Importance of Soaking

Have you ever soaked your beans or rice prior to cooking them? If you are starting with dry beans it is the way to go! When you soak your beans you get many benefits, less gas, more nutrients, and a clean product!

Many think the main reason to soak beans is to minimize gas, and while it’s true that soaking does help to remove the indigestible complex sugars (oligosaccharides) from the outer coating of the beans, it’s certainly not the primary reason to soak.

Probably the most important reason for soaking is that it allows shorter cooking times, and that preserves the most nutrients, so you get the benefits of all the proteins, vitamins and minerals in the beans and maximize their food value. According to the California Dry Bean Advisory Board, there’s no need to worry that soaking is going to remove the proteins, enzymes or other nutrients that are stored within the beans.

If your family’s nutrition isn’t enough to convince you to soak those beans, here’s another convincing argument; Beans are dirty!

You also get way more for your money! Dry beans are economical and if you have a family to feed you are not buying three cans half filled with beans.  If it is just you and/or a partner you can freeze the beans once are done cooking. I have a family of four and make enough to have left overs in the fridge and freezer!

An added layer of nutrients I choose to put into my beans that also guarantees the beans turn out perfect every time is KOMBU. Kombu is a sea vegetable, type of kelp. It is very thick and full of amazing goodies!

Check out this article from the Washington Post KOMBU.

Eden Kombu Sea Vegetable

You will need:

*2 cups beans ( pinto, kidney, black, garbonzo (chickpea), navy, etc)

*4 inch strip of Kombu

* bowl for soaking

*filtered water to cover the beans

*tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice

Cover the two cups of dry beans with filtered water. Add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice.  Pour out water and rinse after 4-6 hours and then when you see foam on the top of the water, icky stuck from beans. It needs to soak for 24 hours but can sit up to 48 hours.

You can cook the beans in a pot on the stovetop, in a slow cooker, in an oven safe dish in the oven, or a pressure cooker (my favorite choice).

Rinse your beans and put into the cooking vessel of choice. Add the Kombu and filtered water to cover the beans. I choose to add diced onions, garlic cloves, and cumin usually. DO NOT ADD SALT! It will result in tough beans. Always add salt after the cooking process.

Slow-cooker will take several hours, stovetop: bring to a boil then simmer with lid on for an hour to an hour and a half, if you are using the pressure cooker bring to a boil and put on lid, reduce heat to low and cook for 45 minutes.

The juice of the beans will have many nutrients due to the Kombu. You can take the Kombu out and throw it away or cut it up/stir it into the beans. It will have very little flavor at this point but will still be be a powerhouse of nutrients. If you just want the beans you can reserve the juice/liquid and use it in soups. It should be fairly thick since Kombu acts as a thickening agent with liquids.

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