Cooking tips

The four basic step to prepare legumes

When cooking legumes we recommend that you follow the four following steps:

  1. Select
  2. Rinse
  3. Soak
  4. Cook

Here is a small guide to make sure all your legume dishes turn out great.

 

 

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✔ Select
It is convenient to sort through the pulses to remove any pebbles or leaves they may contain.
✔ Rinse
Wash them in a sieve, as legumes do not tend to be washed prior to being packed. Before soaking, washed them several times with cold water and remove any which may be broken or damaged. Remove any floating particles; small insects from the harvest, contaminants or dirt. Also remove any pieces which are floating on the surface, as they will probably be holed and may contain dirt.
✔ Soak

This step is very important, as it reduces cooking time and eliminates oligosaccharides, which cause flatulence. Legumes double or triple in volume depending on how the have been soaked. Ideally, they should be left to soak overnight before preparing them. They should be left in a cold place or in the fridge, to avoid fermentation. Adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the soaking water helps with digestion.
There are 3 soaking methods for beans:

  • Hot soaking method
    1. Put the beans in a large pot and add 4 parts of water for each part of beans.
    2. Heat the pot until the water boils, keep it boiling for 2 to 3 minutes.
    3. Remove the pot 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.
  • Traditional Soaking Method
    1. Put the beans in a pot and cover them with water.
    2. Let them soak for 8 hours
    3. Drain the beans and discard the soaking water.
      (Note: Cold water starts the rehydration process, but does not finish it, the beans will appear wrinkled. They will finish rehydrating during the cooking process).
    4. Rinse with fresh water 
  •  Quick method
    1. Put the beans in a large pot and add 4 parts of water for each part of beans.
    2. Heat the pot until the water boils, and keep it boiling for 2 to 3 minutes.
    3. Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let the beans soak for an hour.
    4. Drain the beans, discard the soaking water
    5. Rinse with fresh water.

If beans are left in hot water for too long, a fermentation problem could arise. The quick method is an alternative to the slow soaking technique, more useful for community kitchens rather than cooking at home. Also good for when in a rush, now you can prepare beans with your favorite recipe. Beans take between 30 minutes to 2 hours to cook, depending on the variety. Altitude or hard water can also make cooking time longer.  If this is the case, let them cook longer until they are tender.

For the rest of the legumes, use the “Traditional Method” of soaking, also by using hot water they will hydrate faster.

✔ Cook

Once cooked, legumes usually increase from 2 to 2.5 times in volume. This should be taken into account when preparing portions.

Do not mix them. It is never convenient to cook different varieties together. Each has a different cooking time, although all oscillate between 1,5 to 2 hours, or approx. 20-30 minutes in a pressure cooker.  Also avoid cooking together legumes bought in various places and times, and of course those from different years. If this is done, you will not obtain a uniform cooking point.

When they start to boil, remove any foam that forms, as it contains impurities and toxins.

Tips

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✔ Should bicarbonate be added?
Adding bicarbonate, both during soaking and cooking, will make the legumes softer; however it will also destroy part of the thiamine and make the amino acids less assimilable. Thereby negatively modify the global nutritional value.
✔ The cold water trick for beans

So that beans come out whole and smooth, the best trick is to add cold water while they are cooking. Another method is to change and add new water once the original water has come to boil. It is important not to overcook them, as they would lose nutrients, texture, color and flavor.

As for chickpeas, always add hot water, even when you put them in the pot.

✔ Cooking time

It is difficult to give the exact cooking time for pulses as this depends on many variables such as the variety, their age, the hardness of the water being used for cooking and the altitude of the area.

When deciding the cooking time, one must also consider what the legume is being used for; for salads, to freeze to be use at another time, or if they are going to be cooked later in soup or a stew, it is better if they are firm and slightly under-cooked.

These are the approximate cooking times of some types of pulses:

  • Bean Carilla 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • Kidney Bean, Pink Bean or Navy Beans 1 to 1.5 hours
  • Small Lima Bean 1 hour
  • Large Lima Bean 45 minutes to an hour
  • Chickpeas 1 to 1.5 hours
  • Quick Lentil 30 to 40 minutes
  • Peeled Lentil 30 minutes
  • Split peas 45 minutes to an hour

Preservation & storage

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✔ Pre-cooked Legumes
The pre-cooked legumes should be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 3 to 4 days; or they can be frozen. Use pre-cooked legumes in salads, soups, starters, mashed potatoes or baked dishes.

When preparing a recipe with pre-cooked legumes, you should reduce the amount of liquid indicated in the recipe by a third or a half.

✔ Dry Legumes
In general, dried legumes are easy to store and preserve. They are always handy, being a “non-perishable”, dry product.  They should be kept in airtight containers in a cool and dry place as to avoid direct light, especially from the sun. This way they won’t go rancid or change consistency. The ration per person is between 60 to 85 gr. dry weight
✔ Preserving cooked legumes

They can be cooked and then frozen in smaller packages. Label them with the freezing date and variety. Frozen foods last up to 3 months, and cooked and refrigerated for up to 5 days.

It is a product that withstands freezing well. Thaw legumes slowly overnight in the refrigerator to maintain their appearance; or thaw at room temperature for several hours.

For preservation in the freezer, they may be slightly less cooked because freezing tends to soften them; provide space for expansion in the container.

Kombu seaweed

Contains glutamic acid, softens legumes fibers, reduces cooking time and makes legumes more digestible. It also helps digest vegetable proteins.

Glutamic acid has an intense flavor and is the same acid with which monosodium glutamate is synthetically made. Adding about ten centimeters of this seaweed when cooking the legumes is enough. At the end of cooking remove the seaweed.

Salt and acid products

The incorporation of salt, tomato, lemon juice or other acidic ingredients at the beginning Cooking time can increase cooking times. Add them when the legumes are already tender.

Some chefs believe that putting salt or broth instead of water improves the taste by receiving salt more evenly.

A few drops of freshly squeezed lemon towards the end of cooking, helps reduce the earthy flavor of certain varieties of lentils.

Use about 20 ml of salt for every 500 g of dried legumes.

Cooking in the pressure cooker

With this method, cooking is shortened, but lost in flavor.

Casserole material

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