Why Are My Beans Still Hard after Cooking?

dried kidney beans don't get softHave you ever soaked and cooked a batch of beans, only to find that they never really got soft? The main reason for beans that are still hard after cooking is the quality of the beans. Drying beans preserves them for a long time, but not forever.  Even if you just got them, they may have been sitting in the grocery store for months or longer. Choose dried goods from stores with a lot of turnover. And make sure to cover them with plenty of water, as beans above the level of the water will take longer to get soft. Even in a pressure cooker.

Kidney, butter and cannelloni beans need to be cooked thoroughly to remove a toxin that can cause illness.

I have heard claims that hard water will prevent beans from getting soft, but the hard water from my tap works fine for me. Soaking beans can reduce the cooking time, but it shouldn’t make more than 10 or 15 minutes difference to the final product.

Adding baking soda to the cooking water will help soften the beans. But the soda destroys some of the thiamine, the vitamin (B1) that helps make the beans more digestible. Cooking beans with acidic food like tomatoes doesn’t slow down cooking time, but will help keep the skins intact. Salt has no effect on cooking times.(source)

You can continue cooking the hard beans to see if they will get soft, but it is probably not worth your time and energy. If you have to go to a lot of trouble to get your beans to cook, try to find a better quality shopping source.

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  1. Actually, no, I’ve never had the experience of beans being still hard, but it’s good to know the information.

    When I first got married, I remember “making” split pea soup in a crock pot, and they were still hard when I served them to my guests. I’ve since learned that split peas take longer than lentils.


  1. […] can become irretrievably hard through poor storage, old age or fluctuations in storage temperature. If they don’t soften […]