how to cook pulses (beans, chickpeas, etc)

how to cook pulses

I have unbalanced spending habits. I scrimp and save on my grocery bill, drive in a way that will maximize fuel economy, only stop at a coffeeshop if I’m meeting up with a friend, and then go spend all my money on a trip to Europe. 

I guess I get a kick out of being thrifty… most of the time.

I also get a kick out of healthier food options. We eat a lot of chickpeas, beans, and lentils around our place, as opposed to ground beef. Partly because a meat-heavy diet has been linked to certain diseases and is hard on the environment, and partly because pulses are so very cost-effective. 

Ground beef costs $9/kg

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Canned pulses cost $4/kg

Swapping out beef in favour of canned pulses saves you more than half the cost!

But hold on, it gets better. If you buy dried pulses (chickpeas, beans, lentils, etc.) and cook them yourself, you can save even more. What a money-saving rush! 

Dried pulses cost $1.33/kg.  That’s a savings of 85%… Europe here I come!

Dried beans are 4x cheaper than canned

What To Do

1. Start by placing your dried pulses in the largest pot you own. I have the good fortune of having received a giant stockpot for Christmas.  The photo below shows 3 litres of dried chickpeas in my pot.

cooking pulses 1

2. Cover your chickpeas with double the amount of water. I filled my pot up to the 6 litre mark. 

cooking pulses 2

3. Spray the top with a bit of oil. If you don’t have a lovely oil spritzer, then simply pour a teaspoon or so on top. If you don’t do this, the whole thing will foam up like crazy!

cooking pulses 3

4. Place a wooden spoon over the top of the pot. The science of this is beyond me, but it prevents the pot from boiling over! 

cooking pulses 4

5. Place your pot on the stove over high heat. Once the water has boiled, allow to cook for one minute. Then turn the heat off and set a timer for 1 hour.  At this point, your beans will have soaked up most of the water and look like this:

cooking pulses 5

6. Drain and rinse your beans. This step washes away some of the oligosaccharides, small sugar molecules that are responsible for the flatulence effect beans can have! However, these oligosaccharides are actually quite beneficial for gut health so… how much your rinse your beans is up to you… Do you value social interaction or your health more? 🙂

7. Return the beans to the pot.

8. Repeat steps 2-4.  When you double the beans in water again, you’ll see why having such a large pot can come in handy.

cooking pulses 6

9. Cook for 45-60 minutes and taste for doneness. The outside of the beans will still appear to be hard but if you take a bite, the inside is nice and soft. You don’t want overcooked beans or they’ll just turn to mush when you try to use them. Unless you like mushy beans. Then overcook to your mushy heart’s desire!

10. Drain the beans again and portion out into freezer containers or bags. I like to measure out 1 1/2 cups into each bag because that’s the volume of beans found in 1 can. Many recipes will call for beans in “can measurement.” Freeze your pre-portioned beans and defrost as needed.

What Not To Do

  • DON’T add baking soda as this can cause overmushy beans. Yuck. It also breaks down thiamin, a B vitamin. 
  • DON’T  add salt or an acidic food such as vinegar or tomato sauce. These will slow down the cooking process. You may add herbs and spices, if you so desire. 
  • SKIP the soaking step when cooking lentils. Lentils can be cooked similarly to rice or quinoa. Simply use a 1:2 ratio of lentils to water.

And that’s it! Now you have a protein rich, iron rich, zinc rich, fibre rich, folate rich food for 15 cents a serving!

Don’t you feel yourself getting pumped up just thinking about how resourceful this is?  Or is that just me?

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12 Comments on “how to cook pulses (beans, chickpeas, etc)”

  1. Any recommendations on how/when to substitute pulses for ground beef? Should you mash them up first or just go with their natural texture? I’m excited to do more pulsing now!

    1. It depends on the recipe whether it’s best to mash or keep them whole! I apologize that I didn’t give any examples for when to substitute. I thought of that after I posted! I’ll be sure to update the post soon with some substitution ideas!

  2. Any experience with using a pressure cooker for cooking beans? it seems like its a growing trend in my friend groups as it cooks the beans very quickly.

  3. I just started using dried chickpeas and blackbeans instead of the canned kind, and what surprised me was how much better they taste. The black bean flavour is more full and richer, and my hummus was creamier and tastier! Also the price cant be beat 🙂

    1. Cooking your own beans just keeps getting better and better! Thanks for the extra tip… they’re healthier, cheaper, better on the environment AND they taste better? It’s a no-brainer!

  4. I have found that a pressure cooker will save you even more; beans cook in less than a quarter of the time…saving time and fuel used in cooking. They are well worth the initial expense. I find I pull mine out at least once a week. When I first got it, I was petrified to actually use it because of rumors I’d heard that they would blow up. Not true; they have built in about seven safeguards so this won’t happen. They lock in flavor like no other appliance I can think of. I use it to make risotto in about 15 minutes; I even made a meatloaf and potato meal that was the best I’d ever eaten. But back to beans…after soaking, I can make a full-fledged soup in about 15 minutes. I would recommend a pressure cooker to anyone who will listen.

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