Beans have always been a staple ingredient in diets across the world. They are plant-based, healthy, easy to cook, tasty, and full of nutritional goodness!
With vegan diets growing more and more popular, there has been an increase in bean-based meals as well.
Not only are they tasty and nutritional, but they are extremely diverse as well. Beans come in many shapes, sizes, and flavors, meaning there is a type of bean to suit just about anyone! Whether it be baked beans, kidney beans, black beans or green beans, they all have their benefits and they are all a delicious source of fiber and protein.
Although beans are a plant, the different varieties mean they also come in many forms. Typically people usually eat fresh beans or canned beans, but one of the cheapest and easiest form of beans to access is actually dried beans.
Although tinned beans are quick to prepare and cook, dried beans are not far off, they just take a little soaking. However, once soaked, the difficulty can come when knowing how to store these if you do not plan to use them all.
In this article, I am going to tell you not only the best ways to store your soaked beans so that you can enjoy them for as long as possible. But I will also tell you how to know when your beans are no longer good to eat!
Table of Contents
- How to Store Soaked Beans
- Why Discard the Soaking Water?
- How Long Should I Soak Beans For?
- How to Store Cooked Beans
- Storing Soaked Beans – Final Thoughts
How to Store Soaked Beans
When it comes to storing your soaked, uncooked beans you can do this with or without the soaking water. Storing them with the soaking water will help them to last longer and is slightly less time-consuming in the process.
If you have used a quick soaking method then you need to make sure that the beans are entirely cooled to room temperature before you go into storing them. If this is not done, the warmth can be an incredible breeding ground for bacteria and can make your beans unsafe to cook.
Storing Beans without the Soaking Water
Once you have soaked your beans, if you desire to store them without the soaking water then just simply drain the water from the beans and thoroughly dry them.
Once they are dry, pop them in an airtight container and store this in the refrigerator. These beans, if stored correctly, will last for about 4 to 5 days. However, if you wish to keep them for longer then you can put them in the freezer instead, in their airtight container. They will last for a few months there.
If you decide to freeze them, ensure you keep them in the airtight container. Alternatively, you can use a freezer bag with all of the air squeezed out.
If you are planning on freezing your beans however, it is a lot easier to cook them before freezing. This means they are ready to go as soon as you take them out of the freezer. You don’t need to worry about undercooking them when added to the meal. You simply need to make sure they have just defrosted.
Drying the beans correctly is an important step. This prevents the beans from getting mushy and keeps them separated instead of forming one piece of bean mush. You can also place them on a paper towel within the airtight container. This will ensure that any excess water and liquid is absorbed.
Alternatively, you can choose to cook the beans once they have been soaked. This means that they are ready to go whenever you choose to eat them. Cooking them all at once saves you the hassle of cooking them in separate batches. Once cooked you can also store them together.
I will explain how to store cooked beans later on if this is something you would prefer to do.
Storing Beans with the Soaking Water
Alternatively, to save the effort of draining the beans, you can soak your uncooked beans and then go on to store them with the water.
If you decide to do this, you need to ensure you change the water every 12 hours. This prevents bacteria from building up in the water as you will see it begins to get quite dirty over time.
You can also add a splash of vinegar to the water. This helps prevent the development of bacteria without altering the flavor of the beans in any noticeable way.
If you plan to soak your beans for longer than 24 hours, it is important to keep the beans soaking in an airtight container. It should also be inside the refrigerator. Keeping your beans at room temperature, particularly in the summer, will cause bacteria to grow at a rapid rate. They will not only make the beans turn a soft and weird consistency, but will also give them a bad taste.
Beans that become too warm will begin to ferment, as mentioned above, and can also begin sprouting. Although fermented beans are not entirely unsafe to eat, they do have a bad flavor. The taste can ruin your meal if it is not expected.
Cold temperatures are the key to preventing fermentation. Your beans will be able to soak in the refrigerator for around 3 to 4 days, as opposed to 24 to 48 hours if left on the counter.
When you decide to cook your beans, you simply need to remove the water and add them to your dish.
This method is preferable if you are using the beans within a short time-frame. The water helps to lock in their flavor. However, storing them without water is a lot more useful if you plan to use the beans at a later date as this enables you to freeze them.
Why Discard the Soaking Water?
Almost all recipes and guides to soaking beans will tell you to discard the soaking water and cook them in new water. This seems odd, as you would expect the soaking water to contain some of the flavors of the beans and so many people continue to use this when cooking.
However, fresh water can help to reduce the cooking time. It will heat up better and will distribute the heat more evenly.
Further to this, using fresh water to cook your beans will help to make your beans more digestible. Beans contain certain sugars that can cause us to have excessive gas. The soaking water holds these sugars, meaning that they are then transferred into our meals.
These indigestible sugars are typically released during the soaking phase, and so when you [ut the soaking water in the trash, you also remove these sugars.
Although many people argue against this, it makes more sense to be safe than sorry if you have taken the time to soak the beans already, and so using fresh water is something I would always do when going on to cook my soaked beans.
How Long Should I Soak Beans For?
Soaking beans is done before cooking as it drastically reduces the cooking time of the beans and makes them usable in all types of foods, instead of only in foods that are going to be cooking for a very long time.
Ideally you should soak your beans for around 8 to 12 hours. This means that they will soften enough to be able to cook very quickly.
Anything less than 8 hours will mean that your beans will need a noticeably longer cooking time when added to meals.
Anything more than 12 hours may cause your beans to go mushy. This is because they will absorb too much water and as a result they will also begin to lose flavor.
In spite of this, many people soak their beans for a lot longer, and as mentioned above, you can soak beans for up to 48 hours at room temperature and for up to 4 days in a refrigerator.
Because beans come in many varieties, each batch of beans will be different, even if it is the same type of bean. This is important to keep in mind and so you should always check your beans before you cook them to ensure they haven’t started to go bad.
How to Tell if My Soaked Beans Have Gone Bad
It is easy to tell when your beans start to go bad. The fermentation process will cause not only sprouting on some occasions, but will also release a very horrible smell. If you are concerned, simply rinse your beans and give them a smell and you will be able to tell instantly if they are bad.
Not only do they smell bad, but they will also appear more slimy. The appearance can be a good indicator, however, sometimes beans will begin to sprout when soaking and this does not mean they have gone bad. Sprouting beans will not smell or taste bad and are still safe to eat. Sprouted beans are also a lot more digestible to eat than unsprouted beans so can actually be a bonus if you do not mind their appearance!
If you are worried, simply look out for a slimy texture and bad smell.
Although fermented beans are safe to eat, they will ruin your meals as the bad smell and taste will transfer to the rest of the food. Because of this, it is definitely best to avoid them.
Finally, if the soaking water has started to go foamy, this is a clear indication of not only fermented beans, but rotten beans. At this point you should throw them in the trash.
How to Store Cooked Beans
As mentioned previously in the article, it may be easier to cook some beans before storing them. This is particularly the case when it comes to freezing them.
You can cook your beans in their sauce and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days, which means you then just simply need to reheat the dish. This will obviously depend on what the rest of the meal contains.
Similarly, if you make a big batch of something and do not want to eat it all that week, you can freeze the leftovers and have at a later date. Reheating cooked beans is a lot easier than uncooked beans.
This is because cooking frozen beans is a long process, and although they may appear defrosted, this does not mean they are properly cooked through and so they can end up being undercooked and hard in your meals.
Storing Soaked Beans – Final Thoughts
Storing your soaked beans can really depend on how you want to use them and when you want to use them.
If you plan to use your soaked beans within a few days then your best option is to refrigerate them either in their water, or drained. If you do not have the time to change the water every 12 hours, you should simply remove the soaked beans from the water. Thoroughly dry them, and then pop them in a container to use.
Alternatively you can store your soaked beans in the freeze (without their water) and they will be good for a few months. If you do plan to use them a few months later then it is recommended to cook them before freezing so that they are ready to go!
To use your beans more instantly, you can soak them at room temperature but be sure to not leave this for too long!
If your beans go bad, they will develop a bad smell and slimy texture – this is the point to throw them out!
So, if dried beans are something you plan to start using, then be sure to follow these simple steps to storing them once you have let them soak, and you will be able to enjoy them for up to a few months!
We’ve also got an article on storing raw chicken, if you’re interested!
Is it OK to soak beans for two days?
You can soak beans for up to 4 days if refrigerated and the water is changed every 12 hours. anything over 12 hours may cause the beans to go mushy, and if the water is not changed then the beans may start to ferment so just make sure you keep an eye on them.
How long can you soak beans before they spoil?
8 to 12 hours if the ideal amount of time to soak beans. However, you can soak beans for up to a few days if they are refrigerated.
Do you have to cook soaked beans right away?
No. You can store soaked beans with or without the water in a refrigerator. Alternatively, you can drain them and store them in the freezer for a few months.