Eating uncooked kidney beans

I bought some dried Kidney Beans from Whole Foods and soaked them for 8 hours and added them into a Coleslaw salad recipe and they taste terrible. I am trying to keep them as raw as possible to get the most nutrition out of them. Any suggestions on what else I can do to make them a bit tastier?

Thanks,
Debby Stimmler-Coupland
San Carlos, CA

*****

Sassy Sez: Hi Debby! So glad you wrote about your raw kidney bean dilemma.

First and foremost, you MUST cook kidney beans before eating them. Why? Because they contain a toxin that can only be destroyed by cooking them thoroughly.

I came across this information long ago, and added it to my website. Little did I know how important this information would be!

It wasn't long before I received this note:

"Thanks for posting the warning to people about the dangers of dried Red Kidney Beans eaten uncooked. I found this out the hard way a few years ago. I soaked them but used them raw in the recipe. There was nothing on the dried bean package about any danger, and I read the recipe instructions wrong. My husband and I both got sick learning this the hard way. You can't tell while eating them that you will get sick."
-- Jona F., Hermitage, Tennessee


It's interesting to note that you don't have to eat a lot of these beans in order to trigger symptoms -- even as few as four or five raw beans can do the trick.

What exactly can happen if you eat raw kidney beans?

How about horrendous nausea, vomiting (which can be severe). Then about an hour later diarrhea steps in along with some tummy pains. Sometimes it gets so bad you are hospitalized! Fortunately, you recover quite quickly from the whole ordeal.

Most beans can have this challenge to some extent, but red kidney beans seem to be the biggest culprit since they have the greatest amount of this toxin.

It's QUITE surprising there are no warnings on the packages of dried kidney beans - maybe we should start a movement!

Debby, you will get the MOST nutrition out of any bean by cooking them first.

Find complete instructions for shopping for your beans, soaking them, cooking, and also flavoring your beans on my How To Cook Beans page.

Hope this helps. Cook those beans, girlfriend! :)
xo

Comments for Eating uncooked kidney beans

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Jan 04, 2012
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bewildered
by: Anonymous

Good information, however, I didn't see how to cook them on the stove instructions.

Jan 09, 2012
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:)
by: Sassy

Bewildered, is this what you're looking for?...

Cooking beans without a pressure cooker

Cooking beans with a pressure cooker

XO

Feb 28, 2012
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sodium content of red kidney beans
by: Anonymous

I just read that red kidney beans have a high sodium content. I think maybe they meant canned beans but the article did not say. I cook all my beans myself because I thought the sodium content would be lower plus, as you say, they just taste better. Do you have any information about that?

Mar 05, 2012
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You are correct!
by: Sassy

Yes, my sweet, they mean canned beans. ;)

Jun 14, 2012
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what about FRESH kidney beans?
by: Anonymous

I am looking for info on cooking and/or freezing freshly shelled kidney beans. Everything I find talks about the dangers of eating raw uncooked kidney beans, but when I look further they are always talking about raw DRIED kidney beans. I have 5 lbs of freshly shelled kidney beans and I was just steaming them and they taste wonderful. Just don't know whether I should cook them longer and how to freeze them.

Jun 15, 2012
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Hmmmm...
by: Sassy

Well, dried or not, all beans start out like this when they're "born". So I would imagine they still must be cooked, but I don't think they need to be soaked first.

But maybe someone will come along who knows for sures? xo!


Jun 21, 2012
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I just ate raw kidney beans...
by: Phoebe

For lunch yesterday I ate around 15 raw (soaked) kidney beans in a bean dip and became really ill.. Nausea, diarrhea, light headed, chills, etc. I had no idea that raw kidney beans would cause such harm. I started Googling a few hours after getting sick to find out what it could possibly be and realized that it had to be the kidney beans that did it.

I agree with you, that it's VERY surprising there's not a warning on the bag...

Overall, I feel better today (about 20 hours later) but still not 100%.

Jun 21, 2012
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Oh no!
by: Sassy

Oh, Phoebe, that's terrible to hear! So glad you're feeling better today. I don't know why there isn't a warning. Maybe it's just something they think we're expected to know.

Crazy. :-/

Nov 18, 2012
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Raw Beans
by: Mike

i ate around half a can of kidney beans and oh lord my stomach Kills

Dec 18, 2012
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Cooking Beans the "right" way
by: Nan who is a vegan

Dear Sassy, I received a new crock pot for Hanukkah and don't know how to cook beans in it. Can you provide a recipe for pinto or black beans, my two favorites?
Love your newsletter and wish you a serene, joyous, and health enhanced New Year! Nan

Dec 18, 2012
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Canned beans
by: Elin

Thanks for a helpful website Sassy! One more question on the digestion subject.

I know you prefer to cook beans by yourself. In case I do buy canned kidney beans though, can I eat them straight from the can? Are canned beans cooked or just soaked?

Thanks for being such an inspiring coach!

Jul 03, 2013
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Raw kidney beans wont kill you!!
by: Stevie

I eat them all the time . Straight out of the can (the whole can sometimes) and they've NEVER EVER made me sick.
Id say some people may have a aensivity to legumes or just kidney beans. but important here to tell you its not completely true.. Just saying.

Jul 05, 2013
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Canned beans are ready to go
by: Sassy

Elin, If you're eating your beans from a can, they have been pre-cooked. You just heat and eat. :)

Aug 07, 2013
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kidney beans
by: Elizabeth

are bean sprouts dangerous as well?

Aug 11, 2013
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Sprouts
by: Sassy

Hi Elizabeth!

Good question. The beans undergo a change when sprouted, just as they do when they're cooked, so eating the sprouts is not something to be worried about.

xo!
Sass

Sep 17, 2013
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MUST COOK!
by: Kristin

I sprouted kidney beans and ate them with a salad. Not long after I became horribly ill, with severe cramping, nausea, bloating and constipation for days. I have had problems with bloating since then and it has been months. Do not eat them in anyway unless they are cooked!!!

Sep 17, 2013
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bean sprouts
by: Anonymous

Thank You Kristin for sharing. It sounds like uncooked or sprouted kidney beans are not worth the risk of getting sick.

Jan 05, 2014
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So sick
by: Anonymous

I started a new diet and after a week tried cooking my own beans. I went to 3 sites for directions and none of them warned of the prime importance of the brisk boil. I cooked mine in the slow cooker on HIGH and was I ever sick!

Jan 07, 2014
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Ack!
by: Sassy

Yikes! How horrible! It's true, it is best to boil your pre-soaked kidney beans for 10-15 minutes before adding them to your slow cooker to complete the cooking process.

Jan 10, 2014
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Fresh kidney beans
by: Anne

Someone asked about whether fresh kidney beans were equivalent to dried kidney beans. They are. Fresh kidney beans must be cooked.

Jan 11, 2014
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Awesome
by: Sassy

Thanks, Anne, for sharing your expertise. :)

Feb 26, 2014
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out of munchies
by: Anonymous

Damn :( I had a little craving for munchies but the only thing I had around was a bag of dry red beans... I ate a hand full, one at a time... it was tasting all nice and crunchy, but then I suddenly felt like I would vomit ... nooooo :( I don't have time to get sick :((((( how come my mom never told me not to eat dry beans when I was young ... hélas...

May 26, 2014
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small red beans...
by: Anonymous

Is it also risky to eat organic small red beans? I imagine so as they look like a mini version of kidney beans, without the kidney shape. What about lentils? Are they ok to pre-soak and eat... just that I'm on raw only for a few days following a full cleanse. Many thanks! ;)

May 27, 2014
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Sprout your beans and lentils
by: Sassy

Hi there!

Congrats on completing your cleanse. Yes, all beans and lentils must be cooked before eating. :)

Oct 09, 2014
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BEANS
by: Joyce

Sassy.. I love your Bean Book and made the veggie chili... so tasty.. but I am wondering why you had me add whole cashews?.. looked odd in the dish... Did you mean to food process first?..
anyway.. you're the best.. I am now a bean expert.. OH and did you hear that adding coriander in when cooking beans boosts the nutrients?.. and.. IF you cook your beans in kombu, less... much less gas

Oct 10, 2014
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Cashews in chili
by: Sassy

Hi Joyce!

Glad you like Cool Beans. That's...cool beans! :)

Okay, so firstly, yes the recipe is correct -- I use whole cashews. But you can also use cashew pieces. If you stir the cashews into the chili early in the cooking process, it softens them and makes for an amazing texture and flavor. Same with the raisins, if using -- add early in the cooking so they can plump and explode in your mouth. :)

That said, you can certainly grind your cashews if you would like -- just know this will likely thicken your chili further so you may need to add more liquid (like veg broth or water).

Didn't know that about coriander boosting the bean nutrients! I despise coriander and cilantro, so it's good for others to know this awesome tip. :)

Yes, a couple inches of kombu added when cooking up your beans helps to make them more digestible. And it also adds some important iodine most of us could use. :)

Great to hear from you, Joyce!
Hugs,
Sassy

Dec 17, 2014
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Mild reaction to eating uncooked kidney beans
by: English Sam

Many years ago, when I was an opinionated but ignorant young bachelor, I soaked some dried kidney beans in preparation for making chili con carne. I had already learned that this way, much more flavour and a better texture resulted, instead of using the sloppy contents of a pre-cooked tin.
Intrigued by the aroma and luscious appearance of the soaked but uncooked beans, I tried a few. Ironically, I did actually know that thorough boiling was necessary to denature the ricin toxin the fresh beans contain, but somehow this did not occur to me when I decided to see how they tasted "raw" - they tasted great, but of course they were very chewy! I only ate a few beans this way, then went on to boil them to use in my chili.
Over the next few days, my skin became almost unbearably itchy, apparently without explanation, until the thought occurred to me some months later, that maybe I had mildly poisoned myself! I still cannot be sure if I had.

Mar 16, 2015
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Bad to eat raw beans
by: A glutton

I just googled ''how bad is it to eat raw beans'' and I just came across this. I had tons of them for lunch in my veggie soup. The scarlet red runners; they were barely cooked and I really enjoyed their crispiness, plus I grew them organically.... OOhhh, yeah!!! Well, I am sick like a dog right now! I have terrible tummy pain. I haven't had diarrhea yet but I am nauseous like I've never been before! And never mind the stinky ''concert'' already playing... My husband is gone love that tonight! I think I'l sleep on the sofa tonight!!! NEVER AGAIN I WILL EAT BLANCHED BEANS! I should have googled about this before I pigged!

Mar 17, 2015
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Raw kidney beans contain Ricin!
by: Sam

I learned a long time ago that raw kidney beans contain an organic toxin called ricin, poisonous certainly to Homo Sapiens, and probably to other mammals as well. Boiling in water for at least 15 minutes denatures the toxin, making the beans harmless.
I've never had access to fresh raw (undried) beans, so I don't know how best to prepare them, but it should be remembered that ALL kidney beans in an uncooked state will contain ricin, and so should not be consumed. There was an infamous assassination in London many years ago, when a man was murdered on the street by being stuck in the leg by an umbrella spike loaded with ricin - real-life James Bond stuff!
Also I am convinced that I came close to seriously harming myself (unintentionally) by eating a few rehydrated but raw beans - soaked in preparation for making chilli con carne - because I wondered what they tasted like. I suffered from unbearable skin itching for days after, although I didn't make the connection until some time later, when I heard about ricin's toxic effects.
In my long experience, soaking dried kidney beans overnight, in preparation for boiling in water (without salt, as it toughens the beans) for at least an hour, will provide you with beans suitable for adding to a dish for ongoing cooking, and will be very tasty, and retaining a firm texture. Cooking to an edible texture requires at least 2 hours' cooking in total.
Personally I hate tinned beans, because they have been cooked to death, presumably for safety, have very little flavour and turn to mush with any further cooking.
Treat kidney beans with the respect they deserve, and they will provide you with much flavoursome and healthy eating.

Apr 10, 2015
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natural vs cultural ... cult root word
by: Anonymous

If they must be cooked they are not a natural human food but a cultural human food. Considering the bounty of foods suitable they will not be missed. We became full of ourselves and live in houses and "own" land, drink wine etc and consider ourselves sophisticated while the rape of the world and the peoples right to land for food and shelter languish.

May 05, 2015
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RAW Kidney Beans are HARMFUL!
by: English Sam

As far as I know (and I do not pretend to be a food expert, simply an interested consumer), kidney beans differ from most other lentils in containing ricin when in the raw state. It may be the only one that does; I do not know.

Other lentils, red, green, brown, puy or whatever, may be quite harmless and probably very nutritious when consumed in the raw state - please, please, be very wary of raw kidney beans - they are dangerous!

You may recall there was an incident widely publicised in the wake of 9/11, where terrorists were supposedly found to be preparing ricin manufactured from (raw) kidney beans, with which to attack targets - what more proof of the danger does anyone need?

Properly cooked kidney beans (minimum 15 minutes' boiling) are good for you; a very good source of tasty protein, but RAW? No, No!

May 18, 2015
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Peas ain't beans
by: MacBeannie

Lentils are peas, not beans.

Aug 20, 2015
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CASTOR BEANS have ricin NOT kidney
by: Anonymous

ENGLISH SAM
It was Castor Beans they found...not Kidney beans...

Sep 07, 2015
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Not a good way to lose weight
by: Anonymous

I made 15 bean soup from dried beans, soaked them over night, boiled them in the morning, put them on high in slow cooker for about 5 hours. We ate some for lunch some of the beans were kind of still crunchy but not bad, sooo I had 2 bowls full. I had some more for dinner but they were cooked more. Oh wow the next day was the worse day of my life.I made so many trips to the bathroom ALL Day long in 1 1/2 days
I lost 6 lbs. I believe the under cooked beans the (lectins) really did a number on my intestines it took really 3 weeks to heal. ( but lost 10-12 lbs) I would not recommend this for weight lose though.. Don't eat under cooked dry beans

Cathy

Jan 26, 2016
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Yikes!
by: Alyssa

We're talking red kidney beans from a can? That can cause this?!

Jan 26, 2016
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i ate a lot of them
by: Anonymous

I ate some 100 g of row beans...and i feel like dying. dizziness, nausea, i feel like vomiting... oh. i should have read about beans.

Jan 26, 2016
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hey
by: Anonymous

those from the can are boiled and you can eat them. there are also the dry ones; they should be first sooked and then cooked.

Apr 11, 2016
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Learning to cook red beans correctly
by: Judy


Never knew about the toxicity in red beans.

Jul 26, 2016
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Raw and semi cooked or sprouted kidney beans are toxic
by: Lizz

Raw kidney beans are poisonous to humans, semi cooked are actually more poisonous as the partial cooking has caused the toxic enzyme present to start to break down which makes its bio-availability higher.

To ensure a kidney bean is safe it must be boiled for fifteen to twenty minutes and then cooked for a further 45 minutes to 2 hours. The older the bean the longer the cooking will need to be.

If you buy tinned kidney beans they will have been cooked and they will no longer contain the toxicity of uncooked beans. If you have fresh kidney beans they still must be cooked as above to eliminate the toxin.

Different beans and legumes more widely, have differnt bio-chemical composition so require different treatment to render them edible. Some respond well to sprouting. Kidney beans can't be eaten as sprouts.

In the worst cases kidney bean poisoning has resulted in death. Don't mess around with it.

Jul 27, 2016
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Just to clarify...
by: Sassy

Thanks, Lizz. It's my understanding (and in my personal experience cooking beans -- including red kidney beans -- for over 20 years ) that red kidneys only have to be boiled first for 10-15 minutes before slow cooking.

There is no need to boil them first before completely cooking them with other methods such as boiling and pressure cooking.

That said, your beans should be pre-soaked in water for at least 8-12 hours (although I soak them for 24 hours) before cooking. Not sure if your method involves pre-soaking. If not, red kidneys usually take longer to boil than 45 minutes to 1 hour.

xo!

Sep 10, 2016
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Lentils Don't Need Cookex
by: Anonymous

I saw your response to someone regarding lentils also needing to be cooked...lentils are a legume, not a bean, and no, they do not need to be cooked. I was raw vegan for quite some time and would eat sprouted lentil chili and never got sick once. Sprouting lentils a bit first helps aid in digesting them, however.

Sep 18, 2016
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Sprouted is not the same as raw dried
by: Sassy

Correct, lentils do not have to be cooked if they are sprouted. They cannot be eaten as is though -- they must be processed in some way whether sprouted or cooked. Thanks for pointing that out. :)

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