Sunday, January 16, 2011

Soaking Beans

Huh? Do what to beans? Let me explain.

The Chinese have traditionally been credited with being the first to understand "sprouting" beans to release their Vitamin C, which is bound up and cannot be absorbed without this step. All over Europe and the Middle East, Beer has been made by first sprouting (or germinating) grains. We even know that in the past, grains were left standing in sheaves in the fields before being brought into storage and that often resulted in the grains sprouting. Modern farming practices avoid this at all costs.

Turns out, germination not only allows the Vitamin C to be released for our bodies to absorb, but it also actually increases the B vitamins, especially B2, B5, and B6. Carotene is increased dramatically-sometimes up to eight times the original amount contained in the beans or grains.

Here is something even more shocking: beans/legumes and grains contain what is called Phytic Acid, classified as an anti-nutrient. It binds to the good vitamins and minerals that we need (calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc) and drags them out of our bodies before we can attempt to absorb them. Sprouting releases phytase which nullifies the phytic acid, allowing us to utilize the innate goodness within. Complex sugars contained in the beans/legumes are broken down and do not have a chance to cause intestinal disturbances (gas).

Now, you should know that eating large amounts of raw sprouts is not good either as they do contain irritating substances. They are deliberately made to be irritating to keep grazing animals from eating the sprouts before they mature into seed bearing plants! So, cook the sprouted beans or grains to neutralize the offending substances. 

I have attached a picture of the 1/2 package of 16 bean soup that I just sprouted. At this point, I can cook them, dry them or freeze them. I am going to dry these. Then, when I want 16 bean soup, I can pull out some of my ready stock, add some water, some beans, a bay leaf or two and whatever leftover meat I have on hand to have a hearty, very inexpensive meal.

See their funny little tails? Those are the sprouts. You do not have to let them sprout long enough to look like an actual plant! Just long enough to let their hair down, so to speak.

From the book "Nourishing Traditions," by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD, I quote the method I use to sprout my beans:
     "The method for sprouting all grains and seeds is the same --only the length of time needed to accomplish full germination varies with the size and nature of the seed. Simply fill a mason jar one-third full with any grain or seed. Add filtered water to the top of the jar and screw on the top with it's screen insert [I use a coffee filter]. Allow the seeds to soak overnight and pour off the water. Rinse the seeds well--you can do this without removing the top [must remove coffee filter, though]. Invert the jar and let it sit at an angle so it can drain, and to allow air to circulate. The seeds should be rinsed every few hours, or at least twice a day. In one to four days the sprouts will be ready. Rinse well, shake out excess moisture, and replace the screen insert with the solid section of the lid. Store sprouts in the refrigerator." It really is just that easy! Rinse and drain; rinse and drain until they sprout.

You can do this! Why not give it a shot and then tell me how you did?

edit 1/17/11:  I just read this note. On this page, she is trying to sell a chart, but she starts out saying basically what I have said here about soaking your beans/legumes/grains, but with a little more detail. Might be worth the minute it will take to read it:


  1. Here's another good one on soaking beans:

  2. Interesting, Sherry. I can't imagine eating them with the sprouts though. Maybe it's because we don't really eat bean sprouts anyway. I do soak the beans for our bean soup for about 12 hours, sometimes more, in my slow cooker. Then the next day I cook them in the slow cooker where they soaked. I never cared for bean as a kid but I really enjoy the bean soup we eat now. Oh, yes, and thanks for sharing the link, Sue. :o)