Preparing Pulses: Beans, Peas, Legumes

The basics of preparing pulses:

Most dried pulses need to be soaked overnight before cooking. It makes a tremendous difference in how they taste and how the react in your digestive tract. Since they come to us directly from the field, they should be thoroughly picked over to remove broken or damaged beans, any small stones, twigs or stems and dried clumps of soil. They should be washed in running water to remove the dust and soil particles clinging to them before soaking. Beans will swell two to three times their size when soaked so allow for enough room in the pot for their growth. Use three parts spring or RO water to one part pulse.

Drain the soak water from the beans. Cover beans with fresh water. Boil for ten minutes. Drain to remove any toxins and cover beans with fresh water again. Cooking time varies with the variety, freshness and size of the pulse. Do not salt pulses while cooking.

The soak and rinse technique reduces intestinal gas. For additional digestive aid, add a piece of kombu to the pot.

Many years ago The Philadelphia Eagle ran a story about cooking soy beans. The columnist suggested adding a piece of washed granite to the pot and bringing the soy beans to a rolling boil for six hours; at which time the cook should test the granite with a cooking fork. If the granite is tender, he wrote, the soy beans should be ready after cooking for an additional six hours.

Clearly a joke! However, there is some truth to it. Soybeans take a very long time to cook and if you salt them they will never be tender even if you cook them for days!

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