How to Cook Legumes

It used to take ages for me to cook legumes. Sometimes it would take so long that we would have to let it boil away and leave it for the next day. Then make an omelette as an emergency. Since then I’ve investigated the quicker way to cook legumes, if we can consider beginning 24 hours beforehand as quick that is.

How to cook legumes

The first thing we need to do is rinse the legumes in water and then soak them about 24 hours before you plan to cook them. During those 24 hours, if you are around the kitchen, change the water a few times. After a few hours you will begin to notice how they start puffing up, so make sure your container is quite larger than the volume of the legumes.

Secondly comes the cooking part. This is where I used to go wrong. I used to put all the other ingredients in a huge pot, cook them, then add water and the legumes. They would take hours to soften. Boring, waste of time and energy, hungry… This does not make any scientific sense at all! Actually all the contrary, what I needed to do was put the legumes in a big pot with cold water and boil them with nothing else in the pot. No salt, no condiments and definitely no chorizo. They would then take about 30 – 45 minutes to become soft, depending on your legume. Just check them, take one out and poke them and you can tell how cooked they are. Once they have become soft, then you can add all the other ingredients to make your stew.

The scientific reasoning behind this is that, as we know, the boiling point of water is 100°C. If anything else comes in the water (for example: salt) its boil point increases. This means that it needs a higher temperature and longer time to start boiling. So, to boil legumes, its best to do it only with water.

Note: this post goes for all types of legumes such as beans, chickpeas or lentils. However, the 24 hours soaking part may be omitted with lentils.

Do you have any legume cooking tips? We’d all love to find out.

Thank you for reading!

27 Comments

    1. Sofia 2013-12-17 at 21:27

      Hehe I don’t worry, I adore your “spams”, I consider them educational for me 😉 Your link looks great, now I know what to do with black beans (only I don’t have a pressure cooker!)

      Reply
      1. That other cook... 2013-12-17 at 21:33

        hahaha 🙂 thanks Sofia. I have to admit, I use my pressure cooker for pretty much everything in the kitchen. I even fry in it, because the tall walls virtually eliminate oil splattering all over the kitchen 🙂

        Reply
        1. Sofia 2013-12-17 at 21:36

          Ahhh, my (Spanish) grandmother told me how one of her cousins opened her pressure cooker before it was ready to be opened and it exploded and she ended up in hospital with awful burns… I’ve never wanted to get one, But I have to admit thats quite silly and I should get one and use them one day.

          Reply
          1. That other cook... 2013-12-17 at 21:42

            thats terrible! but here’s what I think in terms of safety. It’s virtually impossible to open a pressure cooker while it is still pressurized. There are 2 locking mechanisms that are extremely reliable. They require a little bit of maintenance and good cleaning (like anything else in the kitchen) I;m sure there are some shady brands out there, as well as some awesome ones.

            Best on in the market :

            http://www.amazon.com/Kuhn-Rikon-3344-7-4-Quart-Stainless-Steel/dp/B00004R8ZF/ref=sr_1_2?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1387312856&sr=1-2&keywords=rikon+kuhn+pressure+cooker

            and this is the one I own:

            http://www.amazon.com/Fagor-8-Quart-Stainless-Steel-Pressure-Steamer/dp/B00023D9RG/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1387312924&sr=1-1&keywords=pressure+cooker+fagor

            half the price. Still really awesome 🙂

            Reply
            1. Sofia 2013-12-17 at 23:47

              So they really have advanced since then! 🙂 Thanks for your more links 😉

              Reply
  1. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward 2013-12-17 at 01:32

    Hi, Sofia. I have been soaking beans overnight and cooking them for a couple of hours – just at a simmer. So far, made beans a few times this week! I freeze part and use part. We both have legumes on the brain! I have New Mexico pinto beans and black beans in the freezer in small containers right now. 🙂 xx Shanna PS I bought the Q ingredient today – it was hard to find, but I finally did. YAY. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2013-12-17 at 21:30

      Hi Shanna, freezing them when they have simmered is a great idea, gracias! Congrats on the Q ingredient. It may be out of season but you got it. Here, there are a few things you can get out of season but the rest of the stuff, shop keepers just say: out of season. The Q ingredient is one of them. Though my dish is cooked, photographed and eaten 🙂 We shall have to write and set the next date. xx

      Reply
      1. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward 2013-12-18 at 00:34

        Sofia – YES. 🙂 I have sent you an email. It is a new ingredient for me and I am struggling. I love that you are challenging me!!!!! 🙂 I will work on this tonight, for certain. Best wishes- Shanna

        Reply
  2. Guillermina Bósquez Stover 2013-12-17 at 02:35

    I don’t soak overnight. I use the “quick soak” method–rapid boil the pinto beans with hot water for 2 minutes, then cover & let stand for 1 hour. Drain soak water & rinse beans. Then add fresh COLD water to beans (I add 1 tsp of baking soda because of our hard water) & simmer gently for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours with lid tilted. And voilà!

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2013-12-17 at 21:31

      Ahhhh what a great tip. I will definitely look here at your comment next time I make beans 🙂

      Reply
  3. Guillermina Bósquez Stover 2013-12-17 at 02:36

    And you are right, do not add salt until beans until almost ready. I do sometimes add 1 or 2 unpeeled garlic, though…

    Reply
  4. Guillermina Bósquez Stover 2013-12-17 at 02:37

    And by the way, I like your snow!!!!

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2013-12-17 at 21:32

      Thanks! WordPress give us this option of the snow for Christmas. I think it’s cute so I put it on 🙂

      Reply
  5. Johnny Hepburn 2013-12-17 at 03:22

    That’s how I cook mine. Excepting red kidney beans that do need to be boiled for at least ten minutes before simmering until cooked. There’s some chemical that needs to be cooked out as otherwise it’s dangerous. Partly due to that I buy cans of kidney beans! The other ingredient I soak overnight is pearl barley – so much easier to cook. Takes about half the normal time.

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2013-12-17 at 21:34

      Aha! I think I’ve only brought ready made red kidney beans, so thanks for the important tip. I knew there was ONE bean that had some chemical but I wasn’t sure which one. Now the chemist in me will have to investigate and write a about it at some point 😉 Thanks for your tips!

      Reply
  6. Priya Kedlaya 2013-12-17 at 10:01

    I usually soak overnight at least but sometimes 24 hours. And then I use a pressure cooker – an Indian cook’s best friend! 😀

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2013-12-17 at 21:37

      Yeah, I’ve been to scared to get a pressure cooker but I must overcome my fear that day (plus get around to actually BUYING one, lol). xx

      Reply
  7. pianolearner 2013-12-17 at 10:54

    My wife makes some gorgeous split pea fritters. great for vegetarians and really really tasty. I can send you the recipe if you like….

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2013-12-17 at 21:37

      That sounds very tasty indeed! That would be really nice…

      Reply
  8. Kiss & Make-up 2013-12-17 at 14:59

    Legumes is French for vegetables, so I was a bit confused about what you were talking about here, lol 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2013-12-17 at 20:05

      Ah oui, c’est vrai, c’est le même mot! 🙂

      Reply
  9. aryana0821 2013-12-18 at 04:12

    Thanks for the tip … Nice article 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2013-12-19 at 00:20

      Let’s hope it will be helpful!

      Reply
    1. Sofia 2013-12-29 at 18:14

      Thanks for your tip!

      Reply

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