How to CookDIY FoodQuinoa & Other Grains

Which Grains to Rinse and Why

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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: The harsh reality about rinsing grains.


In many ways, we at Food52 are all about making your life easier: showing you how to cream butter and sugar without a fancy stand mixerhow to steam vegetables without a steamer, and how to prepare squid as if your life depended on it.

But today, we’re sorry to say that we’re about to tell you something you might not want to hear. And that’s that you should probably be rinsing your grains. We apologize for that information, but hear us out.

More: Overwhelmed by the wide world of grains? Here's your definitive grain guide.

In general, most grains should be rinsed for the simple purpose of removing any hidden debris. Lucky for you, most grains sold in stores in the U.S. are packaged, processed, and free from strange particles. Gena Hamshaw, our resident expert on all things vegan, even admits to rinsing only her quinoa.

So which grains should you rinse even when you're short on time? 

1. Farro, pictured above right, is often covered in a dry, powdery coating that should be rinsed off before cooking.

2. Rice that's high in starch content, such as sushi rice and jasmine, should be rinsed to reduce stickiness.

More: Everything you need to know about rice, and then some.

3. Quinoa has a bad reputation for being bitter. If you've ever experienced acrid quinoa, the culprit is a powdery resin called saponin. To get rid of quinoa's sharp flavor, you'll want to remove the saponin by thoroughly rinsing the seeds. While most quinoa sold in the US is washed and well-processed, it's still a safer bet to rinse it before cooking.

Simply dump the seeds in a large bowl of cold water, rub them together to loosen the saponin, and then strain the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, running water over the seeds until it runs clear. 

Photos by James Ransom

What are your rules for rinsing grains? Tell us in the comments below.

Tags: how-to & diy, grains, whole grains, quinoa, farro, rice, wheat berries, rye

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