Cooking Tips

How to select good pulses

It is convenient to choose your pulses, they must be clean, without foreign objects such as stones, sticks …

Even though the only way to know if the quality of the pulse is good is by testing it;  there are some signs that can help us detect a quality pulse.

Visiting a dedicated professional, i.e. a pulse salesperson, is one of the safest ways to find  good quality pulses.

Look into the origins of crops to find out where the pulse have always been grown. This will indicate whether it comes from a good selection of seed and if there has been homogeneity between crops.

Pulses, especially chickpea and lentils, are better suited to colder climates.

Look for pulses as fresh as possible, 1 year since harvest.

For these reasons, U.S. pulses always maintain high quality standards, providing us a quality pulse, which keeps its skin during cooking, assuring a whole, tender and tasty result.

Although the only way to know if the quality of a  pulse is good, is by testing it.

Washing

Wash your pulses in a strainer before soaking to eliminate particles and any floating pulses.

Soaking

This step is crucial, because it reduces the cooking time.The oligosaccharides, which cause flatulence, are eliminated too. It will also make digestion lighter and “cleaner”.

Pulses will double or triple in volume, so make sure they have enough space and water to grow.

Ideally, soak them overnight before preparing them. They should be left in a cold place or in the fridge, to avoid fermentation.

The soaking time has to be a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 12 hours, as a general rule.

The best method is the traditional one, you obtain clean, well hydrated and plump pulses.

N

Traditional soaking method

  1. Put the beans in a saucepan, covering them with 3 time their volumn in water.
  2. Leave them to soak for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 12 hours, in a cool place.
  3. Drain the beans and discard the water (Note: cold water starts the rehydration process, but does not finish it, the beans will appear wrinkled.) They will finish rehydrating during cooking.
  4. Rinse with fresh water.
  5. They are ready to cook.
But we offer two alternative types of soaking for beans:
N

Hot soaking method

  1. Put the beans in a large saucepan and add 4 parts of water for each part of the beans
  2. Heat the saucepan until the water boils, keep it boiling for 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover and let the beans soak for 4 to 24 hours.
  4. Drain the beans, discard the soaking water.
  5. Rinse with fresh water.
  6. Ready to cook.
N

Quick method

  1. Put the beans in a large saucepan and add 4 parts of water for each part of the beans.
  2. Heat the saucepan until the water boils, keep it boiling for 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover and let the beans soak for 1 hour. “If we leave the beans in hot water for too long it could lead to a fermentation problem.”
  4. Drain the beans, pour out the soaking water.
  5. Rinse with fresh water.

It is an alternative to the slow soaking technique, more useful for community kitchens or when you are in a rush.

Cooking

Pulses while cooking increases from 2 to 2.5 times in volume. This must be taken into account when preparing the portions.

Cooking times vary according to the variety, year of harvest, altitude, type of water etc…. Although they all range between 1hour 30minutes to 2hours to cook, or around 20-30 minutes if cooked in a pressure cooker. (See table, poster, < Cooking Times>)

When they start to boil, remove the foam that forms as it contains impurities and toxins; after about 10-15 minutes cooking, you can apply the pulse “purifying” technique; which consists of cutting the cooking with cold water (changing the water) so that, the pulses have a better appearance as it helps to preserve the skin.

To cook pulses it is best to start off with cold water, with one exception; chickpeas; which should be added when the water is boiling.

Legumechef recommends to cook pulses without any other ingredient, as this optimizes cooking times at the same time that we gain in versatility to make more recipes with the same cooking (stews, burgers, salads…) Once we have cooked the pulses, we can finish them by adding, stir-fries, broths, more ingredients.

We recommend adding saltat the end of cooking, 10 minutes before it is ready. This way we will avoid that the pulses get “stuck” by the action of the microcrystals of the salt.

Saturated fats complicate digestion. In a dish in which the two groups of ingredients are combined, it tends to cause indigestion as it is long-digesting food. To avoid this problem, it is highly recommended to defat these products before mixing them with pulses (cooking separately, removing the layer of fat that floats in the broth).

N

Cooking time

It is difficult to give the exact cooking time since there are many variables such as the variety, the age, the hardness of the water used and the altitude of the area.

To decide the cooking time, it is necessary to consider the use that will be given to the pulses, for salads, or to freeze and use at another time, or if they are going to be cooked later in soup, in a stew, it is better that they are firm or slightly less cooked.

N

Approximate traditional cooking times

  • Black-eyed pea from 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • Kidney, Pink or White small Beans 1 to 1.5 hours
  • Small Lima bean 1 hour
  • Big lima bean 45 to 1 hour
  • Chickpeas 1 to 1.5 hours (Start with hot water)
  • Quick lentil 30 to 40 minutes
  • Peeled lentil 30 minutes
  • Split peas 45 minutes to 1 hour

* See cooking table, pulses soaking.

N

Approximate pressure cooker cooking times

With this method, the cooking time is highly reduced

The correct method that we advise from Legumechef is the same as the traditional one. Start with cold water, and once it has started to froth, 10-15 minutes, take off the froth and we can cover to start pressure cooking

This cooking method has advantages in reducing cooking time, but entails a loss of nutrients and flavor.

Take into account the cooking times, since being covered and with pressure, we cannot test the cooking point of the pulses.

With the salt, we will do the same as the traditional method.

 

  • Black-eyed pea from 20-25 minutes
  • Kidney, Pink or White small Beans 30-40 minutes
  • Small lima beans 1 hour, 30-35 minutes
  • Big lima beans 35-40 minutes
  • chickpeas 45 minutes (Start with hot water)
  • Pardina lentils 25-30 minutes
  • Peeled lentils 10-15 minutes
  • Split peas 15-20 minutes
N

Soaking chart, traditional & express cooking times

PULSESSOAKING TIMESTRADITIONAL COOKING MINUTESEXPRESS POT COOKING MINUTES
Milky White Chickpea12 hours1:30 // 2:0045
Pedrosillano Chickpea12 hours1:30//2:0045
Eston Lentil0-4 hours45-5025-30
Pardina Lentil0-4 hours45-5025-30
Regular Lentil0-4 hours45-5020-25
Yellow Pea12 hours5515-20
Green Split Pea12 hours5515-20
White Kidney Bean12 hours50-6030-40
Cranberry Bean12 hours50-6025-40
Blackeye Bean12 hours50-6020-25
Pink Bean12 hours50-6030-40
Navy Bean12 hours50-6025-35
N

Sous-vide cooking

If we have the necessary material; these are the steps to follow:

  • Hydrate pulses by soaking for 12 hours
  • Prepare a water bath between 80-90ºC.
  • Strain the pulses and measure the cooking water, we will need 3 parts of water for 1 of pulses
  • Weigh the water, and for every 100 g add  1 g of salt. ( i.e. 1% salt per weight)
  • Put the pulses in a suitable cooking bag, cover with the salted water and put the bag in the water bath, holding it down with tweezers to the edge. It is not necessary to close the bags as we need to check hoe the pulses are cooking. Another option would be to use a mason jar.
  • For the cooking time we estimate that we need at least 4 hours for most beans and up to 6 hours for chickpeas. We will check the texture of the pulses after 4 hours and see if they need more time.
  • Once the cooking is finished, let the pulses cool in their cooking water and use ice& water to cool them down as fast as possible.
N

Germinating

As pulses germinate, the enzymatic action begins to break down the nutrients stored in the seed. Therefore, when consuming them, the assimilation of these nutrients requires less work for our digestive system.

To do this, we clean the elements where we are going to germinate, as well as the seeds. A solution with hydrogen peroxide helps us clean the pulses and prepare them for germination.

Once clean, we can either semi-hydrate them or put them directly to germinate. Cover with a damp cloth and in a warm place. Over the next few days the germ will sprout. After about 3 days, they will be at their optimum point.

Now they can be semi-cooked, eaten directly or ground.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration, the agency that regulates the foods and drugs that can be marketed, recommends that children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems avoid eating vegetables, seeds and grains raw sprouts, and that if they want to do consume them it is best to cook them lightly first.

Storing & conserving

N

Dry Pulses

Dried pulses are generally easy to store and preserve. And they are always at hand, being a dry product, it is “non-perishable”. They should be stored in hermetically closed containers and in a cool, dry place and avoid direct light, especially the sun. This way they do not become rancid or change their consistency. The portion per person is 60 to 85 gr. dry weight.
N

Pre-cooked pulses

Pre-cooked pulses can be kept in the fridge, in an airtight container, for three or four days, or they can be frozen. Use the precooked pulses in salads, soups, first courses, purees or baked dishes.

When preparing a recipe with precooked pulses, you should reduce the amounts of liquid indicated in the recipe by one third to one half.

N

Cooked Pulses

Pulses can be stored once cooked, refrigerated for 3-5 days. To ensure that they lasts longer, the sooner the preparation is cools down (lower temperature), the better we ensure a proper conservation.

They also withstand freezing. Freeze in an airtight container, with the cooking broth. It can be frozen for 3-5 months without losing characteristics. For defrosting, slow defrosting in the fridge is important. For storage in the freezer, they may be slightly undercooked because freezing tends to soften them

Tips

N

Should we add bicarbonate?

By adding bicarbonate, both in soaking and/or cooking phase, will ensure the pulses come out softer, however by doing so we will also destroy some of the thiamine making the assimilation fo amino-acids harder. So even though the organoleptic side is improved, we lose some nutritional benefits in the process.
In the case of using bicarbonate; it is best to use the following proportion:1gr of bicarbonate x 1L of water x 200gr of dry legumes.

Adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the soaking water can help promote digestion.

N

The cold water trick for beans

So that the beans come out whole and soft, it is best to add cold water while they cook. Another technique is to change the water once they have come to boil, for another new. It is important not to cook them in excess, they would lose nutrients, texture, color and flavor. In the case of chickpeas, always add hot water, even when adding them to the casserole.
N

Pots & pans material

It is advisable not to use aluminum or cast iron pans. These materials tend to make cooking difficult and change the color of the product.
N

Salt

We recommend adding salt at the end of the cooking phase, 10 minutes before the pulses are ready. This way we will avoid that the pulses get “stuck” by the action of the microcrystals of the salt.
N

Saturated fats

Saturated fats complicate digestion. In a dish in which the two groups of ingredients are combined, it tends to cause indigestion as it is long-digesting food. To avoid this problem, it is highly recommended to degrease these products before mixing them with legumes (cooking separately, removing the layer of fat that floats in the broth).
N

Ingredients that facilitate the digestion of pulses

Kombu seaweed

It contains glutamic acid, softens the fibers of pulses, reduces cooking time and makes pulses more digestible. It also helpful for the digest of vegetable proteins.

Glutamic acid has a strong flavor and is the same acid that monosodium glutamate is made synthetically from. Adding about ten centimeters of this seaweed when cooking legumes is enough. At the end of cooking remove the seaweed.

Carminative Foods

A carminative is a medicine or substance that helps to reduce the generation of gases in the digestive tract and thereby reduce flatulence and colic. The effect refers to an antispasmodic effect on the smooth stomach muscles and a decreased fermentation effect in the intestinal flora.

  • Plants such as ; coriander, fennel, ginger, rosemary, thyme, chamomile …
  • Spices like; Nutmeg, cumin, anise …

Acid products

  • Incorporating tomato, lemon juice or other acidic ingredients at the beginning of cooking can increase cooking times. Add them when the pulses are already tender.
  • Some cooks find that adding salt or broth instead of water improves the flavor by receiving the salt more evenly.
  • A few drops of freshly squeezed lemon towards the end of cooking helps to reduce the earthy flavor of certain varieties of lentils.
  • Use about 20 grams of salt for every 500 g of dry pulse.
Here is a summary of our Tips to answer any unresolved questions you may have

Tips for cooking pulses: "How to make the perfect batch"

  • Once they are hydrated, discard the water. After soaking, wash the pulses.
  • Adding sodium bicarbonate improves the texture of pulses, although it limits the absorption of certain nutrients. Quantity: 1gr of Bicarbonate per liter of water
  • Cook with a little bit of water and enough space.
  • Cook with cold water and without salt. The salt clogs the pores of the seeds and they get hard. In the case of chickpeas, the water must always be boiling.
  • If there is not any water during cooking, add hot/boiling water. The necessary to cover the pulses again.
  • Rest after cooking in the water itself.
  • The small boiling bubble to prevent the pulse from breaking / damaging.
  • Taking off the foam during cooking (remove the foam from the surface) this way eliminating the greatest amounts of saponins is easier (indigestible components for the human body) and the texture will be improved.

Tips to make pulses more digestible for the human body

  • Add Kombu seaweed during cooking to soften the pulse fibers thanks to glutamic acid.
  • Consume pulses with carminative herbs (ex: cumin, fennel, coriander, sage, rosemary …) to improve the bioavailability of nutrients.
  • Finishing the dishes with sprouts helps us digestion due to their physicochemical characteristics.
  • Accompany pulses with ferments so that the body better assimilates certain nutrients.
  • Do not mix pulses with saturated fats, as they hinder their digestion.
  • Supplement pulses with whole grains / seeds to be able to synthesize methionine, an essential amino acid.
  • Consuming pulses regularly generates more specific bacterial flora for the assimilation of legumes
  • pulses without skin have less fiber and are easier to digest.