How to Ferment Pinto Beans

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Things You'll Need

  • 3 cups pinto beans, canned or cooked and drained

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tbsp. sea salt

  • 4 tbsp. whey

  • Bowl

  • Fork

  • Spoon

  • Quart-sized jar and lid

Fermented pinto beans can be eaten as a condiment with any meal as a sauce or used as a dip with chips.

Fermented beans are a traditional condiment in many eastern Asian cultures. Pinto beans are not traditional to any Asian recipe, but can be fermented to create the same effect and flavors as traditional recipes. Soy beans are the traditional bean used in Asia. The liquid that comes from soy bean fermentation is soy sauce. Any bean will ferment well because of the high protein content. Salt aids in the flavors of fermented beans because I creates an umami flavor when combined with the fermented flavors.


Step 1

Put the pinto beans, onion, garlic, salt and whey in the bowl and stir it together with a spoon until combined.

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Step 2

Press the beans and ingredients together slightly with the fork. Do not mash the ingredients, but slightly tear some of the skin on the beans and press the onion pieces so that they become slightly moist.


Step 3

Pour the mixture into the quart-sized jar. Leave 1 inch of head space at the top and tightly put the lid on.

Step 4

Leave the jar at room temperature to ferment for 3 days. Open the lid slightly and tighten it again if you see that the lid starts to pop up. Move to the refrigerator for up to 60 days.


Whey is the ingredient that causes the fermentation and must be added for fermentation to occur quickly. It can be purchased at most health food stores. Make sure that is it not a flavored whey meant for use in protein shakes. If you cannot find it unflavored, place the filled jar in the sun and allow at least two weeks for fermentation to occur.

If you taste the beans right after they have fermented, before cooling, they will feel a little fizzy in your mouth. This is normal and will go away with cooling and resting.

Pressing the ingredients together and tearing the bean skin aids in speeding up the fermentation process by helping the moisture and juices to come out of the individual ingredient. If you prefer to keep the beans completely whole without the skin torn, add two additional days of fermentation.

The beans may be a little slimy after fermentation; this is normal.

You can also make a bean paste from this recipe by adding all ingredients to a food processor and blending before fermenting.

If you increase the size of the recipe, divide it into multiple quart-sized jars instead of one large jar to ferment properly.


It is important to keep an eye on the beans as they ferment. If the lid starts to pop out, slightly open it just a little to release some of the gasses. If you allow the gasses to build up without releasing, the gasses may blow off the lid and the beans will spray out of the jar.


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