How to Cook Dried Pulses and Grains

So you’ve been wanting to reduce your environmental footprint by switching to dried pulses and grains. You’ve popped into FoodLoose and bought all of your supplies, but now what? How do you actually turn these dried goods into soft, tender beans?

The following guide will help you master the art of cooking dried pulses and grains.

General Notes:

  • Beans and pulses approximately double in size when cooked. Grains grow to three times their dry weight. Be mindful of this when substituting canned pulses and grains in recipes.
  • You don’t HAVE to soak your beans but it is generally recommended. I’ll share some faster ways of doing this later.
  • Different beans take slightly different amounts of time to cook (e.g. chickpeas take the longest, while lentils are ready relatively quickly). Here is a really helpful chart to show the different cooking times you can expect for your beans.
  • Do not salt your beans until they’re soft enough to taste (you’re looking for the al dente version of beans)! Adding salt too early makes them firm. Similarly, don’t add anything too salty or acidic (like tomatoes, citrus or vinegar) until the end.

BEANS:

  1. Rinse thoroughly.
  2. Cover beans in plenty of water (3-4 times as much water as beans).
  3. Soak overnight in the fridge or use the Quick Soak Method.*
  4. Remove any that floated to the top.
  5. Place drained beans in a saucepan with fresh water and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the beans are soft enough to taste. Salt your beans.
  7. Simmer until the beans are nice and soft. The overall cooking time will depend on your beans but it’ll generally take anywhere between 45 minutes to 2 hours.
  8. Drain and enjoy!

* Quick Soak Method: Put your beans in a pot of water. Bring to a boil and cover with a lid. Remove from heat and let the beans sit for 1 hour. Continue with the rest of the recipe.


OTHER PULSES:

  1. Rinse thoroughly.
  2. Pulses other than beans (e.g. lentils) don’t need to be soaked.
  3. Place pulses in a pot and cover them with 3-4 times as much water as lentils.
  4. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Drain the water and enjoy!

Note that red lentils cook faster than green, brown or black lentils. To avoid them going mushy, make sure to remove them from the heat after 15-20 minutes.


GRAINS

Couscous: Place one portion of couscous into a heatproof bowl. Add slightly more boiling water than couscous into the bowl. Cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve immediately (it doesn’t reheat well).

Quinoa and Bulgur Wheat: Wash thoroughly. Place in a pot with twice as much water as grain. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until all the water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork.

One portion is approximately 60-80g of dried grains.


Please leave any other tips and tricks you may have in the comments below.

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