Techniques for Cooking Pulses

After preparing the pulses, they should be boiled in soft water (a pinch of bicarbonate of soda can be added to soften hard water). Beans should initially be boiled rapidly for 10 minutes to destroy the poisonous chemical lectin, then gently simmered for the rest of the cooking time. Add salt towards the end of the cooking time; if added at start, the skins will split and the insides will harden. Fat such as salt pork, bacon or oil may be added to the cooking water to improve the texture.


  1. Add pulses to a pan of cold water and then bring to the boil.
  2. If cooking beans, boil rapidly for 10 minutes.
  3. Cover and simmer for the following times:
  • Beans: 1 ½ - 2 hours
  • Lentils: 30-45 minutes
  • Red, Pink and French Lentils: 10 minutes
  • Split Peas: 45 minutes
  • Whole Peas: 1 ½ - 2 hours

Pulses can also be stewed by adding them to approximately 2-3 times their volume of water. They are then cooked gently either on the stove or in the oven, during which time all the liquid is absorbed. This means that no water is thrown away, resulting in little loss of flavour and nutrients.

Canned pulses are already cooked and only need rinsing and draining before heating.