If you have already read my Soaking and Sprouting - Planning my Weekly Menu
post, you would be aware for my habit of making menu plans for the week. While cooking a rather quick and a nutritious meal is never an issue for me, what stumps me is not having a plan. I am not among those who can just see their fridge/pantry, conjure up recipes in their head and whip up a meal with ease. I am kinda lost without having a plan and while I could manage with something, it comes with some amount of stress. I love cooking and hence I try to minimize/eliminate whatever is my pain point - hence my diligence with Weekly Menu planning.
Preparing Weekly Staples
Once the weekly menu is in place, I cook some of the ingredients before hand to save me some time. While I belong to the old school of believing that freshly chopped and cooked food is at its optimal best nutrition wise, I find that few ingredients do not lose either flavour or nutrition with advance prepping. For a vegetarian, Legumes form a strong protein backbone. Hence, these are advance prepped. The picture above shows cooked Moong Dal, Green Lentils, Cannellini Beans, Toor Dal (Pigeon Peas), Pinto Beans, Chickpeas, BLack Beans, Tamarind Paste
and Ginger Garlic Paste.
Important Storage Tip - Before you start
Unpreserved food is prone to harmful bacteria and contamination. Hence care should be taken in handling and storing them in the fridge. Never store them in a open can or in a improperly sealed container. The temperature of your fridge should be at or less than 40F or 4C. Avoid using your hands in cooked food before storing since it increases the chances of spoilage. At the end of the day, your sense of smell and sight is the best judge. If your legumes smell awful, feel slimy
How to Store Cooked Legumes
It is best to store the cooked legumes in the fridge (or freezer) within one hour of cooking. It would have cooled down by then as well. Use a well sealed/airtight container to keep out moisture and other contaminants. I use Mason Jars
for this purpose and they have worked extremely well for me. I have stored legumes with and without liquid. But I find when you are freezing, cooking liquid helps.
How long do the cooked lentils last in the fridge?
I usually cook lentils just enough to last me as per my weekly menu plan. But from my past experiences, I find that my cooked lentils (moong dal, masoor dal, green/french lentils and toor dal) easily last me a week in the fridge. I once forgot to use a little bit of leftover Toor dal and it was its 10th day and found that it was still good to go! I would recommend 1 week in the fridge and about easily for 6 months in the freezer.
How long do the cooked (dried)beans last in the fridge?
I have easily had cooked beans last me 10 days in the fridge. It would probably have lasted a couple of days more but I have always consumed it within that period to know more. So in best conditions, I would say possibly 2 weeks maximum in the fridge (in California weather at least). If you think you need to store more for a longer period, freezing is the best option. Frozen beans lasts very easily to 8 months.
How to ensure longer shelf life of your cooked legumes?
As mentioned earlier, never use your hands in your beans since it helps in multiplying the bacteria easily and thereby spoilage. Use clean spoons if you have to. Refrigerate within 1 hour after cooking. Also, using salt to season your cooked beans acts as a natural preservative and thereby increases shelf life. You can season your dish accordingly later.