If you use a slow cooker, can you skip soaking beans? Like, from dry to done in 8-10 hrs of cooking?

a Whole Foods Market Customer


mensaque September 17, 2012
8 to 10 hous cooking beans?WHY?Just soak it for a couple of hours and boile them for another 2 hours,stirring and adding more water every 30min.Only then you season it.You'll end up with a thick sauce and tender beans just like we do in Brazil in half that time!!!
ChefOno September 17, 2012

Because a slow cooker may reach the boiling point, that does not mean it will, or that it will do so before the rest of the dish is cooked. Relying on the appliance to properly deactivate the poison, especially without knowledge and consideration of the issue, is not good food safety practice. Besides, beans should be boiled during the first stage of cooking when they're still firm and won't break apart and turn to mush.

It's not just kidney beans one needs to be concerned with; other beans such as soy, broad and limas are also poisonous. And it's not just phytohemagglutinins at fault, beans can carry protease inhibitors and cyanogens which, when mixed with enzymes from the plant by chewing, release deadly hydrogen cyanide.

Author Comment
@ChefOno: then the dish was undercooked. (You will note, I didn't say that kidney bean poisoning is impossible from a slow cooker. I said all slow cookers will reach the boiling point eventually. The question is whether you leave it there long enough to break down the hemagglutenin.)
ChefOno September 16, 2012

@WFMC That's not entirely correct either. The USDA has documented a number of cases of slow-cooker kidney bean poisoning. Consumers need to be aware of the issue and how to alleviate it.


Yes, you can skip soaking beans; most of the world does just that. How much quality, if any, you'll sacrifice is another question. Much depends on the type of bean, other ingredients in the pot, and the intended use. If you're going to refry or purée them, there's little point in striving for the creamiest texture and soft, intact skins.

In any case, you've got little or nothing to lose by trying. Do it, learn something.

Author Comment
@HurricaneLane That's not entirely correct. All slow cookers will eventually reach the boiling point; a properly filled (i.e. 3/4 full) 6 qt pot will reach the boil after about 4 hours on high, or 8 on low. Smaller pots, or less-full pots, will reach 212F faster.

@OP: Cook's Illustrated says "follow the recipe," under the assumption that it's been designed/tested. For their Slow-Cooker Tuscan White Bean Soup, they want the beans soaked; for their Slow-Cooker Black Bean Soup, they don't. So it's still debatable.
HuricaneLane September 16, 2012
Your not supposed to cook kidney beans this way as it doesnt get high enough heat to break down a substance that is somewhat poisonous. other beans I believe isnt an issue.

petitbleu September 16, 2012
It all depends on what kind of beans you're cooking. Garbanzos are notoriously long-cooking beans, although the slow heat of the pressure cooker might be ideal for them. I would think that soaking is unnecessary for this cooking method, although I have to say I've never tried it. I almost always use a pressure cooker for dried beans (confession: I don't soak them, though you're "supposed" to), but I can imagine that a nice slow cook would yield creamier beans.
Apparently, adding salt during cooking is a good thing. It causes the beans to cook slightly slower, but allows the salt to permeate the beans better, resulting in a better-tasting final product.
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