Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

pulses the edible seeds of any legume such as beans, peas, or lentils. The name may be used for either fresh or dried seeds. They have been a major staple food in man’s diet since earliest times.

The word derives from the Latin puls, meaning pottage, and came into the English language at the end of the 13th century. It is still commonly used in Britain, although largely supplanted by the word legume, with which it is virtually synonymous; but it is not normally used in N. America.

Drying, the simplest way of preserving all food, is a technique particularly suited to pulses; their protein and fat content remains largely intact, while the flavour, although altered, remains good.