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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Why should I soak dried beans and then discard the soaking water?

Please tell me why the package instructions on dried beans say to soak, rinse, and drain the soaking water?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

dried white beans in a wooden bowl

Beans that you purchase have been dried. As such, they need to be reconstituted with water. The easy method is to soak the beans overnight and then drain and rinse. If you are in a hurry you can boil the water and add your beans. Let them boil for two minutes and then remove the pan from the heat and let stand for an hour for smaller beans like split peas. For larger ones it might take a couple of hours. Drain and rinse.

The main reason for draining and rinsing is that when the beans are dried they will often have bits of dust and dirt. I like to drain and rinse through a colander because the grit is more likely to rinse through the small holes where a mesh strainer would trap larger particles.

Thanks for writing.

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet