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Cooking quinoa

u
uwsgrazer May 22, 2012 07:34 AM

I've prepared a quinoa salad at least half a dozen times. Up until these last two times the quinoa always came out fine. But this time some of the grains were hard in the center; you could even see that the center was white, not the cream color of the outside of the grains. The first time I noticed this I figured I undercooked the quinoa, so I made sure the cook it a bit longer this last time. It didn't seem to help. I don't want to end up with overcooked quinoa so I'm reluctant to increase the cooking time further. I'm wondering if this particular batch of quinoa might be old, or at least part of the batch is stale. Any ideas?

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  1. firecooked RE: uwsgrazer May 22, 2012 11:57 AM

    Sounds like you need more water and / or more time. Yes, you can overcook quinoa, but its much more tolerant that rice as far as over cooking.

    1 Reply
    1. re: firecooked
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      cleopatra999 RE: firecooked May 22, 2012 01:29 PM

      use your rice cooker, perfect every time. I think you might be right that your quinoa might be partly to blame.

    2. gansu girl RE: uwsgrazer May 22, 2012 04:26 PM

      Is there *anything* different this time? A new brand of quinoa? A different pan? Liquid? It does sound like you didn't have enough liquid, and yet you say you've made this multiple times . . . so maybe it's a bad batch of quinoa? FWIW, I cook quinoa all the time (never in a rice cooker) and I've never had this happen - I find it much easier/more forgiving than rice. My bet's on the quinoa itself.

      GG
      http://www.semisweetonline.com

      1 Reply
      1. re: gansu girl
        u
        uwsgrazer RE: gansu girl May 22, 2012 06:14 PM

        Hmm, I guess it's possible the quinoa is a different brand. I don't know. The store I bought the quinoa from is the same but it's possible that they source from a different provider now. That said, I'm not sure how likely that really is. Definitely not using a different pot and I'm following the same recipe, i.e., should be using the same amount of water. I feel confident that I used the correct amounts in both instances. Even if I didn't it's unlikely I would have made the exact same mistake twice.

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        LauraGrace RE: uwsgrazer May 22, 2012 06:23 PM

        I dunno, I find quinoa SO much more forgiving, and I mean exponentially more forgiving, than rice -- I've left it on the burner covered (so plenty of water left) for ten minutes past when I should have taken it off and it was just fine.

        5 Replies
        1. re: LauraGrace
          u
          uwsgrazer RE: LauraGrace May 22, 2012 06:50 PM

          Okay. Maybe I'm undercooking the quinoa. I guess next time I'll just let it cook and cook ... until I see no white centers whatsoever

          1. re: uwsgrazer
            l
            LauraGrace RE: uwsgrazer May 22, 2012 07:21 PM

            On all the packages I've seen it says to cook somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes OR until the little curlicue germ spirals out of each "grain" (I know they're not grains, but what is an individual quinoa called, fercryinoutloud? ;). FWIW, red and black quinoa seem to take quite a bit longer to cook than the white variety.

            1. re: LauraGrace
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              uwsgrazer RE: LauraGrace May 22, 2012 08:38 PM

              I'm working from Dorie Greenspan's "quinoa, fruit, and nut salad" recipe. She calls for 3 c. water for 1 1/2 c. quinoa. "Cook gently for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the grans have expanded -- when they're cooked, each little grain will have a thin ring around it. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let it sit for 5 minutes."

              1. re: uwsgrazer
                gansu girl RE: uwsgrazer May 23, 2012 03:23 AM

                First off, that recipe sounds delicious! Second, the water:quinoa proportions seem right - that's what I always use. I think it's the timing. I've never had quinoa cook in 12-15 min., most often 15-20, sometimes 25 minutes. Is your water completely absorbed in 12-15 minutes? Or are you having to drain it? With those proportions, you can definitely simmer it 'til all the water's absorbed - then I turn off the heat and leave it on the burner (I have gas, so it's just what's left in the grate), covered, for at least another 5-10 minutes.

                GG
                http://www.semisweetonline.com

                1. re: gansu girl
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                  uwsgrazer RE: gansu girl May 23, 2012 06:20 AM

                  GG, the water is mostly absorbed -- not completely, probably, but not really any different the last two times vs. earlier. I always end up straining it, just because that's what the recipe says and as prior to this CH post I didn't realize that quinoa was so "sturdy".

                  Okay, based on everyone's input (thank you all!) I'm going to finish off what's left of this batch of quinoa I have. I'll err on the side of more not less time on the stove. I'll post after I've prepared the recipe, though it may not be for a few weeks.

                  Thanks again. I really appreciate all the different feedback

        2. gansu girl RE: uwsgrazer Jun 11, 2012 03:17 AM

          @uwsgrazer - thought I'd pop back here w/a link re cooking quinoa - Martha Shulman from the NYTimes has quinoa salads all week and in her intro here talks about her different ratios for cooking different kinds of quinoa . . . thought it might be interesting: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/11/hea...

          All - she'll have quinoa salads w/spring veg all week - should be great!

          GG
          http://www.semisweetonline.com

          1 Reply
          1. re: gansu girl
            u
            uwsgrazer RE: gansu girl Jun 11, 2012 08:16 PM

            @gansu girl -- thanks for popping back and sharing that NYT link. I completely missed the quinoa discussion. How did that happen?

            Interesting, Martha Shulman would call for only 2 1/4 c water where Dorie Greenspan would use 3 c. Gosh, if I followed those proportions I would think the quinoa would come out so dry as to be barely edible. Go figure.

            So, I made the quinoa salad one more time. I didn't report (till now) as I have the same issue with grains before hard in the center, even though I let the quinoa cook longer than I ever have before. But the batch of quinoa was a mix of the suspect goods and a new purchase. I suppose the true test (or as close as can be) will be when I make salad with only this fresh quinoa. No immediate plans to prepare quinoa salad, in part because of I'm so tired of eating slightly hard quinoa! But I will be sure to report back after I do.

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