Can You Soak Beans For Too Long? What the Research Says

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:

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  1. Adding vinegar or lemon juice to the water will lower the ph and raises the acidity. Perhaps that is what you meant.

    PS: I soaked my beans for a little more than 24 hrs and there are quite a lot of clusters of bubbles/foam on the surface. I rinsed them but they still have a mild cheesy smell. I guess they are toast.

  2. Thanks for the info! I usually soak them 2 days on the counter and change the water morning and evening. No gas . I will try the vinegar next time. Going to keep them in the freezer now.

  3. What if you’ve left your beans to soak in a large plastic bowl almost two bag fulls, over 100 hours, I would say that would be like 4 days maybe? I tried just a little but my stomach is killing me, so do you think that’s what did it?

    • Did you cook the beans after soaking them that long? They still need to be cooked. And, if you did cook them, the stomach troubles could be because the sugars in the beans started to ferment.


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