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Cooking Split Peas

Updated on November 7, 2011
Yellow Split Peas
Yellow Split Peas | Source

Tasty But Tricky

I was inspired to write about cooking split peas after a recent experience. I'd had some yellow split peas in my pantry for many months, and I figured I should probably use them. So, I found a recipe for an Ethiopian dish called Kik Alicha, and got to work. I soaked my yellow split peas for seven hours, then started to boil them as I prepared the rest of the ingredients. However, even after an hour of boiling, the peas weren't quite cooked into a mash - they were soft enough to bite through, but still quite crunchy.

I figured that the fact they'd softened a little meant they needed more cooking time. So I left them to soak overnight, then started to boil them again the next morning. After a few hours, they finally cooked!

Using dried split peas is a great way to save money, and using whole ingredients like these is good for your health. I'd like to cook more with split peas in the future, so I did some research to figure out what had gone wrong (the recipe originally called for a cook time of 30 minutes).

I visited sites such as this one about 'split pea duds,' and learned what I'd pretty much figured out already: age has a lot to do with the cookability of dried split peas. These definitely weren't fresh, so I'm pretty sure that's what went wrong. In the future, I know I'll have more success with fresher split peas.

Some people believe that adding salt early during the cooking process and/or soaking the peas before boiling can affect whether or not they soften properly, but from my experience with cooking other types of dried legumes and beans, I don't think this matters as much as the age of the product.

From my experience and research, these are the things I've learned that help ensure you'll have success cooking split peas:

  • Try to get fresh split peas. Sometimes dried split peas can sit around for a while before being used. If you're unsure how old they are, ask.
  • Split peas in bags are more likely to be fresh. Storage in humid conditions, such as open bins in health food stores, can make split peas more difficult to cook. Purchasing split peas in a sealed plastic bag can help..
  • Store your split peas in an airtight container. Any moisture that gets into the peas during storage will make them less likely to soften.
  • Use them as soon as possible. Dried legumes can last a while in the pantry, but they still have a limited shelf-life. Keep track of how old your beans and legumes are.
Good luck cooking your own split peas! One more note: if after an hour or so, the peas haven't softened at all, they probably won't cook. So you don't have to spend any more time on them!

Here Are the Split Peas After Several Hours!

Cooked Yellow Split Peas
Cooked Yellow Split Peas | Source

What Are Your Experiences With Cooking Split Peas?

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    • profile image

      Shu 4 years ago

      Don’t soak them, it actually makes them remain hard.

    • Emma Larkins profile image

      Emma Larkins 5 years ago from Manchester, MD

      Yup, they were probably old!

    • profile image

      chris 5 years ago

      ive cooked the peas for 12 hours today but they are still crunchy

    • Emma Larkins profile image

      Emma Larkins 5 years ago from Manchester, MD

      Oh no, that's a bummer! All I can suggest is try and find a source where you know the peas are fresh - and don't leave them in your pantry for too long.

    • profile image

      mack 5 years ago

      Just made some 6 hour Crunch cruch soup yum yum yuck yuck. Hope they not unhealthy like unfilled potato etc

    • Emma Larkins profile image

      Emma Larkins 5 years ago from Manchester, MD

      Hmm, I've never heard of high heat being an issue. I would guess that the beans had been sitting around the grocery store for a while. I would explore other options of places where you know there is a high turnover rate, like the bulk barrels at certain stores.

    • profile image

      Dianne 5 years ago

      I cooked split peas tonight and they are not soft after many hours of cooking. I purchased them within the last month from a large gocery chain. I think it has to do with the starting heat. I have an old ugly stained 5 qt.crock pot that I have never had a problem with cooking pea soup about twice a year. I had a new 1 qt. pot that would be perfect size for one, but same problem, wouldn't soften. I have a new modern 3 qt. crock pot and they would not soften. Too high a heat??

    • Emma Larkins profile image

      Emma Larkins 6 years ago from Manchester, MD

      Hmm, sounds like your peas might be too old!

    • profile image

      sean 6 years ago

      after 8 hours, they are still hard.

    • Emma Larkins profile image

      Emma Larkins 6 years ago from Manchester, MD

      Glad it was useful! And you're right, the peas definitely take longer than beans!

    • LeisureLife profile image

      LeisureLife 6 years ago from USA

      Great info, thanks!

    • E. A. Wright profile image

      E. A. Wright 6 years ago from New York City

      Yeah, 30 minutes rarely is enough for dried beans, no matter what the recipe says. Frustrating, right? At least split peas cook more quickly than, say, black beans.