How to prepare dried pulses safely

There were a few people buying our dried pulses on Saturday who weren’t 100% sure how to prepare them, so I thought it would be a good idea to do a short ‘how to’.


Keep dried lentils in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Although they can be kept and eaten indefinitely, they are best enjoyed within one year of purchase.

You dont necessarily have to soak lentils, but if you happen to be a well prepared person and you remember to do it, it will reduce the cooking process by half.

They do, however, need rinsing before cooking.

  • Rinse them in cold water, pick over to remove debris or shrivelled lentils and then drain.
  • Boil them in three times more water than pulse and avoid cooking with anything acidic – such as vinegar.

Lentils will vary in their cooking times depending on their variety but here is a rough guide:

Green and Brown lentils: 35 – 45 minutes

Red Split lentils: 15 – 20 minutes

Puy lentils: 20 – 25 minutes

Yellow lentils: 15 – 20 minutes


Soaking Chickpeas

Chickpeas are best soaked overnight, which is the first method; but if you have forgotten to do this and need them ready asap then there is a quicker method you can do if needs be.

Overnight soak

  • Sort through the beans to make sure there are no stones or debris, removing any that you find.
  • Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover completely with cold water.
  • Allow them to soak overnight, or about 12 hours.

Quick soak

  • Sort through the beans and remove any stones or other debris.
  • Place them in a colander and rinse under cool running water before draining.
  • Transfer the beans to a saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water.
  • Bring to a boil, cook for 1 minute, cover and remove from the heat.
  • Leave the beans to soak for 1 hour, then rinse and cook as you would if you had soaked them overnight.

How to Cook Chickpeas

Once the chickpeas have soaked, it’s time to cook them. It’s very easy and takes just over an hour.

  • Drain the chickpeas in a large colander and transfer them to a large cooking pot.
  • Cover with water twice the amount of the chickpeas and bring to a boil.
  • Cover, lower the heat and allow the pot to simmer for approximately one hour.
  • Do a taste test to make sure they are tender enough for your liking. If they’re not quite where you want them, simmer for a little longer.
  • Drain and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Once the chickpeas are cooled, they are ready to be used. Cooked chickpeas can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to three days. They can also be frozen in an airtight container for about a month.

Kidney Beans

Red kidney beans are poisonous if not boiled well for 20 minutes during their initial cooking, so it is really important with these pulses that they are prepared correctly. They also need soaking and you should never, ever, cook them in the water in which they have been soaked but drain and then rinse them well before putting into fresh water. The soaking water has absorbed much of the ingredient that upsets the gut.

Dried beans last for years if kept in a dry, dark place, safe from pests.

How to prepare and cook:

  • Soak the beans in plenty of water overnight.
  • If you don’t have much time, then start them in boiled water and then soaking them for four to five hours should be enough.
  • Throw away the soaking water when the beans are plump and slightly softer and the skins are no longer wrinkled.
  • Rinse them well.
  • They must be cooked in water – without salt – before adding to any other dish, even for recipes such as baked beans or stews with tomato and especially, salty bacon.
  • Boil well for 20 minutes.
  • Decrease the heat and simmer them for a further 25 minutes.
  • Drain and use as required, either added to a stew or chilli or they can also be eaten cold.

They will keep for 3 days in the fridge or can be cooled and frozen for up to 6 months.