Baking Soda and Dried Beans?

There are many old wives tales surrounding the use of baking soda in soaking or cooking dried beans. Many older recipes call for baking soda, touting all kinds of benefits from eliminating gas, retaining color, speeding cooking or softening beans by increasing the alkalinity. Deposits all the old-time claims, there is no scientific proved benefit to adding baking soda. It will, however, leave the beans with a slightly slimy mouth-feel and a soapy aftertaste.


Modern cooking methods avoid the use of baking soda because it destroys pepsin and interferes with your digestion. Baking soda destroys important nutrients and vitamins, and even as little as 1/8 teaspoon per cup of beans may destroy thiamine (Vitamin B1).

Cooking Beans in Hard Water

Try to avoid hard water to cook beans. If you consistently have problems cooking beans to the desired tenderness within specified cooking times, you may have hard water. Hard water contains lots of minerals and it causes a chalky white or gray spots or residue on the inside of your cookware whenever you boil water. This is caused by high concentrations of minerals, like calcium and magnesium, which interferes with chemical and physical changes that are supposed to occur in beans during soaking and cooking and destroys the nutrient value. The same rule applies to not adding ingredients like molasses during cooking because it is high in calcium.

How much of a problem this is depends on how hard your water is. In some rare cases beans simply won't cook, and if you're having a great deal of trouble getting dried beans to cook properly, buy purified bottled drinking water not distilled water for soaking and cooking beans.



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