Pinto beans are used widely in the American diet in various forms. They are used in chilies, as a side-dish cooked with bacon and garlic, or in most refried beans. They are delicious and creamy and can take on whatever flavors are added to them, making them quite versatile.
Pinto beans are a legume, just like the other beans you might be familiar with. Because of this they naturally contain certain anti-nutrients that protect them. One of these is phytic acid and another is enzyme inhibitors. Both of these can make legumes hard to digest and problematic if legumes are a huge part of the diet.
One solution to that problem is sprouting. When sprouted, pinto beans not only have those negative properties neutralized, they also have their positive attributes - namely vitamin and protein content - enhanced.
Pinto beans are known to be difficult to sprout. The pinto bean is grown most widely for long-cooked soups and other dishes. Because of that, it is simply not as prone to sprouting as other varieties of pinto beans.
Like other beans, you only want to sprout the bean a little bit. One quarter inch of sprout is enough to get the job done. Because of their lower germination rate, you can consider your sprouts done even if only 50% of them have sprouted.
The Pinto Bean Sprouting Process
- First you need to decide how far you want to take the sprouting process. For all cooking purposes I recommend using a shorter-sprouted pinto bean. For raw eating in salads or sandwiches you can do a longer sprout.
- The longer sprout will take up a lot more room and so you will need a larger vessel for sprouting. I recommend either a large colander or a gallon jar for two cups of long-sprouted pinto beans. For the short-sprouted pinto beans you can use a quart or half-gallon jar.
- Your first step is to rinse and soak the pinto beans overnight. This starts the sprouting process by waking them up with rehydration.
- In the morning drain and rinse the pinto beans thoroughly. If you are using a jar with a sprouting screen you will now invert that jar to allow any extra water to run off. If you are using a colander you will leave this over a bowl or sink and cover it with a towel in order to keep airflow going while keeping bugs out.
- Later in the day you will want to rinse and drain the pinto beans again. Two to three times per day is optimal, always rinsing more frequently in warmer weather.
- You will repeat this rinsing and draining process two to three times per day until the pinto beans have sprouted to the length you desire. For short-sprouted pinto beans (ideal for soups, stews, etc.) this should take around three days. For longer sprouted pinto beans this could take up to six days.
- Once your pinto beans are sprouted to your liking give them one last good rinse and really good drain. You will notice that the skins have come off of many of the beans. This is normal and you can either pick the skins out or leave them in as they do not affect the flavor or digestion. Then you can store them in the refrigerator for around a week or until you are ready to use them.