I have some bags of dried beans. The instructions say, for overnight soaking:

OVERNIGHT SOAK: Rinse and sort beans in a large pot. To 1 lb. of beans (about 2 cups), add 6-8 cups cold water. Let stand overnight or at least 6 to 8 hours. Drain soak water and rinse beans.

What does it mean to sort beans, exactly?

  • 7
    A little late for April Fools, but let me point out that Stackoverflow already has over 1300 posts on this.
    – JDługosz
    Apr 3, 2016 at 16:14
  • 3
    Bean-sorting tip: don't listen to those instructions. Sort the beans before rinsing them. And don't do it in a pot, it will be much harder to see any rocks or whatever. Do it on a white plate, or if you're dealing with a lot of beans, a baking sheet.
    – Dan C
    Apr 3, 2016 at 18:25
  • 1
    I don't think a "preparation" tag is going to be useful here. If you followed through with that, you'd pretty much just end up tagging half the site preparation and half of it cooking.
    – Cascabel
    Apr 8, 2016 at 2:58

1 Answer 1


Sorting means a few things:

  • Remove foreign objects like small stones, other seeds, twigs.... that may have accidentally been packed with the beans.
  • Remove damaged (think insect damage, for example) or otherwise shrivelled, infected or moldy beans and loose skins. Hint: Hollow beans and skins float up.
  • Double-check for bug infections. Sometimes there are little hitchhikers, even if you have impeccable hygiene at home.

It boils down to making sure you have nothing in the pot that doesn't belong in your meal.

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