Lentils are a good source of plant-based protein – affordable, easy to cook, and delicious.
However, lentils and several other legumes are notoriously hard to digest and often create gas. Now, we know that fermentation usually makes any food more digestible. So, what about lentils?
Can you ferment lentils?
Of course, you can. You can ferment lentils and similar legumes in more or less the same way you ferment other foods. However, there are some special procedures that you must follow to get the perfect result. Though you can cook lentils after fermentation, cooking them earlier is more delicious.
This article dives deep into the question of fermenting lentils. You can also get a step-by-step analysis on “How do you ferment grain and legumes – the proper way”.
Can You Ferment Lentils?
You can ferment almost any type of beans, seeds, legumes, and grains.
Lentils are a special type of grain. It is difficult to digest in its pre-cooked state, as it is still full of starch and glucose. But, fermentation can help you digest the food.
Lentils and other beans and grains are a great source of starch. So, if you maintain the proper environment, you can definitely ferment these grains easily.
In fact, glucose in lentils enables the fermentation process to take place.
In fermentation, the microorganisms in the food and your environment break down the carbs. It is basically what fermentation is. But it needs to take place in an oxygen-free environment.
The complete instruction on creating this controlled environment is given in the latter part of the article.
Benefits of Fermenting Lentils
Fermentation has been around for a LONG time because of its benefits. You can think of fermentation as controlling natural decay.
In other words, fermented foods last longer. Because of this, for most of human history, people fermented food to preserve the plentiful grain they produced in the summertime.
But what about the nutrition of the food? Are fermented beans healthy?
In the case of lentils, fermentation provides some special benefits. Most of us, at one point, have experienced digestive issues after eating lentils. It’s hard to digest because of its chemical properties and creates gas. Fermentation further breaks down these hard-to-digest elements of lentils and saves us from the gas formation.
Another benefit of fermentation is that it reduces the anti-nutrients found in lentils. These anti-nutrients bind with the vitamins and minerals already present in our body and actually reduce the number of these minerals. Fermentation solves this problem.
Last but not least, fermentation provides the food with a different taste – a more savory one.
So, fermenting lentils enables you to store the food longer, make it more digestible, reduce anti-nutrients and make a tastier dish.
Should I Cook Lentils Before Fermentation?
So, if you are like me, then these benefits definitely made you eager to ferment lentils. But here’s one thing you need to know first – you can never eat lentils without cooking. So, you cannot simply eat lentils by fermenting them; you also need to cook the grains.
So, the question is – should I cook lentils before or after fermentation? Well, technically, you can do both. But one would yield a better result than the other.
If the lentils are properly fermented, they get mixed with many good microbes. These microbes improve our immunity system. It means you want to keep these microbes in your food. However, cooking after fermenting kills these organisms.
So, in our opinion, as there is no other alternative to cooking, you better do it before you ferment it to keep the good microbes.
How to Cook Lentils
First, you will need to soak the lentils to clean them. For best results, soak the grains for 2 hours. Here a lot of people ask – can lentils soak for too long? The answer is if you keep it under water for more than half a day, it will start to ferment, and we don’t want that before cooking.
So, change the water after 2 hours. Repeat the process again after 2 more hours. It will properly clean the lentils.
Now, Just transfer the grains to a pot, add cold water and crank up the temperature. Bring it up to a boil, and then let it simmer.
Take it out of the stove once the lentils become tender.
And that’s it! Now you are ready for the main event – you can finally ferment the lentils.
Lentil Fermentation Process – The Complete Guide
How do you ferment grains and legumes? Well, fermenting lentils, legumes, or other grains is similar to the traditional fermentation process. It is a simple enough technique.
But before you actually start fermenting, ensure you have a jar that you can tightly seal. Many people fail at fermentation simply because they use faulty jars that do not close properly. We highly recommend this Jar with Airlock.
Here are the ingredients you need to ferment lentils.
Now simply follow these instructions:
- Fill up this jar with the grains and submerge it completely in clean water. Ensure the water is not full to the rim; keep an inch of the jar empty to be safe. It keeps the grains from overflowing during fermentation.
- Weigh the water and lentil solution. It will give you a general idea about how much salt to add. I usually add Sea Salt, which is 25% of the total weight of the water-lentil mixture. You might have to add more or less depending on what works for you.
- It is a part where you need to add the good microbes that will break down the starch and start the fermentation process. Without cooking the lentils first, natural microbes would do that automatically.
- But in this case, you have less control over the organisms in your food. So, manually adding microbes after the cooking is done is a better idea. For this, simply use 4 tablespoons of Whey, kombucha, or other lactobacillus starters if you used 1 tablespoon of cooked lentils.
- Last but not least, tightly seal the jar (the Recommended Jar makes this step a lot easier due to its airlock technology) and store it in a cold environment away from direct sunlight.
- Keep it like this for 2 or 3 days, and your fermented lentils will be ready to enjoy.
How Do I Serve Fermented Lentils?
Now that you have fermented lentils, what can you do with them?
The possibilities are endless! You can make many delicious dishes using fermented lentils. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common uses of fermented lentils.
You can use fermented lentils almost the same way as customarily cooked ones. But in this case, you will not have to face the embarrassing gas problems. You can also use the fermented lentils to make amazing gluten-free bread!
Because of the savory flavor, you can serve fermented lentils on their own. But you can also make varied dishes with it. You can make fermented lentil soup and add many different vegetables for extra nutrition and flavor.
But if you feel more adventurous, you can make amazing dishes with it. For example, Dosa is a traditional Indian food that uses fermented lentils.
Best Practices of Fermenting Lentils
Properly fermented lentil is truly amazing food. But there are a few mistakes that ruin the fermentation process. These are the things you need to be extra careful about.
Properly Rinsing Dried Lentils: The dried lentils you buy from the store is usually full of dirt and small debris. So, clean it carefully. The proper way to do that is to rinse the lentils repeatedly. Be careful not to soak the lentils for more than two hours at a time.
Adding Adequate Salt in the Mixture: The brine you prepare for submerging the grains needs salt. We recommend using Sea Salts for this purpose. You need to be extra careful about the amount of salt you add. As a rule of thumb, if the combined weight of water and lentil is 100 grams, then you need to add 25 grams of salt.
Fully Submerging the Grains: Remember, fermentation must occur in an oxygen-free environment. So, if your grains are not fully submerged in water, air will interact with lentils and ruin the fermentation process.
Perfect Storing Condition: While your lentils are in the jar being soaked in the brine, keep it away from direct sunlight. Also, it’s best to keep the pot at a relatively cold temperature.
These are the best practices you must follow to get a delicious and nutritious dish truly.
- Can You Ferment Dried Beans?
Of course. You can ferment dried beans without any problem. The process is the same as fermenting legumes like lentils. But we recommend not fermenting it before cooking because that produces an absolutely horrible smell.
- How Long Does it Take to Ferment Beans?
The overall fermentation period largely depends on the temperature. If you store it in a cold atmosphere like in the fridge, it will ferment slowly. But the fermentation process will pace up if kept at room temperature.
Generally, fermenting beans takes around 3 to 5 days.
- How Long Will Fermented Lentil Stay Good?
Well, fermentation gives the dish a sour taste. If the dish is fermented for too long, then the dish will become too sour to eat. So, how long-fermented lentils will stay good depends on how much sour you want them to be.
Still, a general guideline is that fermented lentils will stay good for 3 to 4 months in the fridge.
Fermentation is a great way to enjoy your food for longer. However, can you ferment lentils?
Yes, of course, you can. In fact, it’s a superb way to make a delicious, healthy, and easily digestive dish.
Just be careful about closing the lead so bad bacteria cannot enter the grain and water solution and ruin the fermentation process. Other than that, you should be good to go. So, follow the tips and tricks and make a killer fermented lentil dish to blow everyone’s mind.