I'm a teen trying to cook for himself and I wanted to make some red beans and rice.

After I boiled the water, I started soaking the red beans and in just 5-8 minutes, the beans pruned up like your fingers in bath.

I got so scared (I still am), because I think I did something wrong because my grandmothers red beans never looked like that. (At least when I ate them.)

My mother got the beans from a free food place and they've been in the cabinet for a few months now.

The beans:

2 lbs (900 g) of Morrison Farms light red kidney beans in 8 cups of boiled water.

The boiled water has 1/4 cup of kosher salt dissolved.

  • 1
    Did you soak the beans before cooking them? If not, I suspect the outside is just cooking faster than the water is making it to the middle to soften the whole bean. You might want to cut the heat, let them rest in the hot water for an hour, then finish cooking then
    – Joe
    Feb 21, 2022 at 23:23
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    I've had beans do that. It's not an issue, just give them an hour or so.
    – FuzzyChef
    Feb 22, 2022 at 0:06
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    @FuzzyChef omg thank you guys. They just finished soaking, and now the real cooking starts ... any advice on how to season them?
    – crash15
    Feb 22, 2022 at 0:31
  • Posted that as an answer so that we can mark this one completed. As for seasoning the beans, it's really up to how you want them to taste, no? Maybe use a recipe?
    – FuzzyChef
    Feb 22, 2022 at 2:09
  • 1
    @quarague: Some bean-cooking techniques involve soaking the beans in (effectively) a brine and then draining them and cooking them in fresh water. So it's possible that the OP is trying to do that. Feb 22, 2022 at 18:43

2 Answers 2


It's normal for beans to sometimes do that during the first stages of soaking, particularly if you soak them in boiling water. They should plump up and become normal after 40min to an hour.

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    Perhaps mention the toxicity of red kidney beans and the proper handling of it in your answer? It is not clear in the question whether this is being followed or not. It may not be common knowledge. Some procedures recommend pre-soaking and throwing away the water in which the beans were boiled. Feb 23, 2022 at 12:50
  • @PeterMortensen Since the beans mentioned in the question are, as far as I can tell, canned, rather than raw, this should not be an issue here, right? (I doubt raw beans would still be good after a couple of months in a cabinet anyways.) Feb 23, 2022 at 15:09
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    @AlexanderWolters The soaking suggest to me they're dried beans, which (as long as they stay cool and dry) can last a year easily, or many years if packaged and stored carefully
    – BThompson
    Feb 23, 2022 at 15:41
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    @PeterMortensen that is not a question that the OP asked, so I see no reason to include that in my answer. That information is readily available online.
    – FuzzyChef
    Feb 23, 2022 at 16:58

Quote from Bon Appetit:

After soaking, the beans should be BIG—they'll have absorbed much of the water. If they don't change in size, or are visibly wrinkly or shriveled, your beans are probably too old. If it seems like just a few of the beans are wrinkled, pick them out and proceed.

If it’s the whole pot, start over with fresh beans or buckle in for a looooong, slow cook—and add a pinch of baking soda: The baking soda increases the pH of the liquid (the opposite effect of adding acid to the mix!), naturally making the beans more tender.

Backing up the quote, old beans do take longer to cook, and when they are too old, they may stay tough and chewy even after they simmer for hours.

So the conclusion is, if our beans remain wrinkly after soaking overnight, it just might be a case of them being too old. Given that at the time you've only soaked them for less than 10 minutes, I'd say they were probably okay and simply needed to soak longer.

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