I have scarlet runner beans in my garden this year. I just picked my first batch of dry pods and shelled them. Most of the recipes I find online assume that you are buying or using dry beans and call for a 4-6 hour pre-soak.

I have cooked dried black beans and pinto beans before using a pre-soak, and the beans are usually hard and wrinkled before soaking and smooth and plump afterwards. My scarlet runner beans are already plump and smooth straight out of the pod.

Do I need to soak them before cooking? What about other bean varieties? If I grew black or pinto beans in the garden, would I need to soak them?


1 Answer 1


No, you don't need to soak fresh shell beans.

Unlike their dried counterparts, shelling beans don't need a soak before using. Most fresh shelling beans require from 20 to 30 minutes to cook

The Spruce Eats

I'm not sure where they got the idea that most fresh shell beans take 20-30 minutes. You'll find recipes that vary from 10 to 60 minutes of cooking time.

Here's a recipe from the New York Times (maybe behind a paywall - sorry) that has you cook beans for 55 minutes: Shell Bean Ragout. And you may appreciate that this recipe specifically mentions scarlet runner beans as one of the varieties that would work here.

Shell beans take less than half the time to cook than their dried counterparts. Look for varieties such as mottled pink and white cranberry beans, also known as borlotti beans; large scarlet runner beans that are mottled and purple, despite the name; and pale yellow cannellini beans.

I have never seen fresh black or pinto beans being sold, but my guess is this has to do with economics, rather than edibility.

  • 1
    Lots of beans are toxic until they're cooked properly, which is why they're cooked at the factory and rarely sold uncooked. Scarlet runner beans are minimally toxic [according to random google results, YMMV] but definitely cook them properly to avoid digestive unpleasantness.
    – Sammitch
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 18:56

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