The mature, dry seeds only are considered under this head.
Legumes- peas, beans and lentils form an important part of the vegetarian dietary, containing as they do a so much larger proportion of the muscle-building material than flesh meats, and being at the same time inexpensive.
Another advantage is that they are grown in considerable variety in nearly all countries.
We have beans-white, large and small; colored, of all shades and sizes; peas-dry, green and yellow, split and whole, chick peas and other varieties; lentils-German or Austrian, red or Egyptian. The ground nut or peanut is also a legume.
Chick peas are found in the Italian groceries or macaroni stores. They have a rich flavor peculiar to themselves.
The Soy bean, most common in China and India, has almost no starch and is richer in oil than any other legume.
The legumes require a prolonged, slow cooking to render them digestible and to develop their rich flavors. The hulls of some are difficult of digestion. It is for this reason that we suggest rubbing legumes through a colander in so many recipes. Experiments have proven, also, that a larger percentage of their nutritive value is assimilated when the hulls are excluded.
Parboiling causes beans to be flat and tasteless; then the need is felt of a piece of pork or at least a lump of butter; while if they are put at once, without soaking, into the water in which they are to be cooked, their own rich, characteristic flavor (which nothing can replace) will be retained.
The large, dark flowering beans and a few other colored ones are exceptions, and should be parboiled, as their flavor is so rich that it may be denominated "strong."
Nearly all legumes for stewing or baking should be put into boiling salted water (most authorities to the contrary notwithstanding), to keep them from cooking to pieces and to preserve their color and flavor. In sections where the altitude is great, however, legumes must be soaked for several hours and be put to cooking in cold, soft water; even then a longer time will be required for cooking than nearer the sea level.
The water may be rendered soft by boiling and settling, if necessary, Soft or distilled water will cause legumes to be more digestible at any altitude. Rain water is the very best. Most legumes about double in bulk in cooking.