If you love beans but find yourself getting gassy after eating them, you’re not alone. But you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re sacrificing your own physical comfort (and pride) for one of your favorite foods. Thanks to a little-known cooking hack, you don’t have to anymore: Add baking soda to beans before cooking them, then say goodbye to that pesky gas.
We know what you’re thinking: Why on earth would I add baking soda to beans? How would that help? To understand why this cooking tip works, we must first understand why beans make us pass gas in the first place. According to Nutrition Facts, many beans contain the raffinose family of sugars, which is a starch that is poorly digested due to the lack of certain enzymes. In other words, you can blame this raffinose for bad gas. As it turns out, research dating back more than two decades found that adding baking soda to dried beans soaking in water before cooking significantly decreases their levels of raffinose.
The best part? You don’t even need to use a lot of baking soda in order to see (and feel) results. About 1/16 teaspoon per quart is all you need to do the trick, writes food expert Michael Greger, MD, on Nutrition Facts.
Even if you don’t struggle with gas after eating beans, the addition of baking soda may help enhance your cooking experience in another way. According to Guy Crosby, PhD, the science editor for America’s Test Kitchen, adding a tiny amount of baking soda to the cooking water of beans (not the soaking water) can help slash your cooking time in half and also get the soft, creamy texture you want. For this trick, about one teaspoon per cup of dry beans does the trick, Dr. Crosby told the Bean Institute.
If you decide to start adding baking soda to beans — either in the soaking water or cooking water — just be sure not to go overboard and add too much. After all, you don’t want to risk walking away with a big pile of mush!
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