Can You Over Soak Beans? What the Research Says

Last Updated: May 9, 2022

Dry beans are an excellent emergency food as they are full of nutrition and easily stored. Despite this, they must be prepared correctly to get the full benefits. 

Here’s what you need to know about soaking beans.

Can You Over Soak Beans?

Yes, it is possible to oversoak beans. If left to soak too long, they can grow harmful bacteria.

Even if they are still safe to eat, soaking beans too long can deplete their nutrient content. Because of this, it is best to soak beans no longer than 12-24 hours at room temperature or 2 days in the fridge.

You Should Always Soak Beans Before Cooking

Not only does soaking beans reduce cooking time, but it makes them easier to digest. Beans contain indigestible carbohydrates and antinutrients.

Soaking beans breaks these down, making them less likely to cause indigestion and gassiness. Research shows that, for best results, you should also toss the soak water before cooking.

But Soaking Beans Too Long Can Cause Bacterial Growth

Beans left to soak too long can start to grow harmful bacteria. You might even be able to see or smell it: there will be bubbles on the surface of the water and a foul, sour odor. 

How long does it take for soaking beans to go bad? It varies, but to play it safe, don’t soak beans for more than:

  • 12 hours at room temperature
  • 24 hours at room temperature if you change the water every 6-8 hours
  • 2 days in the refrigerator

Soaking Time and Nutrient Levels of Beans

Another downside of over-soaking beans is that it can deplete nutrients. 

Magnesium, for example, is leached from beans as they soak. This usually isn’t a big concern but could be if you are in a situation where every bit of nutrition is essential.

Top Tip: Add vinegar or lemon juice to the soak water to increase the pH of the water. Studies show that this helps break down antinutrients in beans while simultaneously improving mineral absorption.

Will Soaking Too Long Make Beans Mushy?

Some chefs say that soaking too long will also cause the texture of the beans to get mushy. However, mushy beans are more likely to occur from over-cooking and not over-soaking.

If you’ve left your beans to soak for a long time, they likely don’t need to cook as long. Make sure you check on them frequently while cooking to avoid them getting mushy.

Also read: How to Store Beans Long Term

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