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I've heard from many sources to check beans for stones before soaking/cooking them. I've been cooking with beans for years (mostly black beans, chickpeas and lentils), and I've never encountered a stone before or after cooking. Is the stone thing a myth, or no longer the case with modern agricultural technology?

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I've found stones before, but in rice and coffee. I suppose it's quite rare. I am most paranoid about finding stones in my coffee since it's not worth damaging a $700 grinder... –  Megasaur Dec 30 '12 at 0:31
Not sure if it was a stone, or a really deformed bean in the last bag of black beans I looked over. Over the years, I've seen some things that I'm pretty confident were stones (multiple times; black beans, red beans, etc.) I can't say that I've ever seen a stone in lentils ... but that's mostly anecdotal as I only cook lentils at most twice a year. Either way, a minute or two looking over the beans is way better than a cracked tooth ... had that happen once (partially thawed Snickers bar that I didn't know had been frozen) and I hope to never have it happen again. –  Joe Dec 30 '12 at 0:52
It's the $700 dentist bill that you are avoiding, your call –  TFD Dec 30 '12 at 0:53
I remember looking for them (and finding) when I was a child. But don't do anymore. I'd focus on agricultural technology changes. –  J.A.I.L. Dec 30 '12 at 3:30
FWIW, I encountered a stone in a burrito from a restaurant once. –  KatieK Dec 30 '12 at 7:11

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I've found stones in dried beans, so it's no myth. Not common, but I'd say I find one every year or two. If you simply swallowed a small stone, it would almost certainly pass without harm, but as TFD pointed out in his comment, biting down on one could be an expensive and painful dental experience. What I do is spread the beans out on a kitchen towel in a single layer. For dark beans, I use a light-colored towel and vice-versa for light beans. It's very easy to spot any foreign objects that way and it takes less than a minute, so it's worth doing in my opinion. You can then easily toss the beans into a pot by just picking up the four corners of the towel and dumping them in.

I should add that I've found little balls of dried dirt far more often than actual stones. Those would most likely dissolve and get washed away when you rinsed the beans, but it demonstrates that stones can be in there.

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Addendum: Yesterday I made black bean soup. In a one-pound package of dried beans, I found no less than five stones. Definitely very unusual, but it serves to underscore the point. –  Carey Gregory Apr 16 '13 at 4:30

Quite to the contrary - it is the modern agricultural technology that causes the stones. Modern methods would mean of the past 50-60 years and longer-combines have been used for many many years now. Hand harvesting would of course be picking beans right of the vine would not yield any stones.

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This answer would be better if you more directly answered the question - you've left it implicit that there are still stones in beans and it's worth checking for them. –  Jefromi Jan 20 '14 at 4:19

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