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Pulses and Legumes: information and how to cook

Legumes, Beans & Pulses are high in fibre, carbohydrates, protein, are a great addition to any diet and used in stir-fries, soups, pasta, salads, and dips.  Beans need to be washed thoroughly, soaked overnight and then cooked.  You can also buy cans of cooked beans, but be sure to read the labels.   It may be tempting to save yourself some time, but you may be consuming salts and sugars, preservatives and chemicals with canned goods.  Some beans are dyed to look the same.  If you have to use canned beans, be sure to rinse them thoroughly before use.  Dried beans bought in bulk are far cheaper, more nutritious and less wasteful.

How to Cook on the stove:

Soak beans in about 3 times their volume of water overnight.  In the morning, rinse and change the water a couple of times as this will get rid of the indigestible complex sugars that create gas in your intestine.  It also helping to cook the beans thoroughly.  Cover the beans with twice their volume of water and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until soft.  Cooking times vary, but see the list below for some general guidelines.  Cook up a large batch as pulses freeze well making them suitable for future use.

Cooking times:

  • Aduki beans 1-1 1/2 hours
  • Anasazi beans 2-2 1/2 hours
  • Black beans 2-3 hours
  • Chick peas/Garbanzo beans 2-3 hours
  • Kidney beans 2 1/2 –3 hours
  • Lentils 1-2 hours
  • Lima beans 1-1 1/2 hours
  • Navy beans 3-3 1/2 hours
  • Pinto beans 2 hours
  • Soy beans 3-4 hours
  • Split peas 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours

How to Cook in a pressure cooker:

If you have a pressure cooker, this is an easy option for cooking beans and pulses.  Generally, beans need to be soaked at least 4 hours before cooking, overnight is best though.  The only beans that don’t need to be soaked when using a pressure cooker are lentils or split peas.  Rinse the soaked beans well before cooking and cover with at least 2 inches of water or other liquid, do not fill past the half way mark.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil per cup of beans to minimise foaming.  Add seasonings after the beans are cooked.  The list below uses the quick-releasing/high pressure.  Beans should be finished using the natural release method.

Cooking times vary depending on your pressure cooker, heat source, quality and quantity and age of the beans.  Use the list below as a guideline, if the beans are still hard after the recommended cooking times, continue cooking uncovered and if necessary add additional water.

Pressure Cooker times:

  • Aduki beans 8 minutes
  • Anasazi beans 8 minutes
  • Black beans 12 minutes
  • Chick peas/Garbanzo beans 14 minutes
  • Kidney beans 12 minutes
  • Lentils 7 minutes
  • Lima beans 3-4 minutes
  • Navy beans 10 minutes
  • Pinto beans 12 minutes
  • Soy beans 35 minutes
  • Split peas 10 minutes

Originally Published on the Viva La Vegan website

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Thanks for this Carolyn.  I'm always on the lookout for good advice about this food group and this is excellent.

You're very welcome, Kerry! I had no idea what most of these things were when I first became vegan, so I hope others find it useful too! :) 

It would be good to also suggest some good kitchen appliances.  I'm moving more to raw vegan these days and am looking at an Angel Juicer.  Expensive but well worth it and I see you can make other things like nut milks and soups.  I'm also considering a Vitamix blender.  It would be interesting to see what others are using in the kitchen to get the best nutritional value from their vege's. (-:

This is awesome, Carolyn.  Having all these listed in one place makes for easy use.  Thanks. 

Leigh-chantelle also has a video on her youtube channel, with more useful information on how to cook beans, pulses and legumes:

This is a great reference! Thanks Leigh-Chantelle and Carolyn.

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