Does Adding Baking Soda to Soaking Beans Reduce Gas?

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Helps acid reflux or GERD

Research shows that baking soda can counteract aci
Research shows that baking soda can counteract acid reflux.

Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee exacerbate gastroesophageal reflux according to a German study. However, coffee creates more reflux than simply caffeine added to water. This suggests that other components of coffee contribute to acid reflux. A small pinch of baking soda can help counteract acid reflux.

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Why Some Beans Are Hard, and Stay Hard

Debbie Wee

But everyone's cooked beans and found some that seemingly refuse to become soft. There are a couple of reasons for this phenomenon. Bean hardness is a hot topic in bean science, specifically the phenomenon of H.T.C. beans. Many bean scientists classify beans as either easy-to-cook (E.T.C.) or hard-to-cook (H.T.C.). H.T.C. beans don't soften even after cooking because their pectin remains insoluble (although their starches also fail to gelatinize properly). H.T.C. beans are often the result of long storage times and/or storage in conditions of high humidity or temperature. However, if you brine H.T.C. beans before cooking them, they will cook faster and have a better final texture, and, in addition, they will have greater nutrient availability.

The hardening of the bean pectin takes place primarily because of two enzymatic reactions. An enzyme called phytase releases calcium and magnesium ions from the lamella, and these ions quickly encounter and attach to pectin molecules, which ends up strengthening the pectin. A second enzyme, called pectin esterase, will modify the pectin, too, making it even more resistant to being dissolved. The chemistry of pectin is quite complex, but for our purposes, the first enzymatic reaction is the one I want to focus on.

Since calcium and magnesium are partially responsible for hardening the pectin in beans, I reasoned that if there was a way to pop them out, I could destabilize the pectin and thereby the integrity of the bean, making it softer and fully tender with a shorter cooking time. And, of course, the reason why I focused on this element of bean hardness is that there's a simple way to remove those ions from the pectin.

If you’ve cleaned tarnished silver or copper utensils, you know that you can make them shiny all over again simply by dropping them into a pot of water mixed with salt and baking soda. The way this works is that, over time, silver and copper utensils become oxidized and develop a patina as the metal reacts with chemicals present in the air. When the tarnished utensils are treated with salt and baking soda, the sodium ions present in the solution displaces the silver in the tarnish and restores the metal back to its original state, and the utensil becomes shiny again. This reaction is called a displacement reaction.

The sodium present in salt (sodium chloride) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) will perform a similar displacement reaction with any calcium and magnesium ions present in a bean's pectin. As soon as they come into contact, the sodium takes the place of calcium and magnesium, and the pectin consequently becomes more soluble.

Therefore, prior to cooking, beans can be soaked in brine made of either salt or baking soda. In addition, depending on the texture desired in a dish, beans can be either boiled in a pot of salted water or water to which a bit of baking soda has been added. The brine provides an environment where the sodium is in excess and helps push this transformation forward.

Coffee is fairly acidic on a pH scale

Coffee has a pH of five, and baking soda can help
Coffee has a pH of five, and baking soda can help neutralize it.

Acidity is something that’s measured on the pH scale, which uses 7.0 as an indicator of neutrality. So, numbers under seven as are naturally more acidic than numbers above seven. For instance, according to Science Buddies, battery acid is zero. Clearly, that’s highly acidic. Lemon juice registers at about two, and black coffee registers at a pH of about five. But rather than kicking your “acidic” coffee habit — and there are clearly good reasons to keep drinking coffee — why not neutralize the acid in your brew?

Does baking soda have any other effects on the chickpeas?

Baking soda can make chickpeas easier to digest

Some people say that adding baking soda to your chickpeas can also help to reduce any stomach discomfort that may be caused by eating pulses.

For a lot of people, it’s a type of sugar called oligosaccharides, found in chickpeas, which can cause uncomfortable gas and stomach pains. Soaking the chickpeas thoroughly helps to reduce the quantity of this sugar in the chickpeas by up to 40% (Njoumi, Amiot, Rochette, Bellagha & Mouquet-Rivier, 2019). It seems reasonable that if baking soda helps the soaking process, it could also help to reduce the oligosaccharides in the chickpeas.

Baking soda could possibly alter the chickpeas’ nutrition

There’s also some evidence that adding baking soda to chickpeas can alter their nutritional content. Specifically, it can reduce the B vitamins in the chickpeas. As long as you eat an otherwise balanced diet, this small reduction in vitamins shouldn’t be a huge concern. However, if you do struggle to eat enough B vitamins anyway (for example, if you eat a vegan diet), you may prefer to skip the baking soda, and keep the B vitamins instead.

The Experimental Setup

To evaluate the beans, I set up three groups for each type: Water, Salted Water (15g in 1 L), and Baking Soda (5g in 1 L). The amount of salt used in these experiments comes from Kenji’s previous work on Serious Eats and the baking soda from a research paper published in Food Research International. To see how beans performed in a brine with a combination of baking soda and salt, I added one more group to the experiment, a salt and baking soda brine (15g salt with 5g baking soda in 1L of water).

To monitor how the beans performed, I measured the total dry weights of the beans and then both their raw and cooked wet weights after 24 hours. To give each bean a fair chance of starting out under similar conditions, I removed any beans that displayed any cracks or damage to their skins. To avoid any interference from salts that might be present in tap water (hard water contains a lot of calcium and magnesium, although, given the amount of sodium in the brines, the effect should have been negligible), I used filtered water in the brines. The beans were soaked at room temperature.

Both raw and cooked beans were rinsed gently with water and left to sit on dry pieces of absorbent paper towels for one minute before they were weighed to remove any excess water and get a more consistent measure.

The soaked beans were rinsed to remove any traces of the salts and then cooked in plain filtered water until tender. The endpoint for cooking beans was subjective; I determined the bean doneness by pressing them to see if they were tender all the way through.

How much baking soda should you put in coffee?

You only need to put a small pinch of baking soda in your coffee to neutralize the acid to a scale that makes it easy on the stomach. Don’t add more than a pinch, as it will ruin the taste of your coffee and you need to go easy on baking soda consumption anyway.

Is Baking Soda Good For Alkalizing The Body?

Baking soda has an alkalizing effect, which means it eliminates the acids in acidic substances. Research is currently being done in the usefulness of baking soda to slow down the growth of cancer cells.

While it is known that cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment, there is insufficient evidence to show the efficiency of baking soda in cancer treatment.

In addition to the benefits discussed above, baking soda can be used as a mouthwash as well. The compound has a proven antibacterial and antimicrobial property, which makes it useful when you suffer from gum problems or even an abscess (at least until you can see your dentist).

Sodium bicarbonate is also a popular supplement among athletes, as some studies indicate it may improve athletic performance. It has proven especially effective for high-intensity training and sprinting.

And if you suffer from a bad sunburn, you may be finding a use for sodium bicarbonate as well. The ingredient proves effective for the reduction of itchiness, not solely from sunburns, but also from other skin conditions.

Simply add a 1 cup of the compound to your regular bath and let it works its magic.

The health benefits of sodium bicarbonate are not limited to the benefits we mentioned above. In fact, there are so many, it is very difficult to mention them all in great detail here. From the treatment of calluses to slowing the progression of kidney disease, the applications are endless.

When should you add baking soda to chickpeas?

Most recipes recommend adding baking soda to the water while soaking your dried chickpeas, as opposed to while they’re cooking. There are two common methods for soaking chickpeas:

  1. Soak your chickpeas overnight in plenty of cold water. Baking soda should be added at the beginning of the soaking time.
  2. Cover chickpeas with water, bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to soak for 1 hour. Baking soda should be added when the pan is removed from the heat.

Obviously the second method is quicker, but requires slightly more hands-on effort, so it totally depends which method suits you best.

Adding the baking soda while the chickpeas are soaking means you can then rinse them thoroughly before cooking with any other ingredients (just remember to wait until the chickpeas are cooked before adding anything acidic!). Baking soda doesn’t have a particularly pleasant taste, so rinsing is helpful.

You can then proceed to boil your chickpeas as usual, until they are completely soft. Adding the baking soda while the chickpeas are cooking (as opposed to while they’re soaking) can lead to mushy chickpeas.

Tips

Tips

  • Check the alkalinity and the pH of your pool every week to see if you need to make adjustments.

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