Another Thought on Why We Soak Beans

We’re harvesting Yellow Indian Woman beans and I decided to have a little party in this fine legume’s honor. I irritated my bean farmer and had him give me 5 pounds of unmilled beans. This means they are right out of the ground, a romantic concept until you realize you have to look long and hard for organic debris that is inevitably mixed in with the beans.

I will tell you now that 5 pounds is a lot of beans to sort through but there is almost nothing worse when eating a beautiful bowl of heirloom beans than biting into a rock or dirt clod.

I did this early in the day and it’s kind of amazing how much dirt is there. I find the best way to do it is on a sheet pan. I didn’t find any rocks but clods of dirt were plentiful.

These beans were two weeks old and really, soaking was 100% unnecessary. Something in me said to go ahead and do it as with a little soaking, these dirt bombs would disintegrate and could be rinsed away with the soaking water. I started thinking that maybe this is partly why old timers insisted on soaking their beans. These bits of dirt were very sneaky and seemed determined to stay, even with my eagle eyes.

You must check your commercial beans and rinse them but these days it’s not likely you’ll find much. But the thought of a bite of dirt should be enough inspiration to keep checking and maybe soak.

5 Comments on Another Thought on Why We Soak Beans

  1. EXACTLY!!! There is a lotta dirt in them thar’ beans!

  2. Cooks faster

  3. It’s the inorganic debris, like rocks, that are the problem, not organic.

    • I’m not sure what your point is. Soaking would help catch missed dirt clods but it wouldn’t help with rocks. If there are no rocks, or they were caught, and there were dirt clods, soaking would help.
      Either way, it’s not really a problem with commercially cleaned beans.

  4. For this method then you would have to toss the soaking water. Steve do you still advocate for saving the soaking water and cooking the beans in it in general?

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