Baking Soda And Dried Beans? (Benefits and Downsides)

Pectin: Or, Why Dried Beans Soften as They Cook

All plant cells contain pectin, which is a crucial part of the lamella, the cement or glue that holds the cells together. Pectin, along with other carbohydrates like cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, helps the plant cells maintain their physical structure, and these indigestible carbohydrates are what we mean when we refer to "dietary fiber." The firmness that characterizes vegetables like potatoes and African yams is directly related to the presence of large quantities of pectin.

Transforming a hard, dried bean into one that's tender, creamy, and enjoyable to eat requires first that the bean absorbs water and then, as it's heated, the bean's physical structure needs to change. The bean's seed coat presents an initial obstacle; the water must first penetrate the seed coat before the interior of the bean can begin to absorb water and cook. This is why hulled beans, like urad dal, can be cooked in much less time; I've seen reports that removing that seed coat can reduce the cooking time of beans by up to 40%.

Once water is able to penetrate the seed coat and heat is applied, the pectin that sits inside begins to transform. As the pectin heats up it transforms from a hard, insoluble substance that holds the cells together into a soft, water-soluble material. As that pectin sitting between the cells softens and dissolves in water, the cells begin to fall apart, and that loss in structural integrity is what makes cooked beans soft and creamy.

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Does baking soda have any other effects on the chickpeas?

Baking soda can make chickpeas easier to digest

Some people say that adding baking soda to your chickpeas can also help to reduce any stomach discomfort that may be caused by eating pulses.

For a lot of people, it’s a type of sugar called oligosaccharides, found in chickpeas, which can cause uncomfortable gas and stomach pains. Soaking the chickpeas thoroughly helps to reduce the quantity of this sugar in the chickpeas by up to 40% (Njoumi, Amiot, Rochette, Bellagha & Mouquet-Rivier, 2019). It seems reasonable that if baking soda helps the soaking process, it could also help to reduce the oligosaccharides in the chickpeas.

Baking soda could possibly alter the chickpeas’ nutrition

There’s also some evidence that adding baking soda to chickpeas can alter their nutritional content. Specifically, it can reduce the B vitamins in the chickpeas. As long as you eat an otherwise balanced diet, this small reduction in vitamins shouldn’t be a huge concern. However, if you do struggle to eat enough B vitamins anyway (for example, if you eat a vegan diet), you may prefer to skip the baking soda, and keep the B vitamins instead.

What to put in canned beans to prevent gas?

Even canned beans can be cooked more prior to serving. Add ajwain or epazote – both of these spices will decrease gas production – I swear by the epazote! Just add about a tablespoon to a large pot of beans during the cooking process. You can also add ginger or cumin as these spices help with digestion.

What does adding baking soda to soaking beans do?

Baking soda is a natural tenderizer. It acts by increasing the pH and the alkalinity of soaking water, as well as removing elements like magnesium and calcium from hard water. Also, baking soda speeds up the disintegration of pectin, allowing the beans to soften faster.

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Help, My Beans Are Still Hard After Hours of Cooking!

You’re not alone, this is a not an uncommon problem.  From Fine Cooking:  “Some beans refuse to soften. You can soak them overnight and then simmer them all day long, and they’re still hard as pebbles. The main causes of this are age and improper storage.”

As dried beans age the pores in the beans that allow water to enter close up which will prevent the beans from softening no matter how long they are cooked.

Be sure to follow the instructions to soak the beans overnight and then boil them for an hour.  For especially hard beans one classic trick you can try is to add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to the beans while you’re boiling them (1/4 teaspoon for every pound of beans).  Be careful though:  If too much is added or if it’s added to beans that aren’t too hard, you could end up with mushy beans.

Which Beans cause the most gas?

A 2011 study found that people who ate baked beans and pinto beans were more likely to notice increased gassiness than people who ate black-eyed peas.

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How do you make beans more tender?

Heat to boiling; boil for 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and soak for up to 4 hours. Hot soaking is the preferred method since it reduces cooking time, helps dissolve some of the gas-causing substances in beans, and most consistently produces tender beans. Quick Soak.

Does adding baking soda to beans help with gas?

To cut down on the gassy properties, you can add a little baking soda to your recipe. The baking soda helps break down some of the beans’ natural gas-making sugars. … To degas with baking soda, add a teaspoon of baking soda to 4 quarts of water. Stir in the dried beans and bring to a boil.

Testing Brining Solutions for Beans

To test the hypothesis that sodium affects pectin and consequently bean hardness and cooking, I ran a few brining experiments with different types of sodium salts. To see how different beans perform under these different conditions, I restricted myself to black beans and kidney beans. Black beans really don’t need to be brined before cooking, since they have thin skins and cook easily, but I thought they’d offer a useful comparison for the kidney beans and how well they performed in the experiment.

Experiment

We filled three pots, each with 5 cups of water. To one we added 1 percent baking soda by weight to turn it alkaline (about 8 on the pH scale) and to another we added enough citric acid to increase its acidity to 3. We left the third pot untreated so that it registered a neutral pH of 7. We stirred a cup of black beans into each pot, brought them all to a simmer, covered the pots, and put them in the same 350-degree oven to cook. We removed all three pots from the oven when the beans in the alkaline water had turned tender, or about 45 minutes. We repeated the test three times.

Why add baking soda to chickpeas?

So, if baking soda is usually used to help baked goods rise, why on earth would you want to add it to dried chickpeas? It’s not like you need your chickpeas to puff up with carbon dioxide (right?!).

Well, it’s all to do with softening the chickpeas. As I found when I was researching splitting bean skins, cooking beans and chickpeas is a real art. It’s all about rehydrating your pulses to the perfect softness.

Chickpeas have a tough skin around them, and even with long cooking times, they can be difficult to soften. Sometimes, chickpeas can end up feeling a little crunchier than perhaps you hoped they would be.

This is especially apparent if you’re blending your chickpeas into hummus. If your chickpeas are not perfectly soft, your hummus may end up slightly grainy or lumpy.

How acidic liquid affects chickpeas

Adding baking soda to the water while the chickpeas soak or cook raises the pH of the water (i.e. makes the water more alkaline / less acidic).

It’s long been known that cooking chickpeas in an acidic environment can prevent them from softening completely, even with long cooking times. This is why it’s recommended to wait until after your chickpeas have cooked to add acidic ingredients like tomatoes, vinegar or lemon.

Alkaline environments (such as water with baking soda!), on the other hand, are brilliant for softening legumes. It makes the skins of the chickpeas more soluble, allowing the liquid to enter the cells more easily, and helping them to soften.

Chickpeas that have been soaked in water with baking soda will generally go on to cook in less time than chickpeas soaked without baking soda. Depending on how much baking powder you use, and several other variables, the difference in cooking time could only save you a few minutes, or it could cut your cooking time in half. You really need to just experiment to see whether you find any noticeable difference.

You may also find the baking soda chickpeas become softer and more creamy than those cooked without baking soda.

Takeaway

It turns out that an alkaline environment starts a chemical reaction that causes the cell structure of legumes to break down. When we add baking soda to a pot of cooking beans, it results in tender beans in less time.

On the flip side, adding acid causes the cell structure of legumes to remain firm. If there is too much acid in the pot, the beans may never soften enough to be ready to eat. This means that you should be careful when cooking beans with acidic ingredients, especially tomatoes, citrus juices, and vinegar. We find it is best to add citrus juices and vinegars at the end of the cooking process—when the beans are already softened. (This also preserves the flavor of these acidic ingredients.) Tomatoes generally need some cooking time, so we often add tomatoes (including all canned tomato products) partway through the cooking process, after the beans have softened considerably.

The lesson? Along with brining and soaking, baking soda can work wonders on beans, saving you up to an hour of cooking time. Just be sure not to add more than a pinch—too much and the beans can end up tasting soapy and unpleasant.

Does putting a potato in beans reduce gas?

Does putting a potato in beans reduce gas? She put in a whole potato in the pot as well while boiling them supposedly for the purpose of “absorbing” the gas from the beans. The result is that the beans are supposed to make you less gassy but if you eat the potato you’ll get super gassy. That’s a waste of a good potato!

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