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Are Canned Lentils Cooked? (Revealed)

Are you away on holiday from the hustle and bustle of your city, and there’s no grocery store around? You’re getting hungry, and all you have are canned lentils. It’s at THIS moment when you wonder if they’re (really) cooked so that you can eat them straight out of the can. 

Canned lentils have been my go-to purchase from the supermarket. They offer so much convenience, as they are already cooked. This makes them a quick and hassle-free choice for preparing a variety of delicious meals. What’s even better? You can savor them on their own, too!

In today’s read, I’ll reveal:

  • Are canned lentils cooked?
  • What is the difference between canned and dry lentils?
A can of canned lentils, with the lid half opened

Are canned lentils already cooked?

It may come as a surprise to you, but Yes, canned lentils come pre-cooked. 

Why? Well, all the canned foods go through (more or less) a similar canning process, which cooks them. 

Here’s how: First, dried lentils are soaked to hydrate them. Next, they are put into a special machine with a controlled temperature for cooking. After that, the canners use pressurized water to get rid of any leftover bits of the lentil skin. 

Then, they are packed into cans with water and added a good amount of salt for preservation.

Finally, the canned goodies go through a sterilization process under high heat (It further cooks and softens the lentils).

The manufacturers (usually) do this to make them safe to eat for a long period of time. This is how you can enjoy them whenever hunger strikes!

What is the difference between canned and dry lentils?

Three spoons holding three different colors of dried lentils - green, orange and brown

Canned lentils are the kitchen shortcut you love. They’re already cooked, and you don’t need a chef’s hat for this one. So just open the can, rinse them, and toss them into your dish (Or eat them as a quick snack).

While canned lentils are easy to work with, they do lose some heat-sensitive nutrients (Like vitamin C) during the canning process. Don’t worry; they still retain most of their essential minerals, protein, and fiber. 

But here’s something you need to worry about! Canned lentils are a tad heavy on salt (Which is added as a preservative). So, if you’re avoiding sodium intake for health reasons, it’s a good idea to check the label for low-sodium options (Or give them a good rinse before use).

Unlike canned lentils, dry ones take your precious time! You need to soak and cook them to make a scrumptious meal. But here’s the best part! You are in complete charge of cooking them just the way you like (Soft or Firm).

Also, dry lentils hold onto their nutrients better because they haven’t been cooked twice (Like canned lentils). There’s more of everything (Vitamins, Minerals, and Fibers). 

Another big plus is that you have full control over the salt. You can choose not to add any or simply double the amount! 

But, at the end of the day, it’s totally your call to opt for canned lentils or the dry ones (Or both).

What happens if you don’t rinse canned lentils?

There are certain additives used while canning lentils to help them get cooked and preserved. 

If you don’t give canned lentils a good rinse before adding them to your dishes or eating them as they are, you’re going to regret it later!

During the process, the manufacturers pack them in liquid with a high amount of salt. So, if you don’t rinse them, your dish might turn out saltier than you would like. 

Now, here’s the flavor part: The liquid in the cans has a specific taste (Similar to something metallic). This could literally ruin your dishes!

But, if you rinse the canned lentils, voila, you get a cleaner, more natural flavor. Yum!

Let’s talk about texture now: If you skip rinsing, your canned lentils will make your dish thicker. Rinsing them will give almost perfect consistency to your culinary adventures. 

Can you use the liquid in canned lentils?

The liquid in canned lentils (Lentil broth) can be quite flavorful because it absorbs some of their goodness when they are cooked during the canning process. 

You can use it in various ways:

1. Thinning Agent

When you’re cooking up a big pot of soup, a hearty stew, or a tasty sauce, you may realize it’s a bit too thick. That’s where the lentil broth comes to the rescue! You can add some of it to your dish, and it works like magic to make the consistency just right. 

The best part! Even though it helps with the consistency, it doesn’t take away any of the original flavor profile.

2. Cooking Grains

Instead of using plain water to cook grains (Like rice or quinoa), I use the flavorful liquid from canned lentils. By doing this, my grains soak up the essence of lentils and make them super delicious. Believe me, if you do this, your taste buds will thank you!

3. Vegetarian Gravy

You can make a special kind of gravy using lentil broth, and it’s perfect for you if you are a vegan. Here’s what you need to do: Pour the broth or liquid from the canned lentils into a pan and add some herbs and seasonings (Like spices) that you love. 

Now, mix everything nicely and put it on medium heat. Keep it on until you get your desired consistency. It’s a tasty, vegan-powered gravy that makes your lunches and dinners even more enjoyable!

Are there different types of canned lentils available? 

Canned lentils come in different varieties, just like dry lentils do. The difference is canned ones are cooked, as I’ve mentioned above. Let me just show you a few famous types:

1. Green Canned Lentils

Green canned lentils are famous for their subtle peppery flavor and firm texture. When you use them in your dishes, they hold their shape quite well. This quality makes them perfect for salads and side dishes. 

2. Brown Canned Lentils

With brown canned lentils, you get a milder flavor and tender texture when using them in recipes. They’re versatile and work well in many dishes (From soups to curries). 

3. Red Canned Lentils

Need a nice and creamy texture? Red canned lentils give you this pleasure and easily mix with the rest of your ingredients. That’s a plus! 

Wrapping Up!

So, in the end, I hope you know whether canned lentils  are cooked?” Along with that, you’ve gained some more useful information about these convenient goodies.

I believe you’re all set to make the most of canned lentils in your kitchen, whether it’s for a quick and easy meal, a flavorful broth, or adding a delicious twist to your recipes.