To Soak or Not to Soak…That is the Question.


Dry beans…do you soak them and if so, a hot soak or a cold soak? People often ask whether beans can be cooked without soaking first. I’ve been reading a few articles on the subject and thought I would put the theory to the test. I decided to test three different varieties of dry beans: garbanzos, large lima beans and black-eyes. All are different shapes and sizes and cook at different times.

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I first sorted and rinsed in clean water 1/2 cup each of the dry beans and put them in separate saucepans with enough water to cover the beans plus 1 inch. After the water had started to boil, I reduced the heat to a slow simmer. The black-eyes were the first ones to cook at about 35 minutes. The second were the garbanzos at 45 minutes, and third were the large limas at 60 minutes. These cooking times will vary, but the result was that you don’t need to soak the beans first to get a nicely cooked bean.

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The second batch I sorted and divided into individual bowls, the beans covered with water plus 2 inches. I soaked them overnight and cooked them in the morning. All were cooked in the same saucepans as the unsoaked beans the day before. The garbanzos were the first ones done at about 35 minutes, second were the black-eyes at about 45 minutes, and the large limas clocked in at 70 minutes. The texture of all the cooked beans were the same whether they were soaked or unsoaked.


Conclusion: I like both ways. If you have always soaked your beans, try not soaking them and see if you like that method better and visa verse. I always feel there is never a right or wrong way to cook beans, just cook them the way you like and don’t be afraid to experiment!