Listed as a highly nutritious food, beans are rich in dietary fiber, protein, carbohydrates, iron, folate, etc. While some of them can be cooked directly, others need to be soaked beforehand. Apart from reducing the cooking time, soaking makes the beans easily digestible. It is also claimed that soaked beans contain low level of phytic acid (as compared to the raw version), which can hinder absorption of minerals inside the body. It is a common fact that some types of beans, like lentils, mung beans, or split peas, do not require soaking, and can be cooked directly after rinsing. However, the bigger ones, like red beans, chickpeas, and navy beans have to be soaked. Basically, beans can be soaked in two different ways.
Long Soak Method
According to this method, the beans have to be rinsed and soaked in water for at least eight hours. It will be much better to soak the beans overnight. However, if soaked for more than 12 hours, the beans may lose its texture and flavor. Make sure to keep enough water for the beans to remain submerged for the whole soaking period. This is very important, as they get enlarged by absorbing water, thereby reducing the water level. Before cooking the soaked beans, discard the water used for soaking. You may also rinse the beans thoroughly.
Quick Soak Method
The second method is the quick method, wherein the beans are rinsed and added to boiling water. They are allowed to boil for a few minutes. After that, they are removed from heat, and kept aside for at least an hour. Make sure to cover the vessel, while the beans get soaked. They can be cooked after an hour. This is one of the easiest and convenient methods of soaking beans. You may also keep the beans soaked for another two to three hours. If long soak method can breakdown 60% of the complex sugars (responsible for flatulence), it is above 80% in quick soak method. To prevent flatulence, this method is said to be more beneficial.
Hot Soak Method
In this method, the rinsed beans are boiled with large amounts of water (around 10 cups of water for 2 cups of beans). They are boiled for a few minutes and removed from heat. The pot is covered and kept aside for one hour or more. The water is discarded, and the soaked beans are rinsed. After that, the beans are added to a pot of cold water, along with one or two teaspoons of oil and salt. They are cooked on medium heat. Soaking beans in salt water is also said to be beneficial for cutting down the cooking time. It is also said that such soaked beans will not have wrinkles on them. However, beans soaked in salt water may not have the soft, creamy texture, after cooking. Some people try soaking beans in baking soda solution to prevent flatulence. This is not usually recommended.