Rinsing Quinoa: Do I Really Have to Do That?

There are certain labor-intensive recipe phrases that can make the most diligent cook roll her eyes. "Do I really have to do that?" we wonder. Every week, we will track down the answer to that question. Why? Because as much as we love cooking, we're kind of lazy. Leave your Do I Really Have To Do That? questions in the comments and they shall be answered, saving us all a lot of needless trouble.

You're already a quinoa expert, thanks to its Jennifer Lawrence-like ascent to "it" grain. You know, for instance, that the part we eat is actually a seed, that it's pronounced KEEN-wah (not kee-NOH-ah), and that it's been a high-protein mainstay in South America since long before Machu Picchu. You might even have more advanced-level knowledge, like a preference for the red variety (word). But do you know why we're supposed to rinse it and, more importantly, if we really have to?

Quinoa has a natural bitter coating of saponins, which dissolve when quinoa is rinsed. Some people are more sensitive to the soapy taste of saponins than others. As a lazy cook, I don't think I've ever rinsed my quinoa, and haven't suffered consequences more severe than a pleasantly neutral, almost floral flavor in the end. Unfortunately, I seem to be in the minority in this, "why bother?" position.

"Unless the box specifically says that it's been pre-rinsed, yes, you do still need to rinse quinoa," Alejandra Ramos, the writer-cook behind Always Order Dessert told us. "Not all brands do this automatically so you can't assume." Even when it has been rinsed, our experts want us to do it again. Le sigh.

"Most commercially available quinoa has already been rinsed [and] had the soapy tasting outer coating of saponin removed," author and registered dietician Janet Brill told us. "That said, just like with most whole grains, the quinoa should be given a quick rinse to remove any residue or other inedible particles."

At least it's not that hard to do. "The easiest way to rinse quinoa is in a fine mesh strainer," Alejandra told us. "Just pour the dried quinoa in and hold it under cold running water, using your hands to stir. Let it drain right in the sieve while you measure your water or stock and then dump it right in."

Final verdict: Yes, you really have to do that. If you're buying a box of quinoa that specifically says it's been prerinsed, you could potentially skip this step. Even then, "it's always better to be safe than sorry," Alejandra reminded us, like a mom who carries band-aids in her purse. Rinsing quinoa isn't that laborious a process, and when you consider that not doing it could ruin your dinner, it's worth it.

Wondering if there's a step you can skip in the kitchen? Tweet your questions to @YahooShine with the hashtag #DoIReallyHaveToDoThat and we'll find out!

Do I really have to truss a chicken?

Do I really have to cook with wine?
Do I really have to brush mushrooms clean?