08 Aug How to Cook Pulses

Cooking Tips

How to Cook Pulses

8 August 2020

Pulses are the  edible seeds found inside legumes such as beans, peas (and chickpeas) and lentils.  They can be prepared from being fresh or dried.

Knowing how to prepare, cook and use pulses gives you access to some of the most affordable and nutritious food on the planet.

The following notes apply to dried beans such as borlotti, white cannelini, haricot, navy beans, great northern, cranberry, white and red kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas and fava beans (broad beans).


Packaged and loose dried pulses can be purchased from grocery stores, bulk suppliers, and supermarkets.

Do check the expiry date or ask the supplier how old the beans are.  Ideally only buy last seasons beans for best and quickest cooking results.

In the summer and autumn you may be able buy the beautiful fresh, red striped borlotti beans or the green haricot beans.  Remove them from the pod as soon as you can and either dry them to store or use them straight away.  


Measure out the quantity of beans or chickpeas you need for your recipe.

Place them in a bowl and cover with water by about 10cm.

The beans will probably double in volume.

Leave the beans to soak overnight or for a minimum of 6 - 8 hours.

Remove any skins that come to the surface.

You do not need to pre-soak freshly picked and podded pulses such as haricots or borlotti.


When the beans have finished soaking, drain them, rinse them in fresh cold water, place them in a pot and cover with about 10cm cold water.

Place a lid over the pot and place over moderate heat.

You may like to add a sprig of rosemary to the pot, this will be very aromatic and it will impart a flavour of rosemary into the cooked beans.

When the water comes to the boil, reduce the heat to a steady simmer.

Cook the beans until they are tender, but not mushy, depending upon the freshness of the beans this will take 45 minutes to 2 hours.

Once the beans are tender, remove the pot from the heat, and add 1 tablespoon of salt to the pot.

Allow the beans to cool in the salted water until ready to use.


If you are not planning to use the beans straight away, once they are cool place them in an airtight container with the salted cooking water and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Only use clean utensils when removing beans from the jar.

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