To Rinse or Not to Rinse Beans, THAT is the Question

by Head Health Nutter on January 29, 2008

About 4 years ago, not only had I started a healthier lifestyle by spending more time preparing healthy meals, I had also just started dating the love of my life.

He went to Cuba for two weeks and upon his return, I thought I’d surprise him with an authentic Cuban dish, black bean soup (this isn’t the recipe but I tried this one recently and it was really yummy).

Total Health Blog | Healthy Eating Tips | Cooking Tips | Rinsing Canned Beans | How to Cook with Beans

In my excitement and inexperience (and lack of attention), I failed to rinse the canned beans. The soup turned out REALLY horrible. It was a poor resemblance of food, a murky and pasty black bean mush…

A few days later he bought me The Joy of Cooking. :)

This book is crazy informative and tells you everything you could ever want to know about cooking and food. Of course I wanted to find out why my Cuban black bean turned out so horrible so under the section, About Substituting Canned Beans , it says, “Rinsing canned beans improves the taste a little and removes excess salt.”

The University of Michigan Integrative Medicine says that soaking beans gets rid of the hard-to-digest, gas-producing sugars and rinsing canned beans is absolutely necessary…unless you WANT gas.

Just recently, however, I ran into a Hearty Four Bean Stew recipe that says NOT to drain the canned beans!

So this begs the question, even though these raffinose sugars are hard to digest for humans, do they have any nutritional benefits? If they do, then cooking with the liquid that beans are soaked in may be a healthy alternative to cooking with beans.

Agricultural research, at least one source, seems to suggest that raffinose is a waste sugar and has practically no nutritional benefit.

What do you folks say about cooking with the liquid found in canned beans?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Denise January 29, 2008 at 10:00 am

Canned beans are a good solid substitute for the real thing, and the liquid they are stored in remove the need to soak the beans. a real time saver. HOWEVER, you need to rinse the beans in cold water before using! The recipe likely says not to drain the beans because it needs the fluids. RINSE them and then add the approx. amount of fluids you tossed out.

The reasons for rinsing are endless, but here are two good ones:

-cut the sodium by almost HALF
-they are stored in a TIN CAN, a tin can that you have NO WAY OF KNOWING how it got there. everything from extreme heat, extreme cold, jostling, banging etc etc causes leaching. any chance to rinse that off is a good one!

That’s my two cents! keep up the good work!

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Mitch Kupchak January 29, 2008 at 8:43 pm

But isn’t it still true that beans are the musical fruit? Just asking!

And what about a discussion of Beano which counteracts all those proteins and the vicious gas attacks the lowly bean produces. I mean, sure, they’re cheap food that’s good for you but they do have noteworthy side effects but I don’t see them mentioned here. So I went ahead and did.

We’re all grown up here. I’m sure many of us reading these posts have cleared people out of entire rooms after gorging on a bean salad or some Mexican burritos. And the looks on those people’s faces: they’re aghast! Was there a pun in that last one. I seem to sniff one out; yes, yes there is one.

So, let’s get real here! Sure beans are good for you but stock up on the fire retardant (Beano) first or suffer the regret of the dire consequences.

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Rob January 30, 2008 at 1:43 am

Rinse!

Rinse the processed oils, water, and salt away before eating.

you really only want the beans anyway right?

that’s my take on it.

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Steph January 30, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Thanks for your input, Denise. Check two for rinsing canned beans!

Mitch, very good observation (or is it olfactorvation?) about the side-effects of beans.

In the sources I’ve come across, your digestive system adapts and gets used to digesting beans.

So I guess that old saying should go, “…the more you eat, the less you toot!”

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Steph January 31, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Thanks for your vote, Rob!

Okay, guys, that’s four now for rinsing canned beans before cooking with them. :)

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Nanc March 26, 2012 at 10:50 am

I have a different take on rinsing canned beans. What about the fact that any water in the can goes into the bean. We all know the beans are hard and dry before being cooked. If they are cooked in the can the water and salt 9/10ths of the water and salt goes into the bean long before they are opened and consumed. I make homemade soup with beans all the time, most of the time from dry beans cooked in my crock pot and I add salt. If you eat anything containing salt then the salt argument doesn’t mean anything.

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Angie May 28, 2013 at 1:49 am

I always rinse canned beans. I have found debris like grain size pebbles and small twigs at times …so just to be on the safe side, I make sure my beans are well rinsed. Plus, I think the liquid from the can is icky.

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Head Health Nutter June 13, 2013 at 12:55 pm

True dat, Angie, the liquid from the can IS really icky.

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DAWN June 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm

I never rinse the beans. I purchase organically grown beans that have no salt added and I see no reason to toss the flavorful liquid that they have been housed in. Also, the liquid helps thicken my recipe. So, no.

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Head Health Nutter June 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Awesome, thanks for contributing to the discussion, Dawn! You can a good point with using organic, dry beans. Very healthy. :)

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SheHawk September 21, 2013 at 11:42 am

Angie and Dawn both bring good points to this discussion. Since I usually buy my beans from Aldis, it’s best to follow Dawn’s advice. In the past I have always drained and rinsed beans for salads and such, but for soups and hummus I wasn’t sure.

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