Thursday 23 April 2009

Eating uncooked lentils

I made an interesting experiment last year, but I never spoke about it. There is a lot of people who enjoy eating sprouts of different seeds. I was used to see in the local store soya bean sprouts and I sometimes ate them.

OK, but eating once more soya bean sprouts wouldn't be quite an interesnting experiment. I needed something different. So, let us try lentil sprouts. Huh? Am I forgetting something? Oh, yes... the hypothesis! A real experiment is just a way to check a first idea. Otherwise it is... OK, simply, it is something else. So here is the initial idea:

Lentils are edible without cooking.

Yes, lentils are rather hard if you don't prepare them. No good for teeth, for sure. So, I thought first I needed several days to grow them.

I remember I saw a friend who was growing sprouts: he used some kind of sieve in some kind of tupperware with water. This way the seeds kept the humidity and had space to grow at the same time.

I couldn't find something similar, but I had an idea: I could just use a clean towel on a pan. For some stupid reason I thought this was a wonderful idea. Don't do it, I will tell you later why...

Here is the set-up:

This was the aspect the lentils had on Day 0 (which was 3rd August 2008, at 9 pm):

Day 0; 9 pm

OK, nothing surprising for the moment. Everybody has seen raw lentils. On Day 1 I didn't take photos, so we will skip this, and we go straight to Day 2 (5th August):

Day 2; 5 pm

Here you can see the first white roots. They are alive! Nothing surprising: if 99.99% of the population has ever seen a raw lentil, probably 99.9% has already seen a growing lentil (leave a comment if I am wrong). On Day 3 (6th August) the experiment proceeded well:

Day 3; 5 pm

I remember I tried one of the lentils, and it was quite hard. Not edible yet. I was surprised, I thought it would take less time. "Give it another day" I thought. And this way we get into Day 4 (yeah, 7th August...)

Day 4; 5 pm

We can see on Day 4, for the first time, that most of the seeds have green tiny leaves. Photosynthesis is on! But seeds are still very hard. Hm... Am I going to need to cook this after all? So I left them there one more day.

This was what I got on Day 5 (8th August, just in case you lost count):

Day 5; 6 pm

At this point the plants were about ten times longer than the original seed diameter. You can check this wiht the first image of this post, as it has been taken on Day 5. Seeds were much softer. Here is what I got on Day 6 (ehm... 9th August):

Day 6; lunchtime

A wonderful lentil salad! I added some onions, tomatoes, parsley and dressed them with olive oil and salt. Probably pepper as well.

My impression: lentils are perfectly edible even when you don't cook them, but you will need around six days to be able to enjoy them. They have a strange texture in the mouth, I don't know how to explain it. It is as if they were kind of grainy when you chew them. But I think I could perfectly get used to this. And in some ways I think lentil salads are much better than lettuce salads.

Now... you remember when I said it was a stupid idea using a towel for this experiment? OK, here is why: I didn't know the roots of the plants were going to root so deep into the towel. They were amazingly strong! It was impossible to remove them completely, so some roots stayed in the towel. Additionally, the pan I used, after almost one week in contact with a humid towel, started to go rusty! This way, the towel blackened.

One less towel...

So if you want to reproduce this experiment... use a different system!

After this experiment I read a bit about lentil sprouts, and I discovered some wonderful properties they have. For example, they have a 25% of protein, lots of vitamins and three times more fibre than cooked (as they produce fibre while growing). Maybe I should restart growing them.

Enjoy your meal!


Anonymous said...

Oh they look like mung beans? I LOVE them, I love sprouts so much. In this part of Spain (north west) i can't find them and the one time I was lucky to find alfalfa sprouts they tasted nothing like the ones I buy in Australia

Anonymous said...

The reason why your lentils were still hard and taste weird and took 6 days is because you should rinse them twice a day. A towel is defo not needed either. Maybe u know all this now through trial and error..

Eynar Oxartum said...

Thanks a lot for the advice. We actually did not try again the experiment, but definitely I will give it another chance one of these days. Looks quite reasonable once you know it.