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I've soaked some beans in room temperature water overnight, since 6pm (white navy beans).

How long can I keep them in water before I must use them?

Will they last a day or so at room temperature and in water, or should I drain and store in the fridge, or must I cook with them immediately?

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It rather depends on the temperature of the room. Where I live, in the summer it gets hot and humid, and they shouldn't be out on the counter during the day, or they ferment. In winter (like spring in the northern US, 45-70 farenheit) they can be out for two days with no problem.

My recommendation would be to soak overnight for morning use, or to soak during the day for evening use. It also helps to change the water every few hours, though this isn't critical. If you refrigerate them with the water, you get an extra half-day. Refrigerating drained gets another day or so.

Either way, they should always be shaded, never in direct sunlight.

If they do spoil, you'll know, as they'll have a sour/yeasty smell to them.

  • Thanks! I knew it was best to soak overnight and use the next day, I was wondering about how long they would still be viable in a worst case scenario. So, the best way to store beans soaked overnight is to drain them and keep them in the fridge? That way they can last an additional day? – SarahVV Mar 22 '11 at 16:30
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I have soaked mine many times up to 2.5 days until I could get to them. I always plan to soak for 1 to 1.5 days (overnight then cook the next evening would be 1.5 days) but life happens so I just change the water and soak (on my countertop) another 24 hours without any problems. I do soak my beans in water with some apple cider vinegar and salt, the traditional way of soaking to remove inherent toxins. Maybe this make them last longer to soak for a longer time. Ive also soaked overnight, then realized I couldnt make them for a few days and simply put them in clean water in the refrigerator for up to 3 more days (changing the water daily).

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    I'll admit to this, with several kinds of beans. A couple 3 days for Pinto, with a boil or two, and water changes, really cuts the flatulence. A little fermentation never bothered me. It's usually yeasts. Slime goes too far. – Wayfaring Stranger Apr 25 at 23:07
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    I suspect the important things here are the changing of the water (which if tap water), and the addition of vinegar and salt. The vinegar and salt would make it less hospitable to organisms that you might pick up. Changing the water would reduce the chance of scum developing. – Joe Apr 26 at 14:29

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