I was cooking some lentils in chicken broth. When the lentils seemed almost done (they had been simmering for 30 minutes or so), on a whim, I added a fair amount of Gouda cheese. There was still plenty of broth left, the cheese barely thickened the liquid and the taste was nice. I was looking forward to the lentils being done so I could enjoy them.

It's been over an hour since I added the cheese. I've kept it at a simmer ever since but the lentils are still not done. If anything, they are tougher now than when I added the cheese.

Is there a reason cheese would have this effect? There is still plenty of liquid, I started with at least 4:1, and there is still at least a good half inch of liquid above the level of the lentils.

What's going on?

EDIT From this question: Can Calcium Chloride be Used to Prevent Lentils from Bursting? I gather that the calcium in the cheese may be the issue, but it seems that it shouldn't have that much of an effect.

1 Answer 1


I have always been told that high acid-yielding foods can cause dried legumes to stay hard. I can't say that I have ever added Gouda (although it sounds delectable) but I have had dried beans stay hard when adding tomatoes too early in the cooking process. Wondering about this, I looked up Gouda and was quite surprised to find that it is a high acid-yielding food.

Could be other reasons such as legumes that are old or a hard water situation but I suspect you have already considered and eliminated those as you are very thorough. :)

  • 1
    Good point about the acid, I had no idea that Gouda was high acid. I just edited the question to cover the calcium, which can also have an effect. Perhaps combined the two issues were too much for my poor lentils (which are still tough :(
    – Jolenealaska
    Aug 27, 2014 at 15:00
  • I think salt can also prevent lentils from softening.
    – GdD
    Aug 27, 2014 at 15:03
  • @GdD I can't swear concerning lentils specifically, but beans in general do fine with salt. ATK has even taken to brining beans. Again, lentils may be an exception, but the "salt is bad for cooking beans" idea has been debunked.
    – Jolenealaska
    Aug 27, 2014 at 15:11
  • Beans and lentils are 2 different things, what works for one doesn't necessarily work for the other, but I'm happy to be proved wrong on this one.
    – GdD
    Aug 27, 2014 at 15:13
  • 2
    @Jolenealaska You are indeed correct about the calcium. After following the link you provided I took a look to see what I could find. Didn't have time to delve in too deep but I did read that calcium ions cause a reaction that prevents lentils from absorbing liquid. Also found that calcium chloride is often used in modern day canning as it keeps vegetables from absorbing so much canning liquid, thus helping to retain firmness.
    – Cindy
    Aug 27, 2014 at 15:28

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