All grains should be washed carefully in water before eating. You should look for small rocks that occasionally show up in both bulk and packaged grains.
You can often enhance the flavor of grains by substituting some of the cooking water with either vegetable or low-fat chicken broth.
We like to cook extra beans and grains when we cook them and save some tightly covered in the refrigerator. A few tablespoons of left over cooked grains and beans can usually improve both salads and cooked dishes.
Rice is also grain but we have a separate page specifically for cooking rice.
You should ideally soak whole hull barley overnight before cooking and then rinse and place in a heavy covered pot with plenty of water to cover the barley. Cook over very low heat for over one hour.
Note: "Pearl Barley" can be cooked in about 30 minutes and does not require pre-soaking. However, we prefer the flavor of whole hull barley.
Quinoa is a small kernel grain that cooks quickly. We wash it very well, rubbing the grains under running water. Quinoa cooks in about 5 minutes.
Amaranth is a very small grain. Wash it well (not so easy because the grains are so small. Cook amaranth for 20 to 30 minutes. We like to add a small amount of amaranth to soups and stews for flavor even if the recipe does not include it.
Never, ever, add salt to beans either before or while you cook them. Add salt to taste at the table or during the last few minutes of cooking.
We use Black, Pinto, and Red beans in our recipes. If we soak the beans for an hour before cooking, all three types of beans cook in about an hour. If we don't have time to pre-soak the beans then we cook them for about 90 minutes.
A good trick when cooking beans is to add a teaspoon of cooking oil to the water while cooking. This adds flavor to the beans and also helps to keep the water from boiling over. Be very careful that beans are always covered with water during cooking.