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My favorite beans are lima beans, which means that I am no stranger to me Soak beans overnight. Maybe you can get away with it skip the soaking step with fewer beans, but the Lima demands it. (If I hate something, if I feel it between my teeth, it’s an uncooked floury lima bean.)
Soaking beans requires bean soaking water, and many bean recipes tell you to throw that water away once the soaking is complete. You should then rinse the beans and boil them in fresh water. I never did this because I am against unnecessary, performative work. I rinse the beans (removing any shriveled specimens or tiny stones) before soaking them, so why should I have to rinse them again?
According to the bean thinkers Ranch Gordo, it has long been believed that throwing the water helps reduce gastrointestinal discomfort (“the farts are in the water!” some say), but there is “conflicting scientific evidence that changing the water is less gas consumed”. Not only do they rely on flimsy scientific arguments, but they likely pour flavor down the drain as well.
“The thought now is that the vitamins and flavor from the beans can get into the soaking water that you pour into the sink,” explain the bean people, adding, “If you want, do it. If it seems unnecessary, don’t do it. “
At least I don’t. Lima beans don’t seem to be too much of a problem for my stomach anyway, but more importantly, I’ve always found that beans cooked in their soaking liquid have a richer, darker, and more flavorful broth.
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I’m not the only one who noticed this. When people at Epic tested beans boiled in their soaking liquid compared to beans boiled in fresh water and found that “the beans boiled in the soaking liquid were much more aromatic, nicer, darker in color and texture better maintained. “
So if, like me, you’ve always boiled your beans in soaking water: Congratulations, we’ve been right all along. But if you’ve thrown away the soaking water for fear of farts and replaced it with fresh, “clean” water, don’t worry. There’s still time to change your habits and start a whole new bean-eating chapter in your life – a chapter that is sure to be more delicious than any before.