How to Sprout and Cook Beans

Eating healthy is expensive.

Cooking food from scratch is so time-consuming.

I don’t know how to cook my own beans; it’s really hard!

I don’t like beans. Beans are really boring. 

I’ve heard all the excuses before.  And believe me, I used to be there.  Eating beans? That sounded like a punishment.  But, once you learn how to cook beans and realize that it’s really easy to make them taste absolutely delicious, I promise you’ll start making them from scratch.

First, let’s start with why I love beans. Beans are a fabulous source of vegetarian protein and fiber. And as a bonus, beans are incredibly affordable. If you buy beans in the bulk section, organic beans usually cost $1.29 – $1.99 per pound, depending on the type of bean. A pound of beans could easily feed a family for several meals so making beans a staple in your household will lower grocery bills compared to using other sources of protein.

Many people complain about having digestive problems or gas after eating beans and so I wanted to share some of the best ways I have found to make beans more digestible:  

  1. Chew beans thoroughly. Slowing down and chewing properly is always important (no matter what you are eating), but this is especially helpful if beans tend to give you extra trouble.
  2. Take digestive enzymes with your meal. Beano, anyone? :)
  3. Add fennel or a little apple cider vinegar to the beans during the last twenty minutes of cooking to aid in digestion.
  4. Experiment with different combinations of food. (Legumes tend to combine best with green or non-starchy vegetables.)
  5. Experiment with different beans. Smaller beans tend to be easier to digest (e.g. adzuki, lentils, mung beans, and peas). Pinto, kidney, navy, black-eyed peas, garbanzo, and black beans tend to be a little harder to digest. And soybeans tend to give folks the most digestive problems.
  6. Add kombu during cooking to aid in digestion.
  7. Sprout your beans before cooking.
My favorite way to prepare beans is to soak them, sprout them, and then cook them with kombu.  I noticed a huge difference in my digestion after I started sprouting beans and for anyone who has trouble with eating legumes, I highly recommend the sprouting method. Sprouting also neutralizes the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, making it easier on your digestive system as well as allowing you to absorb more of the nutrients. And, who doesn’t want a nutritional boost?
I know it might sound intimidating to sprout your own beans, but I promise it’s not hard or time-consuming and in this post I’ll show you step-by-step of how to get started!

Start by purchasing dry beans (canned beans will not work for sprouting). I usually purchase beans in bulk from my local health food store and most stores should carry dry beans in bags or in bulk. When purchasing legumes in the bulk section, make sure the bins are covered and that the store has good product turnover (this ensures maximum freshness). You’ll also want to look through the beans and make sure there is no moisture damage and that they are whole (although it is okay if a few are cracked). This method will work on any bean of your choice.

Soak your beans for at least 8 hours or overnight. Add the beans to a large glass container (like a pyrex dish or large glass bowl) and cover with water that is several inches higher than the beans. You’ll want to make sure that the container is large enough that the beans will have room to expand as they soak up the water. After soaking, drain the beans and rinse them thoroughly until the water runs clear.

Add the beans to a colander and then let them sit and sprout, making sure to rinse them every 8 – 12 hours. I recommend keeping a plate underneath the colander to catch any water and covering the colander with a towel to keep any dust out while the legumes are sprouting. The length of time for sprouting will depend on the temperate in your home. In Seattle winters, it usually takes a full 24 hours for me to see even a tiny sprout, but in summer, it can be as quick at 12 hours. As soon as you start to see a small sprout or “tail,” your beans are ready for cooking.

Add the beans to a large metal pot, cover with water, and add a strip of kombu. Kombu is an edible kelp (found at most health food stores or online) and helps to soften the beans while cooking, aids in digestion, and is a great source of trace minerals.
Bring the beans to a boil and then reduce heat to a very slow simmer and cook for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until beans are soft, but not mushy. Once beans are cooked, remove the kombu and drain any extra water. You can now add any spices or seasonings as desired.

I tend to use a lot of beans in my kitchen and would find myself having to make batches of beans each week, which took extra time. Awhile back I invested in a good set of jars and then began sprouting and cooking giant batches of beans and freezing the extras (just be sure to leave room in the jar to allow for expansion). This ensured that I always had “ready to use” beans handy and saved a lot of money because they are much cheaper than canned. If you prefer to use canned beans, I recommend the Eden Organic brand because they are cooked in kombu (and also come in BPA-free cans!)

You can sprout lentils in a similar method (see my full sprouted lentil tutorial here), but for smaller beans (like mung beans) it might be easier to use the jar method (see my full mung bean sprout tutorial here).

Once beans are sprouted and cooked, you can season them as desired. My favorite simple black bean recipe can be found here. Sprouted chickpeas also make a great raw hummus!

And I just want to say a final word here about food safety. I’ve never had any issues with mold or discoloration of my beans during sprouting, but if you ever feel that something is questionable or smells or looks off, please trust your gut and don’t eat it. ;)

So now that you know how to sprout your own beans, what are you going to be making?

How to Sprout & Cook Beans
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound beans (about 2.5 cups uncooked, yields 6 cups cooked)
  • 1 strip kombu
  • Water
  • Spices of your choice
Instructions
  1. Soak the beans for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain the soaking water.
  2. Add the beans to a colander and then let them sit and sprout, making sure to rinse them every 8 – 12 hours. Once the beans are sprouted, they are ready for cooking.
  3. Add the kombu and beans to a large stock pot. Cover with double the amount of water. (This doesn’t have to be an exact science because any extra water will be drained at the end.)
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a very slow simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until beans are cooked.
  5. The beans are done when they are chewable, but not mushy. If there is any extra water, drain from the pot and remove your kombu. Season with spices of your choice.
Notes
This method will work with any type of beans.

 

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Comments

  1. Eileen says

    I too soak and cook beans from scratch, then store them in 2-cup containers in the freezer (generally in their cooking broth). It’s the best plan. :) But! I have never sprouted my beans before cooking them! In fact, I’ve never heard of doing this to anything except, you know, salad sprouts. Super interesting–I’ll have to give it a try!

  2. KAZ says

    If you don’t cook your beans right away how long are the beans good for if you keep them in your fridge?

    • says

      They should last at least a few days. I usually try to cook them and use them as soon as possible as generally cooked beans only last for about 5 days.

  3. Liz Beavis says

    Thank you! I didn’t grow up with beans, so it been a bit of a struggle to figure out how to prepare them. I have been using the Nourishing Traditions recipe, but it takes so long to soak them and then cook for hours. I was wondering if I could just sprout and cook, as I do that with chick peas (you call them something different, I forget what). Thanks for the tutorial, I will be trying this as I bought bulk beans and I didn’t know how to use them!

  4. Andréanne Deshaies says

    Thank you so much! I love beans, but they give me gaz. I will now do as you suggest. But I have a question. I made a search on kombu and I’ve learned that it is very healthy (high in calcium, proteins, fibers, vitamines and more). Would it be a good idea to just leave it in the beans?

    • says

      Absolutely, there’s no harm in leaving it in. I only suggested removing it as some might not want the flavor of seaweed in their beans, but I don’t notice it much. Great question!

  5. Anonymous says

    When you freeze the beans, do you leave them in their cooking water or drain them before putting in jars? Can’t tell from the photo.

  6. Kiersten says

    While sprouting bean in the colander, do you put in back in the refrigerator? Maybe this is a silly question, but while I have a lot of experience making beans from scratch, I’ve never sprouted them before :)

    • says

      This is a great question – sorry for not being clearer on this. While sprouting, the sprouts should be at room temperature as they will not sprout in cold temperatures (such as in a fridge).

  7. says

    I’m all about sprouting these days, but I’ve never come across this method of sprouting then cooking beans. I’m quite intrigued and cannot wait to try it out! Such a wonderful idea, Sonnet! I’ll report back to you how it goes ;)

  8. says

    I make a batch of hummus for sandwiches every week for lunch so I tried sprouting my chickpeas before cooking them last week.I could really tell a difference in how my body digested the beans. Much, much easier on the gut.

  9. KT says

    Learn from my mistake: don’t try to do this in a jar, like grains or salad sprouts! The beans swell so much they jam themselves into to jar and are hard to remove without tearing them up.

  10. C. Lind says

    Great post on sprouting! If anyone wants to save time on the cooking step, try cooking your recipe in a pressure cooker. This brings the cook time down to 10-20 minutes (depending on the legume and quantity.)

    • Christen M. says

      I’ve been trying to find instructions on how to cook sprouted beans in my pressure cooker, do you have a rule of thumb for how much less time to cook them than cooking soaked beans? Or know of a website that talks about it please?

      Thanks! ;)

      • Sonnet says

        I’ve never tried this so I’m not sure. I would recommend cooking them at the same amount of time you would for regular soaked beans and then seeing how that goes. I’d personally rather have overcooked beans than undercooked. Sorry I can’t provide more information about this. :)

  11. SDH says

    I have a TON (entire bushel) of October beans that have sprouted in their pods. Can the sprouted beans be frozen before cooking?

    • Sonnet says

      I’ve never tried freezing the beans before cooking them, although I’ve had great results with freezing them after being cooked. I can’t think of any reason why this would be a problem though. If you try it, let me know how it goes! :)

  12. Margaret says

    Sonnet, your recipe and advice are excellent. I look forward to sprouting beans! I have one question, though. Several years ago, I was into sprouting alfalfa seeds, and I recall having to keep the seeds in the dark during the soaking process until the little sprouts started to appear, so as to mimic nature where the seeds are underground and away from sunlight during the gestation period. Do you recommend the same for beans?

    • Sonnet says

      Great question. I’ve always sprouted them in a corner in my kitchen so they are usually not in direct sunlight, but not completely in the dark. From my experience I don’t think they require complete darkness, but you’re welcome to try this. I wish I had a more definite answer for you. :)

  13. Jasmin says

    Awesome post on sprouting! It has helped me so much! Just one question – is it okay to sprout all types of beans? I’ve heard conflicting views on sprouting Kidney Beans – some say its okay but some say never to sprout them (since the sprout of a kidney bean will be toxic). Can you shed any light on this?

    Thank you!!
    Kind regards :)
    Jasmin

  14. Pam says

    I thought garbanzos and all beans were full of lectins and dangerous to eat raw, even sprouted…(saw your raw bean hummus link)

    • Heather says

      I have researched a little because I have problems with beans. I know for sure that kidney beans contain the most of the toxin and lentils come next. I would not eat those raw for sure. garbanzos are in the pea family really so are slightly different I think. They do not contain the toxin like others of different branches of legume. Mung bean, and aduki beans are similar to garbanzo in that way. Since I have issues with beans I do try to cook them well because I just do not want to risk problems.

  15. Heather says

    So my doctor recommended sprouting the beans and then cooking them in a pressure cooker until they become soft. He says it releases enzyme inhibitors when they are cooked at high heat. So easier to digest. Have you any experience with that. Also when you sprout the beans do they need to be in a single layer? I am using black beans this time. Does the type of water make a difference when sprouting? I have heard it can
    Heather

    • Sonnet says

      I’ve never used a pressure cooker, but I’ve heard this is a great way to soak the beans. I don’t worry about them being in a single layer when they sprout, as long as they aren’t sitting in water (this can cause mold). I don’t have any information regarding the type of water so I would recommend trying this method out and experimenting to see how it works for you. Hope that helps! :)

  16. Ali says

    Hi! I’m attempting to sprout navy beans. I soaked them overnight then rinsed in the colander. Some have split, the outside “peel” is coming off and might have sprouted already. 2 ?s 1. Do they split when they sprout? 2. What does a sprouted navy bean look like? Thanks!

    • Sonnet says

      Hi Ali,
      Great question. I’ve never sprouted navy beans specifically, but it sounds like you are sprouting them correctly because as the beans start to sprout the bean does split open. Hope this helps! :)

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