A. Soaking beans overnight to soften them is recommended, but it is not required. Soaking beans softens the starches in the beans which allow them to cook more quickly, but if beans are not pre-soaked it just means that they will take longer to cook. Also remember that adding an acid like tomato juice or vinegar extends the cooking time so avoid adding any acids until later in the cooking process. It has been said that pre-soaking beans removes components in the bean that cause flatulence, but there is no medical proof to confirm this. When in a situation where you want your beans to cook more quickly, one solution is to soak them in hot water. I’ve used my coffee pot on more than a few occasions. Just fill your coffee pot with water, add the beans to the pot and start it. The temperature of water needed to brew coffee should be at least 190°F which provides an optimal environment for “speed soaking.” Let the beans speed soak for an hour or so on the coffee warming plate which should significantly reduce the cooking time.
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