Why You Should Always Rinse Quinoa Before Cooking It

Your favorite whole-grain ingredient will need a rinse-down before preparing your next dish. Quinoa, originally a superfood grown in the lush lands of Peru, is an excellent substitute for pasta and rice when crafting a hearty bowl. While technically a seed, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, quinoa comes in various colors (including black, red, and yellow), each variety containing a chemical compound called saponins.

A natural defense produced by quinoa, saponins are made by plants to protect them against birds, insects, and small animals, per Scientific American. Saponins are bitter in taste and can give certain foods a soap-like flavor. As many of our recipes don't call for hint-of-suds, it's highly recommended to rinse each serving of quinoa before cooking.

According to Kitchn, to rinse your quinoa, use a fine-mesh strainer (a spider ladle should work fine, too). Place your quinoa in the strainer and rinse it with cold running water for approximately two minutes. Once you've drained out all the excess water, with a shake or two, it's time to prepare for cooking.

But what if your quinoa is pre-rinsed?

Knowing about the unfavorable taste of soapy quinoa, many brands and products will pre-rinse the quinoa for you (via Southern Living). While it may seem like a time-saver, we still recommend taking three extra minutes to wash your quinoa before cooking. Here's why.

While it may taste less soapy and have levels of saponins removed, it still doesn't guarantee higher traces of saponins can't be found on each quinoa seed. While most individuals may not notice a difference — others surely will. According to Simply Quinoa, some people can have a predisposition to saponin intolerances and sensitivities. Not only will they detect a soap-lingering taste with pre-rinsed quinoa, but their digestive systems may also be affected.

If you're someone who loves adding superfood to your daily diet and wishes to incorporate quinoa into your dishes — your palate and body will thank you (for the most part). Just make sure that when you do, you're not skimping out on a quinoa rinse or two before boiling.