HeyDahls: But Seriously, How Do I Cook Whole Grains?

Q: Why do you have to rinse farro and quinoa? And how important is it to do so?

-Kaitlin, Raymond, Maine

A: Thank you for your question Kaitlin!  Mind if I let the tribe in our connection?

Kaitlin is one of my dearest friends from college and now an incredible, loving mama to two beautiful young children: Charlie, almost 4, and Lucy, almost 2, and another small one on the way. Blessings abound!!!

As she and her family explore the wonderful world of whole grains beyond rice, they have been enjoying quinoa and farro (a.k.a “party rice” at the dinner table, which, is adorable).


Farro shown here with Dahlia’s Anti-Inflammatory Spice Trifecta of Turmeric, Cinnamon & Allspice

So I receive Kaitlin text’s this week: Why do you have to rinse farro and quinoa? And how important is it to do so?

Not only do you want to rinse grains thoroughly to remove any sort of impurities from transport and storage in processing facilities, but you want to soak them!

Two major reasons I explain:

1) Better Consistency

When you soak grains, it softens the fiber and make it easier to cook through them consistently.  This way you won’t get end up with grains that are mushy on the outside and still chewy, or uncooked on the inside.

2) Easier to Digest

Whole grains like brown rice often contain Phytic Acid, which can act as an anti-nutrient, and block the absorption of other nutrients like calcium, iron, and zinc into the bloodstream upon digestion. It is therefore important to thoroughly soak and rinse grains in water to remove volatile compounds like phytic acid from grains.

Additionally, for those who are not yet used to consuming whole grains and beans, it may be a lot for the their digestive systems to process all that unrefined plant-based fiber to start.

It is especially important to soak and soften the fiber from whole grains and beans to make it easier for our digestive systems. Otherwise things can get, errr, explosive if you know what I mean.

How long do the grains need to soak?

So then I get the follow up text from Kaitlin. How long do do the grains need to soak.

Well, I explain, each grain can get away with different soaking times.

Bulgur, or cracked wheat, can get away with a 5-10 minute soak. Wild rice, on the other hand, needs more like 45 minutes or so.


I created a handy infographic, offering a spectrum of soaking and simmer times for some of my favorite whole grains out there. And my favorite method of preparing grains, as my mama taught me, toasting them up in oil and aromatic Mediterranean spices. Ancestral, old timey traditions.

Test it out the method. Let me know your thoughts.  Seriously. Mama loves feedback from the Tribe.






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