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I was cooking some organic black eyed peas earlier today and I found what appeared to be worms. I had the peas for about 1.5 weeks before I cooked them.

  • Is this common?
  • I did rinse the peas before cooking them, but clearly that wasn't enough. What steps can I take to prevent this (assuming this the norm for organic black eyed peas)
  • How long are these good for? (Should I eat them sooner?)
  • I had taken a few spoonfuls before I finally realized this -- should I be concerned?

enter image description here

I apologize for such an elementary question. I've recently been told by my physician that I need to make some diet changes, so I've been cooking with foods I would otherwise not eat.

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Look more like bits of bean skin than worms. Dried beans should last for months/years before going bad. That said, insect pests can and do get into stored seeds. Rinse and sieve will get rid of most of them. The remainder are a good source of protein. –  Wayfaring Stranger Jul 11 '13 at 21:56
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2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

To take one concern away - practically none of the worm-looking parasites in food are dangerous. They are yucky, but harmless, even nutritious.

But as far as I can see it from the picture, these are not worms at all. Beans and related plants have an embryo in their seeds. In white legumes, the embryo is a light pink color and looks indeed like a larva. The way to check is to look at the still-intact beans. They are all made up of two symmetrical halves inside. Cut them open through the plane which separates the two halves. If they have your suspect at the concave part of the bean, where it used to attach to the pod, then this is the embryo, just a normal part of the seed which is supposed to grow into a new plant when planted.

If the embryo of multiple beans looks differently from that (or is too small to notice), then these may be larvae after all. In this case, you will probably choose to discard the food because of the disgust factor. It is still not objectively unsafe.

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I agree, they appear to have "sprouted" - did you leave them sitting around overnight after you rinsed them? No worms, that has happened to me more than once. –  user19182 Jul 12 '13 at 20:05
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I have frequently had this in perfectly kept, unsprouted white beans. This thing is a part of every bean, just like a stone is a part of every cherry. Its looks and size depend on the particular variety. But no need for the beans to sprout for it to be visible and pink. –  rumtscho Jul 13 '13 at 16:08
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Without taking anything away from Rumtscho's answer, in general with black eyed peas and other legumes, it is a good idea to sort through them prior to cooking.

Spread them out in a sheet pan (so they don't get away from you), and just go through. Remove any small stones, twigs, obviously malformed beans, and so on that you find. The modern automated producers have really good equipment that means this step may not be necessary, but you probably should still check for beans from smaller producers like organic brands.

If there were any worms or other creatures in your beans (at least larger ones), you would see them and remove them during the sorting process.

Then you can rinse, soak, or cook as per your normal procedures.

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