Do You Really Need To Sift Through Lentils Before Cooking Them?

A staple of various Mediterranean and Asian diets, lentils are high in fiber and protein and taste amazing in stews, curries, and soups. There are four main types of lentils, (brown, green, red and yellow, and specialty), each with its own distinct flavor and benefits, and many more varieties within each type. Although each type of lentil has its own specific cooking time, they're all significantly shorter than their fellow legumes.

While it doesn't take much time to simmer a pot of lentils, the preparation time is lengthened by having to rinse and sift through dried lentils before cooking. Dried lentils aren't swimming around in stones and clumps of dirt, but it's possible to find a few of them hidden in the pack.

Lentils are grown on vines that sit quite close to the ground, making it possible for rocks, dirt, and twigs to get caught up in the harvest. Sifting through a large amount of dried lentils is time-consuming, but it's better to avoid the risk of chipping a tooth on a small rock that's made its way into your spiced lentils.

How to sift through your lentils quickly

Before going through your lentils, put them in a sieve and shake gently to get rid of any dirt or small particles that you may not be able to spot easily. The common way to sift through lentils is to keep them in a sieve and sort them around a little with your hands. However, that can take forever; plus, it's easy to miss some debris if you don't separate the lentils. The best method is to pour a few at a time on a plate or sheet pan.

Pick a brightly colored plate or sheet pan that will allow you to spot rocks and twigs more easily. Scoop some onto your plate and push the lentils around, picking out anything that shouldn't be there. Remove any dried-up and disfigured lentils, as well. Once you've been through all the lentils, pour them into a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water before cooking.