How can I reuse or recycle well out-of-date red lentils?

The other day I was making some tomato & lentil soup for lunch when I found the pack and a half of red lentils in our store cupboard actually went out of (best before) date in January 2008. That’s pushing it even for our very lax attitude toward best before dates – and is especially special considering we moved house in September 2009 – we brought those packs with us from our own store cupboard to our new one even though they were already 18 months out of date…

Thankfully, we had a newly bought pack that I could use for my soup but I’m left in a typical Recycle This situation with the others: what else can I use the old lentils for?

Given dried beans & pulses do generally last forever, I’ll probably try the ones from the sealed pack but the open-for-God-knows-how-long pack are definitely passed being cooked & eaten.

So what else can I use them for instead of just throwing them in the compost bin?

Apparently, they can be used to make exfoliating facemasks – crushed and mixed with a little water until they reach an “oatmeal like consistency”, then rubbed onto the face and left for about half an hour. Similarly, Lush sell a “lentil shampoo bar” – not sure whether there are actually lentils in it or just the water from soaking them for about half an hour but the latter is a technique used as a conditioner in India – so either using the water in a shampoo bar or just as a rinse are options too.

Any other ideas?

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14 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle well out-of-date red lentils?”

  1. strowger says:

    if there are no signs of decay, i’d just use them.

    otherwise, compost.

  2. Catt of the Garage says:

    I agree. The only way they’d degrade is if they started to absorb water and then went mouldy. If there is no sign of this, then they are safe to eat. They might take longer to cook than normal, as they have been dry for several years!

    If you prefer not to, you can of course compost them (maybe soak them first so the worms can get their teeth in (!)), or if you have kids you can use them to make pictures by painting with glue and then sprinkling the lentils over. They also make a great low-mess sandpit for little kids and babies – put them in a biscuit tin and provide spoons and cups to scoop up and pour them with. Hours of fun! Then compost when you’re finished with them.

    Alternatively use them as baking beans when baking pastry flan cases – line the raw flan case with greaseproof paper and pour in the lentils to weight it down when baking. You can use them repeatedly, but make sure you keep them in a well-labelled jar – once they’ve been baked, they won’t rehydrate properly and would make very strange soup!

  3. Cipollina says:

    If they’re still hard and fine looking (and mot mouldy or something), they can be used in children’s crafts. Making mosacs from all kinds of colourful lentils and beans and macaroni and stuff using flour glue on cardboard is fun! If you add some salt in the glue the artwork can be kept for ever.

  4. I use all sorts of dried legumes and grains in hot/cold packs and pattern weights. They’d be fine in beanbag toys, too.

  5. Bellen says:

    Try sprouting them – great in salads, sandwiches and in soup.

    Lentil flour? Grind them in a blender or food processor, use for up to 1/4 flour called for in recipe. Might want to sift out larger pieces depending on recipe.

    Plant them – if nothing more than to have a green plant in the house or an interesting garden plant.

  6. Barbara in AZ says:

    I agree with Cipollina in the art project. OR layer in a small vase with other colorful stuff. Maybe a glass lamp of some kind. Have fun!

  7. bookstorebabe says:

    I second the hot/cold packs idea. These are especially nice for cold packs, because they can conform to whatever area needs cold. Heck, my doctor recommended using a package of frozen peas for a cold pack, so lentils sound perfect for a make your own.

  8. Sarah says:

    Was just contemplating putting some lentils in a used plastic drink bottle to make a maraca for my baby daughter. They’re much prettier than rice! Bit of tape around the top and you have a free toy. Now just have to find a waking moment…

  9. dahan says:

    Bean bags and musical instruments!! Thats what i did last month with my little guy.
    If you’re childless, well.. They’re still fun right!

  10. Susan says:

    They are used by crafters when displaying small crafted items at craft fairs. Pour them in a small dish and you can position small crafted items to catch the shopper’s eye. Imagine a display with lots of plain white dishes or teacups filled with red lentils. In each dish is a crafted ring, necklace, anigurami, etc. It makes a nice, inexpensive, effective organic display.

  11. Fleur says:

    I recognise this! I have loads of dried pulses in my kitchen cupboard that has moved from various locations with me. I would eat them. The whole point of dried pulses is to store them so they keep for a long time. If you aren’t happy to do this definitely use as a scrub as you suggest, and for kid’s crafts. Not sure how compostable they are?

  12. Linda says:

    You could cook them up for a high protein feed for your chickens and then feast on the resulting eggs!

  13. Susannah says:

    I have just consumed some red lentils that went out of date 20 years ago, and I am fine!

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