Soaking beans
April 2, 2020 7:28 AM   Subscribe

Food safety question: okay to eat black beans that were soaked on the counter 15-16 hours? Usually we soak about 6-8 hours but forgot to cook earlier. Started around 830 last night, it’s about 10am now. Room temp is 68-70ish.

Really don’t want to risk food poisoning right now but also don’t want to waste food! Internet is inconclusive. Will cook in the instant pot. Forgot to smell before rinsing but the dregs in the bowl smell normal.
posted by john_snow to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Sorry, that’s more like 13-14 hours. Ugh, my brain.
posted by john_snow at 7:30 AM on April 2, 2020

I would cook and use without another thought - though I'm presuming that they were dried before and will now be cooked til edible. I routinely leave mine out from about that time of an evening til the next afternoon.
posted by london explorer girl at 7:34 AM on April 2, 2020 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I can't see this being an issue given that a lot of people habitually soak beans overnight (which is close enough to 13-14 hours in my book) even if the beans don't need to be soaked for that long. I also found an article where the author claims that soaking beans for even longer (24hrs) improves the digestive impact of the beans.

I've known people who over-soaked chickpeas for several days to the point where they went bad, and they had very obviously gone bad when this happened (extremely foamy, didn't smell good). Given that your dregs smell normal, I strongly suspect your beans are good to eat.
posted by terretu at 7:35 AM on April 2, 2020 [7 favorites]

I frequently soak dried black beans for 24 hours.
posted by pilot pirx at 7:38 AM on April 2, 2020 [3 favorites]

posted by Max Power at 7:40 AM on April 2, 2020

Response by poster: Pilot pirx, in the fridge or on the counter?
posted by john_snow at 7:41 AM on April 2, 2020

Best answer: I too have soaked beans for 24 hours, un-refrigerated, with no ill efects.
posted by pipeski at 7:45 AM on April 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Same here, I've soaked beans for over 12 hours with no problem. I think they should be good to go, especially as they'll get very well cooked through in the instant pot.
posted by essexjan at 7:46 AM on April 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Sure, just give them a good rinse first.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:53 AM on April 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: All my life, the process for my beans has been put in water on the counter and then forget about them, when you remember them some time the next day, cook them.

Double checked with another friend and she said also, "Yeah, forgetting they are there is an important step in the recipe"
posted by magnetsphere at 7:58 AM on April 2, 2020 [53 favorites]

I'd cook & eat them without a second thought.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:13 AM on April 2, 2020

I’d eat ‘em!

(I also stopped soaking after most of my favorite food writers say they don’t.)
posted by amaire at 8:21 AM on April 2, 2020

Best answer: Soaking beans up to 24 hours is not dangerous, although there is no need to soak beans nearly that long. In fact, soaking this long does have a tendency to activate the beans' sprouting mechanism which can result in beans that never seem to soften fully even after extended cooking. Generally speaking, dried beans will absorb about 50% of their total weight in cool water within two hours, and absorb another 50% within 10 hours or so. However, complete hydration can be achieved in 2-3 hours if you boil the beans for around 2 minutes and then soak them in cool water. This is because the blanching thoroughly hydrates the seed coat, which allows water to pass into the bean more rapidly. In any event, some kinds of dry bean, including black beans, don't need to be soaked at all and are better if they are cooked directly from dry. Beans cooked in a pressure cooker typically don't need to be soaked.
posted by slkinsey at 8:26 AM on April 2, 2020 [8 favorites]

Seconded - I make a batch of black beans every week without soaking, about 30-35 minutes under pressure will cook them perfectly.
posted by Gortuk at 10:03 AM on April 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Adding to the pile-on; I did exactly the same thing with chickpeas a few weeks back and then cooked them in the crockpot with no ill effects.
posted by Recliner of Rage at 10:07 AM on April 2, 2020

Best answer: I recently left black beans soaking for 2.5 days. Internet research consistently showed that they would be safe to eat once cooked, although the flavor would be effected. I cooked them and ate them. They weren't the tastiest beans -- they tasted sort of green and plantish -- but they were fine and there were no ill health effects.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 10:12 AM on April 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Did the same with red beans 2 weeks ago. No sweat; your beans will be delicious and edible, and no more or less musical than ever, I'd wager.

P.S. take a couple beans out and try planting them if you have a spare pot, since you went ahead and sprouted them. Bean plant will make a nice souvenir of your quarantine, and it is Springtime, technically, so it's the right time.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:27 AM on April 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

Soaking beans is said to make beans more digestible (and undoubtedly the opposite is said too). I can't vouch for that myself but I always soak overnight and discard the water. It does sorta stand to reason that in preparation to sprout that a bean would "want to" break down some of its more complex carbohydrates.
posted by sjswitzer at 10:55 AM on April 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It would never have occurred to me to soak them in the refrigerator, soak them for less time, or really do anything other than what you've done. Eat and enjoy!
posted by jesourie at 11:04 AM on April 2, 2020

Best answer: Counter! Covered.
posted by pilot pirx at 11:23 AM on April 2, 2020

I do this all the time too with no ill effects. I always rinse them well before and after.

In fact, soaking this long does have a tendency to activate the beans' sprouting mechanism which can result in beans that never seem to soften fully even after extended cooking.


I got a question answered that i didn't even know i had. I wondered why sometimes the damn beans were not tender after all day cooking sometimes. I assumed i was somehow deficient in my cooking methods!
posted by domino at 12:24 PM on April 2, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks all! Cooked and in the fridge for a future meal. Good to know long soaking can impact the softness!

I know soaking is not required but we eat beans 3-5 times a week and definitely find them more digestible when soaked.
posted by john_snow at 12:48 PM on April 2, 2020

You'll know if you shouldn't. You'll be able to smell fermentation, or see suspicious froth. But beans are supposed to survive being rehydrated and then germinate, so they are designed to go through this process without going bad or dying.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:09 PM on April 2, 2020

I agree with the consensus that the answer is yes, you can eat them, but out of curiosity did you put salt in the water to get a brining effect?

For one thing, generous salting will discourage spoilage (and probably sprouting, I'd guess). For another, it improves flavor. For black beans and other beans with thin skins - you know, the kind who just can't take a little fart joke - the recommendations for soaking and salting are mixed, with Rancho Gordo, KLA and others saying don't soak for best flavor, but for most beans, a briney soak is a good thing. For example ATK recommends 3 tablespoons for a pound of beans - I usually use 4. Dump the water and then use less than a tablespoon of salt (sometimes especially for a hard bean like a garbanzo I put just a pinch of baking soda in the soaking liquid, which makes the beans softer, and the just a teensy dash of something acidic like vinegar which generally makes beans too hard, but here balances out the effect of a long soak and the baking soda to prevent prevents mushiness) and then cook as planned.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 7:46 AM on April 3, 2020

« Older Power me up! Acer laptop adapter needed -but which...   |   Calorie tracker for those who eat actual food? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.