Greek-Style Ribs
Converting Weight to Measure

A Handful of Beans

Boiled Red Kidney Beans

Why isn't it safe to cook kidney beans in a slow cooker?

Kidney beans contain a toxin called Phytohaemagglutinin, also known as Kidney Bean Lectin, that, if the beans are not cooked properly, can cause extreme nausea, cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.  The symptoms typically start within 1 to 3 hours of ingestion and can last for up to 4 hours, or longer.  Only a few raw beans are enough to bring on symptoms.

The good news is that the toxin is destroyed by heat.  The bad news is that not all slow cookers reach a high enough temperature to do that.  In fact, under-cooking the beans can actually increase the risk from the toxin. 

For safety, raw kidney beans need to be soaked overnight, drained and then cooked in boiling water (212°F or 100°C) for at least ½ hour.  No references that I found specify if longer cooking is needed at higher altitudes, but it won't hurt to extend the time.

After the required cooking time, the drained beans are safe to a use in slow cooker recipes.  Note that commercially canned beans have already been cooked sufficiently to destroy the toxin and can be used in slow cooker or other recipes.

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