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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KerryAnn Foster runs Intentionally Domestic, formerly Cooking Traditional Foods.  Intentionally Domestic is the home of the longest running real food meal plan on the internet, now in its eighth volume.

KerryAnn has over eleven years of real food experience.  Read about KerryAnn’s journey to health through multiple miscarriages, celiac disease, PCOS, food allergies and intolerances, obesity, adrenal fatigue and heavy metals. She is also an It Works! Independent Distributor and she loves that crazy wrap thing!

Founded in 2005, we help you feed your family nourishing foods they will love.  With two choices of Menu Mailers, multiple eBooks, Print Books and video-based classes, KerryAnn makes real food easy, accessible, affordable and family friendly for everyone.

KerryAnn founded Nourished Living Network, a network for traditional food and natural living bloggers, in 2011. NLN provides support, publicity and networking opportunities for bloggers all across the traditional foods spectrum. Our Recipe Gallery features recipes from the fifty member blogs and growing.



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

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.


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