Reader Question: I've been absolutely loving Rancho Gordo beans, however, I never know if pre-soaking the beans is a necessity or if I can skip this step (especially when using a pressure cooker). I would love any advice!
Thank you so much for this question! And first, have you seen the cookbook Cool Beans? It's been on my nightstand for the past week, and I have a hunch you might like it!
But onto your question: I was a vegetarian for over a decade, and cooked my fair share of beans. There are two reasons people typically soak them: to speed up the cook time and to aid with digestion.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm lazy when it comes to soaking beans and I can never seem to plan ahead. It's true, you can save yourself some time for sure, but it never feels like enough time, you know? As for digestion, yes, beans contain sugars that can be difficult for our bodies to break down. That said, most of the research I've read is really split 50/50 in terms of whether or not soaking helps; it really depends who you talk to.
But! Pressure cooking: everyone agrees that cooking beans this way helps break down some of those sugars, making your favorite tender beans easier to digest.
I hope that helps! My short answer: forget the soaking and pressure cook! And of course, we've got a recipe for that (No Soak Pressure Cooker Beans)!