Reducing Sodium in Canned Beans

Canned Beans Embroidery

While trying to come up with a restaurant to review today for Menu Monday, I just wasn’t “feeling it.”  Perhaps that’s because Thanksgiving is upon us. Cooking and eating at home with friends and family is the hallmark of this holiday, of course, so the idea of eating out just feels a bit oogie right now.

A few weeks back, Cynthia Harriman, the Director of Food and Nutrition Strategies at the Old Ways Preservation Trust, sent me some useful info about reducing sodium in canned beans. This seems like as good a time as any to share it with you.

Bush’s Beans compared the amount of sodium remaining after five different consumer preparation methods:

1 – The whole can (beans & brine: the baseline)

2 – Drain (pour off the brine, don’t rinse the beans).

3 – Rinse for 30 seconds (pour off brine, rinse beans in a collander for 30 seconds)

4 – Rinse for 60 seconds (pour off brine, rinse beans in a collander for 60 seconds)

5 – Soak for 30 minutes (pour off brine, rinse beans for 30 seconds, soak for 30 minutes, drain in a collander).

They found that, on average, rinsing for 30 seconds reduced the sodium by about 20%, rinsing for 60 seconds reduced it by about 27%, and the 30-minute soak reduced the sodium by about 45%.

Simply draining the beans (and not rinsing) removed only about 8%.

The moral of the story?  At the very least, rinse those beans well!  If you’ve got the time, go for the full 30-minute soak.

Of course, the best way to limit the sodium content in your beans is to buy dried beans in bulk and prepare them yourself. It’s easy, but you have to start the night before.

Here’s the one-page summary of the study (PDF).

Image/Embroidery by Totally Severe.

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7 Responses to Reducing Sodium in Canned Beans

  1. Mike November 26, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    Rinsing is definitely a step in the right direction when dealing with canned anything (as long as it’s rinse-able). At this stage, I’ve basically stopped cooking with salt altogether since it ends up sneaking into our recipes anyway.

  2. John February 24, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    I’ve been eating primarily beans and vegan since June and have tried and tried dried beans to lower sodium, but they really never get the taste nor the texture of the canned beans. Dried are always more starchy tasting. I’ve soaked 1 and even 2 days and never liked the results with dried beans.

    • Hilde April 28, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

      Why don’t you buy salt free beans from EDEN? Or use dried Adzuki beans, you don’t need to soak them. They cook in 45 minutes or in 4 hours in a slow cooker.

  3. kara November 22, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    Thanks for passing this info along. I usually rinse the beans in a strainer for about 20 seconds. Not so good…

    • Andrew November 23, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

      Hey Kara — At least you’re rinsing the beans! I would actually love to know the effects of soaking the beans for just five minutes… since that’s short enough that you don’t really need to plan ahead (unlike 30 minutes). But I figure even a few minutes of soaking is likely to make a difference (it’ll be somewhere between 27% and 45%!). Seems like an easy change to make, thankfully. :)


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