Lactose-Fermented Lentils

07 Dec

Fermenting Lentils

Well, after spending several days on the road and then spending another several days trying to get the phone company to fix our internet I am finally getting back to my correspondence and etc…

I have previously mentioned that one of our favorite beans was the pinto used heavily with Mexican dishes.  A few years back, after acquiring Nourishing Traditions, I began to ferment things…we have already talked about the lactose fermented kraut.  Well, once I got the hang of that I began fermenting everything to include pinto beans.  At first I was afraid to do this for fear that I would be eating spoiled food. As a word of encouragement, if something you attempt to ferment spoils, you will know it by the smell.  Properly fermented food has a pleasant smell not something that smells like death warmed over.  (Which is what spoiled beans smell like.)

Well anyway, with GAPS we had to give up the fermented pintos.  I did try fermenting Navy beans but they just were not the same.  For some time I have been considering fermenting lentils.  I was a bit skeptical of what they might taste like since they are completely different from pintos in texture and flavor.  Well, last week I decided to give fermented lentils a try.  I was more than pleasantly surprised by the texture and the taste and these will become a standard fermented food for us from now on.  They take a lot less time to make (less soaking, cooking time, and fermenting) and just as yummy as fermented pinto beans although different.

Finished Product

To make fermented lentils you start out with a pot of freshly cooked lentils–nothing but lentils and water. I usually soak my lentils for awhile and then drain the water off rinsing them in running water and then add fresh filtered water. Then I slow cook them until they are tender…usually about an hour.  After that I allow them to cool sufficiently so as not to kill the whey.

The recipe goes something like this– a pound of cooked lentils, 1 tablespoon of sea salt, 4 or more tablespoons of kefir/yogurt whey (I usually use a lot more), one small chopped onion, a crushed clove of garlic per jar. Stir it all together well and put it in a jar that has a good screw on lid. (Canning jars work perfectly for fermenting.  Sit the jars in a dish pan for a couple of days on the countertop and then rinse the outside of the jars off and transfer to the refrigerator.

(Fermented food has a tendency to off gas out of the lids which push some fluid out of the jars and can make a horrible mess and smell. Please make sure your lids are on tight, I have had jars of pinto beans blow their lids off and we’ve had to scrub beans off the ceiling.  Not a fun job.)  

My family likes their fermented beans with breakfast as a side to their eggs but they go well with most meals.  And very good with salsa.

Yummy Beans and Salsa!!


Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Fermented Foods, Lentils


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13 responses to “Lactose-Fermented Lentils

  1. Alyssa Colby

    January 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    I want to try this with salt-fermentation. Have you ever fermented pigeon peas?

    • basicgaps

      January 20, 2012 at 11:38 pm


      No, I have not tried fermenting pigeon peas but I have fermented pintos and navy beans.

  2. blah blah

    October 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    I accidentally ended up fermenting some lentils. The plan was to sprout or cook them. I put them in water in a plastic container in the fridge. I kept putting off cooking them or working them over to sprout them though. One day turned into two into four … after about a week, I noticed there were bubbles on top of the water. I drained the beans, and they were making a snap, crackle, pop noise. I knew they were starting to ferment. Plus, they smelled like kim-chee…sort of spicy kraut smell. Decided “hey, why not let it go and see what happens?” Put an over-sized plastic lid on the container, and shoved it into the cupboard. I’ll check on it in a few days.

  3. Gene Hardcastle

    November 8, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    after cooking the lentils did you pour all the water off and then put in enough whey to cover then so in the jar there were no air space around the lentils?

    when you put the lentil’s in the jar were the lentils covered with liquid if so what liquid? and how much space left on top below the lid….

    • basicgaps

      November 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm

      I try to not use excess water when I cook my lentils, just enough to keep them moist. If you have a lot of excess moisture you can drain that off but it is not necessary.

      Maybe, I should state it like this. Depending on the consistency that you want, put the lentils and any liquid from them into a bowl. Add the whey and salt to this, mix it together and then pack your jars.

      Head space on the jars should be about an inch or a tad less. Because lentils are not as dense as pintos I have found that they are not as sensitive to exploding.

      • Gene Hardcastle

        November 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm

        I soaked lentils to sprout, little sprout tails maybe 1/8 long…then cooked then on low heat for 1 to 2 hours, used some onion and raw garlic in bender then added the lentils, blended till smooth, this was more than needed to fill a pint wide mouth canning jar, put lid on tight. Now is the third day, lid seemed very tight so I loosened the lid and a volcano. the contents about 1 inch come out, so I took some out to about 1/2 inch below the top (same as when I did at the start) and put lid back on for more fermenting.
        how long till the fermenting stops?
        what happens if I leave the contents say 2 inches below at first and leave the lid loose?
        does the fermenting have to have the pressure to work in the fermenting process?

        some say taste and when it tastes ok put it in refrigerator to stop or slow the fermenting. seems like there would be a best time to refrigerate, ssay by taste, time, or when the bubbling stop.
        I would like some input to my concerns

      • basicgaps

        November 12, 2012 at 12:40 am

        It is truly best to not open your jars until you are ready to move things to cold storage. I know some people say they slightly twist the lids to let off a little gas to take the pressure off. I see no reason to do this. My opinion is that the tighter the anaerobic process the safer your final product is going to be.

        The rule of thumb is 2-4 days out and then move to cold storage. This is not 100% hard and fast because it depends on the temperature in the home. If it is cooler an extra day or two maybe needed…if it is warmer less time is needed. Once you transfer something to cool storage the fermentation will slow down…this will often release some of the pressure so that the jar will not spew when opened.

        I hope that this has been somewhat helpful.

    • Dan

      February 1, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Hi, just to let you know your post is still being used as a reference and I found it very useful. One question is whether you have any thoughts on how long to leave your ferment bubbling. My lentils started bubbling after 2 days (its winter here) I left for 1 more day then moved to the fridge. I wonder whether I was being too cautious and should have left actively fermenting for another day.

      • basicgaps

        February 1, 2015 at 1:31 pm

        Thanks for the comment.
        Three days is an average. When in doubt you can easily go four or five. But if you had a good working action on day two, they will probably be fine. One way of telling if the lentils are done is to look carefully at the jar and observe whether or not you can see a change in color/texture from what you put into the jar. All fermented foods take on a bit of a color/texture change and with only a small amount of practice one can quickly recognize a finished product. I’d say, since you have already slowed down the fermentation process go ahead and give them a try. If it’s still a bit salty to taste and does not have that nice zinginess that goes with a freshly opened jar of ferments then you know that you needed another day or two.

        A properly prepared batch of ferments should not spoil if let sit out longer than the suggested time. If you have a good anaerobic action going on inside of your jar then the food group that is inside the jar should just continue to “work”. It actually takes a long time for a jar of ferments to get to the stage of overdone. The goal of stating average times is to get the best flavor and texture.

        I hope your fermenting experience will be very successful!

  4. kristyreal

    October 16, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    I am going to try fermenting lentils tonight and thought I’d do a search to see if anyone has. Good information, but you need to be very careful when selecting jars to ferment beans. If there is the slightest flaw, the jar can explode. You’ve been lucky so far that the lid was the weakest link, but that may not always be the case (even though I’m sure you didn’t feel lucky cleaning beans off the ceiling – lol). Beans and high sugar content ferments can explode jars easily.

    • basicgaps

      October 25, 2013 at 11:59 am

      Yes, you are correct, now that you have jogged my memory; I have had a jar break in the past. I try to give the jar a tad more head space and try not to put the bands on too tight so the gas can leak out. If you give the jar too much head space the contents will mold.

      Thanks for pointing this out.

  5. Michelle Doeffinger

    February 10, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    If the lids are on tight, can’t that cause the glass jar to explode?

    • basicgaps

      February 18, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      Yes, it can but the goal is to not put them on overly tight. Like all ferments, there has to be enough room for air to escape. And as kristyreal commented, flawed jars will explode. Usually, I watch the beans work in the jars, and if there is any oozing out, I wash off the jar and then put it in the fridge to finish off-that slows down the fermentation. It takes a little practice to get the hang of if. I have found that lentils (and Navy beans) really are not nearly as explosive as when I used to make pintos.


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