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Beans, hard water, and baking soda

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I have ultra hard water and have to either used spring water or add baking soda to the tap water. As spring water is expensive, I use baking soda (1/8 tsp for every 1 cup of water used in cooking and soaking).

Now, some sources say the baking soda destroys the thiamine in the beans, while others say 1/8 tsp isn't enough to destroy the vitamin. Some say it destroys the ability to digest the beans, others say it makes it easier to digest.

Ok, please, can someone link me a reputable site or source telling me which is true I get enough thiamine from other sources, so that isn't a worry, but I'm more curious then anything.
post #2 of 17
Have you seen this site?



post #3 of 17
How would baking soda help with hard water? Hard water is basic and baking soda is basic so it seems that you would just be making a stronger alkaline.

Anyway, we did a bunch of experiments with baking soda and green veggies in food science class and a small amount pretty much destroyed any veggie it touched. I don't know how much it would impact beans but I tend to shy away from using it any where but baking.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Baking soda means I can make beans (as the beans cook), no baking soda means I cannot (the beans never soften and after 12 hours of slow cooking or baking, the sauce and the beans are still two seperate things and the beans are still very firm). I don't know anything beyond that.

Oh well. I'm way too cheap to buy spring water to make beans
post #5 of 17
Baking soda alone w/o any heat will eventually break down fiber, but that was supposed to represent any base, so I'm not sure how its different from regular hard water. I'm about to move close to the beach with super nasty hard water, so thanks for the tip. I probably would have been very confused when I got there and none of my beans would cook.
post #6 of 17
huh, i guess that's probably why my beans are never very soft even after more than twice the recommended cooking time.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Does your water get slimy and cloudy if you leave it in a glass overnight? If it does, it's like my water; hard as a rock.
post #8 of 17
Have you thought about a filter for your faucet? If it's that bad maybe it should be tested.
post #9 of 17
I second the faucet filter!
post #10 of 17
I don't think a filter can filter out what makes water hard- dissolved minerals. I think only a water softener (which can be expensive) can do that.

I've heard baking soda softens water, too. But like beloved, I am confused how this could be. I do know that adding baking soda to my dishwashing detergent is the only way I can get my dishes clean and my glasses spot free. I would like an answer to this and the thiamine question, too. I'll look.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
A filter won't work for hard water, as Thalia said.

Thalia - I also have to add baking soda to my baths if I want the bubble bath to actually bubble.
post #12 of 17
I had really hard water in Phoenix. I resorted to getting bottled water delivered (we got refills, not a new container everytime). We couldn't do anything with the water it was awful. It smelled like mold. blech.
post #13 of 17
Originally Posted by FreshTart View Post

Does your water get slimy and cloudy if you leave it in a glass overnight? If it does, it's like my water; hard as a rock.

not that i've noticed. yours is a lot worse than mine, but our water is definitely on the hard side.
post #14 of 17
I think the baking soda does destroy the thiamine. BUT, I also think that 1/8 teaspoon is not enough to destroy all of it and if it's between using the baking soda and not making beans, use the baking soda.
post #15 of 17
Cook's Illustrated claims baking soda helps black beans retain their color instead of fading to purple. One of the linked sites dismisses this as an old wives' tale, but Cook's Illustrated doesn't rely on old wives' tales. They test everything. The amount they recommend, 1/8 teaspoon, appears to be a small enough amount, according to the linked sites, that it doesn't significantly affect the nutritional content of the beans.

They also tested the question of adding salt early or late and found that adding it early results in better-seasoned beans and doesn't keep them from softening or significantly affect the cooking time. So they say go ahead and add salt early.
post #16 of 17
Yeah, that's what we learned in culinary school too. Adding salt early is good for beans--it's BS that it makes them tough.
post #17 of 17
water softeners CAN be expensive

but having to replace your water heater ever 3 years because you don't have a water softener (the minerals in hard water will eat the metals in your water heater..) is expensive too... my family has hard water AND a water softener and we have learned by seeing neighbors w/o water softeners that while we lose a water heater every ten years, they lose one every 3-4...

and baking soda in the water? salt in the water.. i'm with the above.. we add baking soda to bean water if our water softener is malfunctioning (ie: after a power outage when the time needs reset).. and i salt my bean water
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