Spring Bean-ing: Tips to bring life back to your beans

Spring is in full swing here in the Pacific Northwest! The sun is out and shining bright which means, spring cleaning season is upon us. For most of us, spring cleaning is a time to throw out what we don’t need and reorganize our spaces. At Rill, spring cleaning means finally getting around to cleaning out the pantry!


Many times dried goods are bought and then forgotten at the back of the pantry, resulting in some fairly-aged packages of dried lentils and beans. Before your spring-cleaning brain throws out those beans or expired soup mixes, take a look at some of these tips to soften those beans up!


Bean Softening- Tips and Tricks


The first thing to remember when attempting to bring life back to your beans, is that some ingredients will actually halt the softening process! Ingredients such as tomatoes, wine, lemon, and vinegar cause beans to harden because of their acidity. The acid of these ingredients binds to the outer layer of the bean and makes it hard for water to soak in.


There are several ways to breathe life back into your beans. Below we have listed a few sure-fire ways to have your beans tasting great again!


  • Add acidic ingredients last

As we mentioned above, acidic ingredients will make even the freshest beans hard as rocks. Make sure to add them once the beans are already soft. 


  • Cook your beans in a pressure cooker

Need the beans right away? Try using a pressure cooker! We have found that this method works best if you soak your beans in water overnight. The next day, toss your beans into a pressure cooker for 20 minutes and in no time your beans will be as fresh as the day you bought them!


  • Use baking soda

This trick is not as well known as the others. Next time you need to soften beans, add baking soda when soaking your beans and when you cook them! Hard water has minerals that cause beans to harden. Baking soda removes those hardening minerals, making your beans soften even quicker! To read more about how to use the baking soda process, click here


  • Increase the cook time

If you are planning to use the beans in a recipe, try increasing the amount of time you cook the beans. Once you have soaked the beans overnight, place the beans in a pot with fresh water and bring the pot to a boil. Depending on the age of the beans, cooking times could vary between 1-3 hours. We recommend checking your beans every 15 minutes by crushing a bean to test the consistency.

 Photo Credit: Carnation Farm Stand


In addition to utilizing your forgotten beans, why not stock up on some new ones? You can shop our variety of legumes here! The next time  you inevitably find that old stock of beans in your pantry, make sure to try these tips before tossing them out!