What's That Slimy Liquid In Canned Beans, And Should You Rinse It Off?

Cool beans. 👍

You know the feeling.

You open a can of beans and you're instantly met with that coating of murky liquid holding your beans in a gooey suspension. Sometimes the slime is thin and watery; sometimes it's thick and gooey. And all of the time, it looks totally gross.

What IS this stuff?! And do you need to rinse it off?

Suzy Strutner
Suzy Strutner

Turns out bean goo is less terrifying than you might think: In most cases, it's just water and salt, along with starches naturally produced by the beans.

Goya Foods, for example, cans its beans with salt and water to create a brine, which keeps them tasting fresh (in other words, the salt is a preservative). Calcium chloride (another preservative) is also added to help beans maintain their firmness and color, Goya spokesperson Jose Vasquez told HuffPost.

But if that liquid is just salt and water, then why can it get so gooey?

"The thickness of the brine comes from the beans themselves as they naturally produce starch," Teesee Moore, a spokesperson for Bush's Beans, told HuffPost.

Rinsing the liquid is a matter of personal preference. Some recipes call for canned beans AND their liquid in order to make thicker, more flavorful soups and stews (there are even dessert recipes that call for only the liquid, sans beans). But draining and rinsing the beans in a colander can lower the sodium content by about 40 percent, according to a 2009 study.

Been craving beans? Check out these recipes for kitchen inspiration:

Black Bean, Arugula + Poached Egg Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Black Bean Recipes

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