To soak or not to soak? When it comes to Instant Pot Beans, we’ve got all the answers you need right here.
There is no end to the argument about soaking beans vs. not soaking them. And, in the end, the choice is yours. However, I have a strong opinion and I’ll admit that it’s changed over the past few years.
Spoiler, in the IP bean recipes I have here on TheCookful, I soak the beans ahead of time. In the Instant Pot, soaked beans retain their shape better meaning you get less bean blowouts and give a more even cooking to the beans.
But beyond texture, soaking your beans also makes them easier to digest. This may not be an issue for you, but if even one member of your family tends to get gassy or have a tummy ache after eating beans – soaking will help their issues.
Effect Of Soaking Beans On Flavor Vs. Digestion
According to Steve Sando of RanchoGordo.com, and heirloom bean fame, Mexicans tend to not soak their beans before cooking and neither does he.
He has a point that when you pour the soaking water out, you do lose out on some of the bean’s natural flavor. But if you or anyone you cook for is sensitive to eating beans or other fiber-full foods, soaking may still be the best answer for you.
You should remember that we are going to be flavoring the beans with herbs, spices, sauces, etc. in our recipes, so we are not relying on the full bean flavor to carry our dishes.
If you look at traditional Indian recipes not only are all the beans soaked, so are lentils and split peas. It’s easier on the stomach when you soak the beans and discard the soaking water. Another bonus is that it shortens the cooking time as well.
What Does Soaking Beans Accomplish?
The original purpose of soaking is to allow the beans to start to rehydrate to speed up the cooking time. Since the beans take in the water over a long period of time they are more likely to not burst open from the sudden intake of liquid, making them closer to canned beans.
The other reason that people like to soak their beans is to get rid of the gas that beans cause in some sensitive tummies. There are indigestible sugars in beans that get washed away when you rinse your beans after soaking.
What else helps eliminate the gas distress that beans can cause?
Almost every culture has something they throw into their pot of beans that they claim help digestion. Some of the most common are:
- Bay leaf, a tree leaf that’s an eastern European favorite for adding flavor to beans and stews
- Epazote, an herb used in Mexican cuisine
- Kombu, a kind of seaweed used in Japanese cooking
- Hing or asafoetida is used in Indian food to aid digestion of beans
- You can also try summer savory or plain old ground cumin
Are There Beans I Should Not Soak?
There’s an exception to every rule and this one is no different. You want to soak long cooking beans like chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, etc.
You don’t need to soak black-eyed peas or other field peas, lentils, or split peas. There are exceptions to this, especially in Indian cooking. But the recipe you are using should let you know what you should do.
How Do I Quick-Soak Dried Beans?
It’s really ridiculously easy! Take 1 pound dry beans, pick out any debris like dirt or small pebbles, then rinse in a colander until the water runs clear.
IP Method: Put in your Instant Pot with about 6 cups water, then cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Manually release the pressure, drain the quick soaked beans and rinse them and the inner liner.
Stovetop Method: Put in a pot with about 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, then let sit for 1 hour. Then pour the quick-soaked beans into the colander and rise well.
This will also remove those indigestible proteins that cause stomach upset. Now your beans are ready to use in a recipe that calls for soaked beans.
Note: One thing to look out for is you may need to adjust water when you have quick soaked your beans. They have absorbed some water, but usually not as much as in an overnight or 8 hour regular soak.
I usually add an additional 1/2 cup water per pound of beans that I am cooking. You can always cook off any liquid on the Instant Pot sauté function if there’s too much, but you could get a burn notice on your IP if there is not enough water for the recipe.
Can I Cook Un-soaked Beans In The Instant Pot If The Recipe Calls For Soaked?
You can! Just add additional water and you’ll also have to cook extra time as well.
A rule of thumb would be to add an additional 1 to 2 cups liquid to the dry beans and use the cooking time for un-soaked beans that you are using, which is often about twice the cooking time.
Can I Cook Soaked Beans In The Instant Pot If The Recipe Calls For Un-soaked?
If you are an advocate of soaking, or the recipe you want to use is not for soaked beans, you can adjust the cooking liquid down by about 1 cup, and the cooking time will often be cut in half.
Check the cooking chart to make sure that’s the case for the beans you are using.
What Do I Do If I Get A Burn Notice On My Electric Pressure Cooker?
I hate getting the burn notice and some models of Instant Pot do throw it more often than others. It’s usually the newer models with more features.
Please note that if this happens a lot with your model Instant Pot you will want to add a little additional cooking liquid to keep the message at bay.
The burn notice doesn’t always mean your food is burned, though it can. It means that the bottom is dry, so if you catch it soon enough you can usually save your dinner.
I had one that if I tried to make white rice in it would give me a burn notice each time. If yours is new, I would return it and get a plain old Instant Pot Duo. It was my first Instant Pot and that model is still the most dependable.
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