How to Sort Lentils

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By: Rachae's Nosheri


Lentils are one of the most nutritious and versatile foods available, able to be included in salads, stews, soups and as side dishes.

Sorting lentils carefully is crucial to producing quality results; this article details how to do so.


Lentils are a versatile pantry staple, serving up everything from stews and salads to side dishes and soups. Their easy digestion, affordability and longevity mean they make for great stockpiling opportunities – you won’t run out before you get around to using all your supply! However, not all lentil varieties taste equally; each will alter their texture, taste and cook time accordingly.

Color is often the key indicator when it comes to distinguishing lentils between varieties, though there can also be variations in size: brown lentils typically range between 3-9mm in diameter while red and black varieties can often be much larger than their counterparts. Each variety offers unique flavor profiles and uses, so knowing these differences when shopping can be crucially helpful.

Sort your lentils carefully when sorting, making sure to remove any that are misshapen, chipped, or have visible flaws. Any pieces resembling small pebbles should also be eliminated as these could produce tough textures in the soup or recipes if cooked – some lentils require pre-soaking before being put through their paces, while others can benefit from being spiced with some Asafoetida as part of a tadka (seasoning) sauce.

For people with sensitive stomachs or food allergies, it’s a wise precaution to rinse sorted lentils before including them in your recipe. When rinsing, keep an eye out for any foreign material such as grains that could pose problems for those living with celiac disease or gluten related conditions.

Once all the bad lentils have been eliminated from your recipe, the next step should be adding them to boiling water. As they heat up, dead lentils may rise to the surface and must be scooped off – an annoying process but well worth doing to avoid stone soup! When adding them into the pot, try to balance out lentil variance by doling out batches at 150 millisecond intervals.


Lentils come in various shades from light khaki brown to dark brown, making them the go-to ingredient in standard lentil soup, mujadara recipe and Indian dal recipes. Boasting high levels of protein, fiber and iron they provide an excellent vegetarian source of plant-based protein as well as adding an earthy, nutty taste that enhances salads or veggie burgers alike.

Brown lentils hold their shape well when cooked, making them the ideal ingredient in soups and stews. Packed with protein and fiber, brown lentils help provide satisfying meals without leaving you feeling overstuffed afterwards.

Red lentils are smaller than their brown counterparts and take on a lighter pinkish hue when cooked, making them the ideal choice for hearty lentil stews or Middle Eastern cuisine. Packed full of antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and support digestive health, red lentils are sure to bring you many delicious meals this winter season!

Green lentils are easily the most recognizable type of lentil variety due to their beautiful, vibrant sage hue when cooked. Perfect for rice pilafs and salads alike, green lentils boast fresh flavors while holding their shape better when heated compared to other varieties. Rich in proteins, dietary fiber, calcium folate and potassium.

Black lentils are less widely known than their counterparts and often take on an inky hue when cooked, giving them a distinctive earthy flavor and texture that pairs perfectly with dishes such as risotto. Plus they’re packed full of soluble fiber, protein and essential minerals like iron and zinc for good measure!

Sorting lentils prior to cooking is essential, as even though this doesn’t happen frequently, debris such as grit can sometimes get mixed in with them. One effective method for doing this is arranging them on a cutting board in order of size and color with large brown lentils near one edge and small green lentils at the other – creating an orderly progression between these extremes.

Rinse the lentils thoroughly until all the water runs clear in a colander and transfer to a pot of boiling salted water, covering and simmering them according to your recipe’s recommendations until tender but not soggy.


Lentils vary considerably in texture and shape, and while one or two misshapen lentils in your soup might not cause harm, nobody wants to accidentally chip their tooth on an unruly pebble. By carefully sorting through your dried lentils you can avoid an unwelcome mouthful of rocks! Additionally, this step can ensure your lentils haven’t been contaminated by other grains such as gluten – this step is also helpful for celiac disease sufferers, since even one off-limit grain could take them beyond the 10 mg daily threshold which most consider safe.

Make it part of your routine to sort lentils every time you open a bag – this only takes a few seconds but could save you the hassle (and discomfort) of eating stone soup!

Step one in making lentils involves washing and sifting them to ensure you have the appropriate type of legume for your recipe. Doing this can reveal any stones or debris hiding within, as well as show whether there are any varieties which need further refinement before proceeding with cooking.

Next, arrange your lentils by color on a flat surface. You can do this manually or using a strainer; using the latter allows you to keep larger lentils together and smaller ones separate – helping prevent clumping during cooking – and you can remove any misshaped or soft lentils during this process.

Once the lentils are prepared, follow the package directions to prepare and cook them according to package recommendations – avoid overdoing it! For an extra special flavor boost when boiling your lentils add bay leaves, garlic cloves, onion pieces and salt as well as any desired herbs such as oregano or bouquet garni to give your dishes extra zest!

Add vegetables like carrots, celery and onions for an earthier yet sweeter experience. Start the cooking process off right by sauteeing vegetables in olive oil first – this not only speeds up their preparation time but will help preserve texture and flavor longer!


Lentils are packed with fiber and protein, making them an essential staple of healthy diets. While lentils may appear boring to some, their preparation and seasoning options allow for variety in their flavors – sweet, nutty, spicy or earthy notes can come alive by simply adjusting salt levels and other ingredients to bring out more distinct taste profiles in these versatile legumes.

One way to enhance the flavor of lentils is to boil them with fresh herbs in water – this will not only add extra nutrition but also flavor!

Add zesty flair by mixing in lemon or vinegar as part of the cooking process. While too early addition of these acidic ingredients could prevent lentils from reaching peak tenderness, stirring them back in after they have reached desired texture is no issue.

Before cooking your lentils, it is crucial that they are cleaned and sorted through carefully as they often contain bits of grit or debris clinging to them. Use a strainer and carefully pour your lentils into it; after they have been drained out, run your fingers through them again to ensure no hidden bits remain behind.

Use a fine-mesh sieve (affiliate link) to sort through your lentils. Pour them slowly into it and inspect to make sure no stones or debris were missed.

Color is key when it comes to sorting lentils, so start by dividing your lentils into two piles, one featuring lighter hues, while the other darker ones. Check that no lentil is in both piles before continuing your work until all have been separated into their appropriate categories.

As soon as you’re ready to cook lentils, ensure the heat remains at a low simmer – this will prevent overcooking or sogginess from occurring and prolong their texture and firmness. How long they need to simmer will depend on which kind of lentils are in your recipe as well as your personal preferences for firmness.

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Rachae's Nosheri

Rachael’s Nosheri is a Jewish deli located in 120 S. 19th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103. We serve breakfast and lunch comfort foods and deli sandwiches. Our extensive menu and reasonable prices make us a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Our food is pretty good if you’re in the mood for deli sandwiches, and we’re known for our American, Bagels, Breakfast, Lunch Specials, and Sandwiches.

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