Soaked beans taste better, are easier to digest, and don’t have to be cooked for as long as the beans that have not spent some time in a bowl of water. But do they need to be kept in the fridge while soaking or can you just leave the beans on your countertop?
Beans don’t necessarily need to be refrigerated while soaking, but keeping them in the fridge is definitely a safer option as the low temperature will help slow down the growth of bacteria and prevent fermentation.
With that being said, you can place the bowl somewhere at room temperature if keeping the beans in the refrigerator is, for some reason, not possible (but there are a few important things that you would have to bear in mind).
Pros of Refrigerating Beans While Soaking
- Keeping the beans in the fridge while soaking helps slow down bacteria growth
Most bacteria grow fastest in the temperature range between 41 and 135 degrees. As beans need to be soaked for at least 4 hours before cooking, the bowl might end up becoming a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria, if you leave it at room temperature.
The good news, however, is that these organisms will get killed once you start cooking the beans.
- Refrigerating beans while soaking can prevent them from fermenting
If you leave the bowl in a warm location for long enough, the beans can start to ferment in the water. This will affect the taste as the product will become sourer.
But, most importantly, the beans can get gassy. People who are extra sensitive to this type of food might find it more challenging to digest such beans.
So, even though soaking beans is supposed to break down the indigestible sugars, leaving them to soak at warm temperatures might potentially eliminate this benefit.
- Beans kept in the fridge will not sprout
Though the beans will not start to sprout unless you keep them in the water at room temperature for over 24 hours, you might have to deal with such an issue if the conditions are just right.
Fortunately, sprouted beans are perfectly safe to consume (as long as they are not spoilt).
Cons of Refrigerating Beans While Soaking
- Keeping the soaking beans in the fridge is inconvenient
To soak a whole pack of beans, you will need a relatively large bowl. Of course, you won’t always be able to find enough space in your fridge for this big item.
- Refrigerating beans while soaking might simply be unnecessary
If you’re planning on cooking the beans over the course of the day after the soak, the product will not cause you any harm even if it has been kept at room temperature the whole night.
How to Prevent Bacterial Growth in Beans While Soaking
If you want to make sure that your beans are extra safe, then you might choose to soak them in the fridge. But in the absolute majority of cases, keeping them out on the countertop would be completely safe as well.
However, there are a few things that you would have to remember as, just like any other product, beans can get contaminated if not prepared correctly.
- Always rinse under cold, clean water before placing them in the pot.
- Soak them in bowls that are made of non-reactive materials (glass, stainless steel, ceramic, etc.).
- Cover the container to prevent it from getting contaminated.
- Ideally, you would want to change the soak water every few hours with cool, fresh water. This is especially important if you are not keeping the bowl in the fridge as the water change can help get rid of the bacteria.
- Always discard the soaking water. You should not use it to cook the beans as it contains the removed indigestible sugars, toxins, and dirt.
- After soaking, thoroughly rinse them under cold fresh water.
- Remember that it will still take them quite a while to fully cook even if they have been soaked. In general, you might have to cook the beans for at least 45 minutes (it may take less if you’re using an instant pot). In some cases, you might have to keep the beans in the pot for up to 2 hours.
- Do not rush through the cooking process as that’s exactly when the majority of the bacteria will get killed.
Our website has several similar articles to this one, in addition to the article you are reading now like Best Way To Store Green Onions In The Refrigerator, Storing Chocolate Covered Strawberries and Does Chocolate Covered Strawberries Need To Be Refrigerated?
Tip: you would typically have to soak the beans for at least 4 hours, but if you don’t have that much time, you can opt for a quicker soaking method. Simply boil the beans for 2-3 minutes, place a cover over the pot, remove it from the heat, and allow the beans to soak in hot water for an hour (in such a case, you should keep the pot on the countertop, not the fridge).