How to Cook Grains

In my opinion, cooking grains is a little more challenging than cooking beans. With beans you just add water and wait until they are tender. If there is extra water, it creates a wonderful bean broth that can be used or not.

With grains, you generally want the water to be completely absorbed at exactly the point when the grains are perfectly tender. There are lots of recipes that suggest cooking grains as you would pasta, in a huge pot of water and then drain off the excess liquid. But it seems like you must be pouring some of the nutrients down the drain.

The best place to start with cooking grains is the package directions. But remember that the package directions are not set in stone. You may like yours a little wetter or a little drier. In that case adjust the amount of liquid accordingly. The cooking time may vary from the package based on the age of the grain and the heat you are applying to it.

So here is a general plan for cooking grains: Put the dry grain in a pan of water or liquid of choice, add a little salt if desired,  bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. When you feel the grain is at the consistency you prefer, they are done. At the end of the suggested cooking time, if the grain isn’t as tender as you want it to be, add water and and continue cooking. Conversely, if the grain seems perfectly done before the end of the cooking time, take them off the heat and drain away any excess liquid. Don’t be afraid to remove the cover from the pot and take a little sample, just to see where you are at. It’s as simple as that! With a little experience it will start to seem like no big deal. Just as with beans, grains can smell fear on you. So proceed fearlessly.

If you buy your grains in bulk and do not have package directions, check out the website of the Whole Grains Council. They have a nifty little chart that will tell you about how much water to add and about how long you should expect to cook your grain of choice. Their website also has recipes and lots of other valuable information on grains.

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