Food Conversions & Cooking Times: Grains, Legumes & Pulses

Handy Kitchen Cooking Tips & Info

We’ve always encouraged everyone to cook their own grains, legumes and pulses when and where they can. Firstly, because freshly cooked food always tastes great, secondly because (hopefully) you will save some money over time and thirdly, because it’s basic and easy cooking skills that everyone can and should develop.

Avid home cooks will develop their own tried and true methods of how to cook the perfect rice and other grains (us included), but it takes practice. Don’t let this discourage you because remember, everyone had the same starting point; typically quick advice from some family and friends!

You can use the cooking instructions from packets, but even those are variable and sometimes undesirable. However, until we can develop our own cooking styles and things become second nature, it’s best to have some sort of guide.

Many years ago (after thoroughly soaking some chickpeas) we tried cooking them for the first time. Thirty-five minutes later and those things were still rock hard! We thought “what the heck is going on?!” Little did we know at the time that these legumes actually needed well over an hour to cook! We just assumed that since most beans take about 45-60mins that these would too. Cooking 101: if you are new to cooking (or a new food item), always double check the basics before getting started and don’t assume anything. It’s better to get the basics down and then you can wing it… particularly if you don’t want to waste money or are trying to make the most of your time; standing next to a pot for 1-2 hrs can be a big ‘ask’!

Last year we mentioned of how to cook chickpeas in a slow cooker; now it’s our preferred method to cook our legumes! What a time saver. Like us, not everyone uses traditional methods to cook their beans (legumes or grains); for some, the use of a pressure cooker will significantly reduce their cooking times. However, not everyone uses (or has) kitchen gadgets, so it’s always great to know how to go back to basics; which is exactly why we have created this table. It includes a variety of grains, legumes and pulses (although not exhaustive) with a comparison of dried verses cooked weights and approx. cooking times; this is particularly helpful if you come across a new food item with no idea of how to cook it (as mentioned above)!

 

Tips & Info
  • Our table tries to look at the average cooking weights by standard cooking preparation (on your stove top!); some of them are averages and some of them are estimates. However, as you can appreciate, cooking beans etc. is not a perfect system. Cooked weights of grains, legumes and pulses can vary due to a number of reasons including:

-over soaking.
-soaking beans in too little water.
-over cooking pasta or cooking it to an al dente texture.
-cooking grains in too much water.

  • When we cook our own dried pulses and legumes, we always weigh them afterwards and give an approx. equivalent for using a tinned variety.
  • Cooking times shown here are not indicative of quantities used.
  • This table does not include complete cooking instructions, e.g. if the cooking time includes steaming off the heat, tempering grains in oil, under cooking (if you’re entering your pasta straight into a sauce) and/or rinsing the grains/beans/pulses before or after cooking etc.
  • Overnight soaking typical means a time span of 8-12 hours.

Hopefully this table will give everyone (who needs it) a rough idea and a head start of how to cook grains, legumes and pulses; with any luck it will also help to organise your meal planning and prep… so you’ll have more fresh and deliciously cooked meals as a result!

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂

 

 

Sources:
-McCance and Widdowson’s ‘The Composition of Foods’. 5th Edition B Holland, A A Welch, I D Unwin, D H Buss, A A Paul and D A T Southgate. The Royal Society of Chemistry, 1991
-Feature Image: Play with your food By: Sacha Pop-Farrell_Flickr
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