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How to soften legumes in a short time

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How to make express soak of beans; reduce cooking time and cause less gas

Soaking beans promotes better digestion and absorption of their nutrients.

Photo: Ariel Núñez Guzmán / Pixabay

There are several reasons for soaking legumes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas and others. It is recommended that they remain in water between four and eight hours and rinse them before cooking, because:

1. They reduce their cooking time.

2. They reduce the propensity to cause bloating and flatulence. Soaking reduces oligosaccharides, which are broken down through bacterial fermentation and in some people cause gas in the digestive tract.

3. They are digested easier and there is better absorption of nutrients. Soaking dried legumes for several hours brings them back to life by activating their enzymes. Too antinutrients are reduced (phytates, lectins, saponins and glucosinolates) capable of blocking the absorption of nutrients such as iron, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, calcium and iodine.

The most common way to soften dried beans is by soaking them in room temperature water. Water initially enters the bean through the hilum, or scar, where the bean attached to the pod’s stem and will then begin to soak into the shell. Legumes with thinner layers, like lentils or peas, they will soften faster than those with thicker membranes.

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If for some reason you did not soak your legumes hours in advance, here are some tips for an express soak.

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Quick soak

The hotter the water, the faster the bean will absorb it.

  1. Rinse the beans several times and discard any that float.
  2. In a large pot, cover the beans with 4 cups of water for each cup of beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 2 to 10 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat, cover and let it rest for an hour.
  4. Rinse and your beans are ready to use in your favorite recipes.

In microwave. Heat the beans and water together until the water is boiling, and then let them soak for about an hour to an hour and a half.

Some beans resist softening even if you soak them overnight and simmer them for many hours. This may be due to their age or because they were not stored under ideal conditions.

Ideally, you should store your legumes in an airtight container in a cool, dark and dry place. Do not wash until just before use.

Cooking old beans

  1. Let them soak overnight. Then, if you think they might be tough even after soaking:
  2. Bring them to a boil in water, turn off the heat, and add a little less than half a teaspoon of baking soda for every 3 cups of water (3 cups of water for 1 cup of beans).
  3. Rinse, cover again with water and cook as usual.
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If your beans are still tough with the above steps, cooking them in a pressure cooker can finish the job.

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