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GRAINS – How to Cook Them

Cooking grains of all types is a simple process. However, it is a process that must be followed for perfect, well cooked, fluffy grains. The same process is used with most grains. Exceptions are mentioned below.


  1. Use the proper amount of water for the particular grain.
  2. Boil the water first, add the grain, put the lid on, lower the temperature to very low, and do NOT remove the lid until the time is complete.
  3. Remove the lid and stir or fluff the grains.

You must NEVER remove the lid during cooking. You must NEVER stir the grains while they are cooking. Why? Because the grains form little craters as they cook, essentially steaming themselves. When you remove the lid or worse, remove the lid and stir the grains, you destroy the cooking process. When people say it is impossible to cook rice, it is always because they did not measure the water to grain ratio correctly, time correctly, or most often, they removed the lid and stirred.


  1. If cooking Arborio rice, you add some of the grain, stir, and continue this process until it is smooth and creamy and cooked.
  2. If cooking quinoa, rinse the grain first prior to adding it to the boiling water.
  3. Some people like to wash all grains prior to cooking, which is fine.
  4. Some people like to sprout grains prior to cooking.
grain grain to liquid preparation characteristics
Cooking times and liquid amounts are approximate. Length of time stored since harvest can cause fluctuations in the time needed to cook a grain. Always check to see if done 5 minutes before the shortest specified cooking time, and be prepared to cook it longer than the longest specified time.
Amaranth 1 : 2 Simmer 25-30 minutes Sticky and slightly bitter. Try adding to soups. Best prepared as porridge. Gluten free.
Barley, hulled 1 : 4 Pre-soak 6-8 hours. Simmer 60 to 90 minutes. High fiber, with only the outer shell removed. Good in cold salads, soups and stew.
Barley, pearled 1 : 3 Simmer 40 minutes to 1 hour. If pre-soaked, cook 15 minutes. Bran is scrubbed off. Less chewy and cooks faster than hulled barley.
Buckwheat groats/kasha (raw or roasted) 1 : 2 Simmer 10 minutes, covered. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Not wheat, but a fruit seed with no gluten. Mix with a beaten egg in a skillet, simmer with chicken broth, onions and mushrooms. Gluten free.
Bulgur 1 : 1 1/2 Pour boiling water over and soak 30 to 40 minutes, no cooking needed. Whole wheat. Blend with garlic, mint, parsley, tomatoes, olive oil and lemon juice for tabbouleh. Serve hot for dinner.
Farro (Emmer) 1 : 4 Pre-soak 6 to 8 hours. Simmer 45 to 60 minutes. Firm and chewy, slightly nutty. Good in cold salads, soups and stews.
Flakes: barley, kamut, rye or spelt 1 : 3 Add to boiling water, simmer 30 minutes. Combine with other grains for porridge or stir uncooked into muffin batters.
Millet 1 : 2 1/4 Simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. The most alkaline of grains. Good with vegetables or stews. For porridge, cook in milk. Gluten free.
Oat groats 1 : 3 Simmer 50 to 60 minutes Heartier and more rustic than oatmeal.
Polenta (yellow corn grits) 1 : 4 1/2 Whisk into boiling liquid, stir constantly 5 to 10 minutes. Cover and let stand. Partly refined. Excellent with braised greens, roasted veggies, eggplant, and tomatoes.
Quinoa (black, white or red) 1 : 2 Rinse well, cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Fluff and serve. High in protein, light texture. Combines nicely with other cooked grains. Gluten-free.
Rice 1 : 2 Add to boiling water. Simmer, covered, 30 to 50 minutes. Fluff with fork. See our rice brochure for information on varieties and choosing the right rice for a recipe.
Rye, whole 1 : 4 Un-soaked, cooks in 90 minutes. Pre-soaked, 50 to 60 minutes. Chewy. Good mixed with rice or other grains. Try with onions and caraway seeds. High in protein.
Spelt, whole 1 : 2 1/2 Pre-soak 6 to 8 hours. Simmer 50 to 60 minutes. More protein than wheat. Combine with millet or barley for creative salads.
Teff 1 : 3 1/2 Simmer 15 to 20 minutes, covered. Makes a creamy, sticky porridge with a natural hint of molasses. Gluten-free, high in iron.
Wheat berries, whole 1 : 3 Pre-soak 6 to 8 hours. Simmer 50 to 60 minutes. Full-flavored. Makes sturdy side dish.
Wild rice 1 : 3 Simmer 45 to 70 minutes. Not a true rice, but the seed of a marshy grass. Low fat, high fiber and protein. Gluten free.