamy, and it’s really nice to be able to just dump them in a pan!

    • KerryAnn says:

      Yay!!! I’m glad to hear that canning them works. I know what I’ll be working on in May! lol

    • Rachel J says:

      I was always under the impression that salt caused the skins to not soften during cooking. I take it your experience indicates otherwise 🙂 That’s good to know because sometimes it seems like I can cook those older beans forever and they’re never very soft.

      • velcromom says:

        No salt during cooking – that rule still stands – only salt during the soaking time! Then rinse and cook without salt. 🙂

  9. Tina~ says:

    We soak and sprout all legumes. The bigger the bean the longer it takes to sprout, but once it’s sprouted it cooks much faster. I’ve read that pressure cooking isn’t recommended because it’s so hot/fast it denatures the foods a bit.

    Health, Home and Happiness has a great recipe for sprouted lentil burgers.
    We use that recipe with all sorts of beans- lentils, yellow and green split peas,
    black beans and navy beans. I tweak the recipe a bit- add cumin and chili spice for the black bean burgers, add dill and a couple of cans of salmon to make salmon patties with lentil or split pea etc. We’re gluten free so we use these as bread/crackers etc. I warm up a couple and melt cheese between for toasted cheese, spoon a bit of tomato sauce and garlic on and top with cheese to make mini pizzas etc… possibilities are endless!

    • KerryAnn says:

      I haven’t tried sprouting lentils yet. That’s my next project. I’ll have to check out that recipe and give it a whirl.

  10. KerryAnn says:

    Pop them in the fridge and cook them within 48 hours. You can store the cooked beans just as you would normally. I haven’t tried canning them yet, but they freeze just fine. If you try canning them, please let us know how it turns out. I’ll likely give it a whirl soon.

  11. Alisa says:

    I followed you from the foodie blog roll and I’d love to guide Foodista readers to your site. I hope you could add this sprouting widget at the end of this post so we could add you in our list of food bloggers who blogged about sprouting,Thanks!
    Alisa recently posted..Eat the Earth

    • KerryAnn says:

      I posted it. It looks like a great site! Thanks for stopping by and giving me a chance to join.

  12. Thank you for a really informative post. I have never really known where to start with dried beans, but now I do! Thank you for sharing this with the Hearth and Soul blog hop.

    • KerryAnn says:

      You’re welcome! Stay tuned, my next project is to use the sprouted beans to make baked goods. Look for posts on that in May.

  13. Have you ever used ajwain and epazote when cooking your beans? I posted on this. Do you wish for us to link to posts if they are relevant?

    I have only soaked my beans (either overnight or in the pressure cooker….yes, I know, not the best way), but I have never sprouted. How often do you find that they mold? And I guess I might have a problem with this if I have a problem w/ soaking grains?

    Adrienne @ Whole New Mom recently posted..Homemade Chocolate or Carob Chips

    • KerryAnn says:

      I tried to grow epazote last year in my garden and it didn’t fly. I really want to have some so I can try it with my beans. I’ve never heard of ajwain.

      Please post your links, I’d love to see them.

      Mold only happens here when they don’t get drained well enough. I might have it happen once every couple of months.

  14. Petra says:

    The last time I made a large batch of soaked (I didnt think of sprouting) pinto beans, I cooked them til tender and then DEHYDRATED them. Now I have an instant pinto bean and they rehydrate very quickly and they dont need to be refrigerated or canned. This is great for long term storage.

    • Sarah says:

      can you please give more details about dehydrating them? did you find instructions somewhere? i’ve been given a dehydrator but haven’t used it yet. thanks!

      • Petra says:

        I soak/cook like normal. Then I spread them out on my dehydrator trays and dry them overnight. The last batch I made were pinto beans and 2 cups of cooked pinto beans cooked equal 4 ounces by weight of dried which would be roughly equal to a can of store bought pinto beans. I just premeasure out 2 cups of cooked beans, then see how much that equals when they are dry.

        They do re-hydrate very quickly. I made white chicken chili and from start to finish using the dried cooked beans it was done in 20 minutes. Mind you my chicken was already cooked using leftovers from another meal.

        I got the idea from a food storage website. http://www.shelfreliance.com/instant-pinto-beans.html I figured if they sold them, I could easily make them. They take up no more room than dried uncooked beans and they dont take up any room in my freezer.

        Hope I answered your questions.

  15. Amanda says:

    I’m a bit confused. When you say “spread out in a colander” what do you mean? How many layers of beans would you have? I have a family of 7 so would be doing lots of beans. I soak already, but am interested in sprouting.

    • KerryAnn says:

      I use a wide, flatish colander. I push them up the sides and spread them around so they’re not stacked deep and air can circulate around them to dry between rinsings.

    • MELANIE says:

      You can also do it in a wide-mouth jar. I use a 2 quart jar, but would use a larger one if I had one. Fill the jar 1/3 full of beans, soak them overnight, drain and then put a screen (I use cheesecloth) inside the ring (instead of the metal lid). Tip it upside down and lean it slightly so the water drains out. Rinse every few hours, or at least twice a day until they sprout. That’s Sally Fallon’s method (from the Weston Price Foundation) out of her cookbook Nourishing Traditions (which I highly recommend, by the way). 🙂 I have 2 different kinds of beans sprouting right now.

  16. […] recommend you sprout your navy beans for this soup.  Sprouting drastically reduces the stomach discomfort that so many people associate […]

  17. Jen says:

    I find sprouted foods are more filling too.

    However, since we lean toward GAPS (my daughter is completely on GAPS) we use a lot of Navy beans. Those I just soak with baking soda and then cook very well in broth. As long as they are well cooked (read, easily mushy!) and I did the baking soda soak, we don’t notice anything side-effects-wise. That being said, I am ordering some epazote for when we do other beans. Sometimes if they are older they don’t sprout very well.

  18. […] pound dry small white beans, sprouted/soaked and cooked or 1 can 2-4 cups chicken stock 1 onion, 2 carrots and 2 stalks celery, diced 1 […]

  19. mjskit says:

    This is extremely interesting! I’ve never sprouted beans nor even thought of it. I am curious as to how it changes the texture and taste of the dried beans, so I guess I’m going to have to give it a try. I’ve switched from soaking my beans overnight to a 4 hour brine then pressure cook, and that, for some strange reason, seems to eliminate the gastric distress (I love that term 🙂 ) and yields a beautiful pot of beans. I cook at least 2 pots of beans a months, which for two people, provide a lot of meals! My next pot will be sprouted white beans. Thanks!
    mjskit recently posted..Caramel Apple Pie

  20. Bren says:

    When you say “soak the beans in water overnight”, is this in cold water? Warm? Hot?
    What do you mean by the sentence “Depending on what type of bean you are soaking,” does something come after that? If not, what depends on the type of bean?
    After 2-3 days of wrinsing and such, you know you are done when little sprouts are coming out of the beans I am assuming? Thanks, sorry for all the questions, I just want to be completely clear on everything before I put a bunch of time into it!

  21. […]   Print     Carrot Cake Bean Fudge 4 large carrots, peeled 1 1/2 cups sprouted or soaked and cooked navy beans or other white beans 2 Tbs crushed pineapple, squeezed to remove […]

  22. […] Why I No Longer Soak My Beans This post generated many comments and continues to be a very popular post. […]

  23. Islem says:

    This article actually made me take the plunge to sprout the lentils I had in my pantry, which I was originally planning to soak. My lentils already had their 12-hour soak; now is just draining, waiting to be rinsed again tonight. Thank you for this, KerryAnn. Would NOT have done it without you!!

  24. Bren says:

    My beans are sprouted and ready to use now, but I have a question- there were a few beans that were split in half. Some of the halves sprouted, some did not. All of the halves have become dark colored on the split side. Is this ok?

  25. Heather says:

    I’ve always sprouted my beans in a sprouting jar. I used to have a bird that I sprouted for and I had a whole bird sprouting kit. I put a few drops of bioflavinoids in the jar with the soaking water…then after soaking for 24 hours I invert the jar on a rack with a sprouting lid, and don’t touch it again until they are sprouted. It’s much less to mess with. The bioflavinoids I use are the ones that came with my bird food sprouting kit, but they are just grape seed extract.

    • Megan Paterson says:

      This is great info! When I try to sprout my beans, they sometimes go bad before they sprout. I have noticed that beans go bad really quickly. I have GSE on hand and I am going to try using a drop or so of this in the soaking water and see what happens. Boy! Would that save lots of trouble if it works!! Thanks so much for posting this!

  26. Megan Paterson says:

    I know sprouting the beans works, at least with lentils. My husband and I both had trouble with these beans but loved lentil soup and our favorite lentil salad. I tried sprouting them a little first and that was the trick. No more trouble at all!

  27. MPbusyB says:

    I have been sprouting seeds for salads for years. But last week I sprouted garbanzos for the first time to make my usual hummus recipe. Since I sprouted more than enough, I used the leftover sprouts in a big pot of Moroccan Chili. Needless to say, everyone loved both dishes. My dh, who has such a problem with 😉 gastric distress, suffered not at all. He even took the leftover chili with him to work the next day.

    So now I have sprouted a large batch of OG black beans getting them ready for canning which is how I found your blog, KA. I was searching the web to see if others had done it and to what success. Thanks for this post. So much good information from all the comments.

    BTW – a friend told me to use food grade hydrogen peroxide to prevent the stink of sprouting larger beans. Don’t know if that was the magic trick, but I did it this time thinking I can look into it more later. Maybe another has info on that angle.

    • KerryAnn says:

      I have also heard about using food grade H2O2 to prevent mold and nasties. I’m looking into it and I’ll post more once I know what I’m doing and have had a chance to try it out a few times.

      • Megan Paterson says:

        Did you ever get to trying the H2O2 with the beans. And what I have on hand is Grapefruit Seed Extract, not Grape Seed Extract. I don’t know that much about either one. I would think that salt in the soaking water would do the trick as well but I don’t know for sure. Just a guess.

        I am going to try to can my sprouted beans and see what happens. I am also going to try to dehydrate the sprouted beans too and see how we like those.

        I just have LOTS of dried beens in storage that I need to do something with. I think I over bought a little!

        • KerryAnn says:

          Salt in the beans isn’t a good idea because salt makes beans harden. You’ll never get them tender enough to eat if you soak them with salt.

          I haven’t been able to afford food grade H2O2 yet, so I haven’t had a chance to experiment. I’ve heard of others who have canned sprouted beans with success. And I’ve met some who have ground dehydrated, sprouted beans into flour and had it work ok, too.

          • Mpbusy says:

            KA – Since the last post, I have sprouted several batches of beans, peas, berries and seeds. All w/o the H2O2. I think if you use a large colander or strainer that permits plenty of air flow, you don’t have the stink problem.

            If you are interested in having a bottle on hand, Something Better Natural Foods sells a pint for about $8.

            Just finished a bowl of cooked sprouted garbanzos with leftover rice pilaf. Oh, so good.

          • bren says:

            On the topic of beans stinking, rotting, etc, I have found that in the summer i can not sprout because they ALWAYS go rancid from sitting out too long in the varying temperatures of my kitchen, which is the hottest room in the house in the summer as it is. Fruit flies also get to them! Once it gets cold outside I can sprout without a problem!

  28. earthmama says:

    Sigh….. I forgot that I was going to sprout this time instead of soaking as I do in the summer. So, I put the beans in near boiling water, then remembered after they had been sitting a few hours that I had planned on sprouting them! I tried it anyway after they had sat about 12hrs soaking, and they did not sprout after 3 days of rinsing. So I am guessing the near boiling hot water temp killed them so they were unable to sprout! I’ve sprouted my beans several times before, so I know I did everything else right. Guess I’ll be making chili again next week!!

  29. Angelica Preston says:

    Thanks! I tweak the recipe a bit- add cumin and chili spice for the black bean burgers, add dill and a couple of cans of salmon to make salmon patties with lentil or split pea etc. All of the halves have become dark colored on the split side.

  30. Brenda Blair says:

    That being said, I am ordering some epazote for when we do other beans. I will!

  31. Lesa Barlow says:

    After 2-3 days of wrinsing and such, you know you are done when little sprouts are coming out of the beans I am assuming? lol! BTW – a friend told me to use food grade hydrogen peroxide to prevent the stink of sprouting larger beans. The last batch I made were pinto beans and 2 cups of cooked pinto beans cooked equal 4 ounces by weight of dried which would be roughly equal to a can of store bought pinto beans.

    • KerryAnn says:

      Lesa, you want the tails to be about 1/3 of the length of the bean. Food grade hydrogen peroxide can be awesome for beans that are prone to mold, I do use it myself on the long-sprouting beans, any beans that aren’t organic or any of those I question might not be top quality to help guard against mold forming.

  32. Karthik says:

    Thanks so much for the update on sprouting beans. i tried it out with kidney beans and came out quite delicious if i may say so. My family enjoyed it as they were also tender. Thanks again for this post and helpful information to once again enjoying beans
    Karthik recently posted..Free Food Delivery in Salt Lake City

  33. […] 1/2 cups sprouted or soaked cooked chickpeas or white beans, drained and rinsed 1/8 tsp salt dash baking soda 2 tsp […]


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