Patsy Hollingum is taking the pulse ...

Patsy Hollingum is taking the pulse ...

In my store cupboard at the moment I have no fewer than 10 different types of pulse, plus one on my current shopping list.

Some of you will be familiar with the word, without knowing exactly what it covers, so here’s a little rule of thumb:  a pulse is a dried seed which is rehydrated in order to be eaten when required.  Probably everyone in Britain is familiar with the old staple of the pantry, the baked bean, essentially, a tin of rehydrated haricot beans cooked in a sweet tomato sauce.  Very satisfying, available at very short notice, very quick to prepare, and generally very nutritious, consisting of protein and carbohydrates. What many people do not realise, however, is how easy it is to prepare nutritious, proteinaceous meals, using dried beans, at very low cost.

Let me introduce you to the versatile lentil.  They come in different guises.

Red lentils have been cleaned and split, and do not have their protective skins in place, green lentils, brown lentils and, a new discovery for me, beluga lentils, are still wearing their party clothes.  All, with the possible exception of the red lentil, need to be washed prior to cooking.

Lentils don’t need to be soaked prior to cooking, and dried packs of lentils are far less expensive than tinned ones, as well as having more flavour and a better texture.  Add to this that they are kinder to the environment. They can be purchased in bio-degradable bags, rather than aluminium cans, and, being dried, the fuel to transport them to the wholesalers, and thence, via the retailer, to the consumer, is far less; that heavy commodity, good old H2O, is not transported with them.  The downside, of course, is that you need to cook them prior to eating them, so use more household energy and your time to prepare them for the tables.  It’s worth noting that once cooked, they can be frozen without suffering loss of texture or flavour.