Description. Lentils is a herbaceous plant; species of the Lentil genus, the Legume family. It is a leguminous crop. It is also called: common lentils, scarlet finch, lens.
Lentil is one of the oldest agricultural crops, it is widely cultivated as a food or fodder plant. Occasionally occurs as a weed.
The root of the plant is thin, unbranched, a stem is 15-75 cm high, erect, pubescent, strongly branching. Leaves are consecutive, short-petioled, paripinnate, leaflets are 3-7-paired on petioles, oval 1-2 cm in length and 0.3-0.8 cm in width. Pedicles are thick, end with the axis, inflorescences are small, 0.5-0.7 cm long, collected in the amount of 1-4 in the form of a trusses, of white, pink or purple color. Beans are dangling, rhombic, about 1 cm long, and about 8 mm wide. Its edible beans are black, brown, green and red (this depends on the variety). Depending on the size of the bean, lentils are divided into large-seed (plate) and small-seed. There are 1-3 pieces of seeds, they are flattened, with an almost sharp edge. The color of the seeds may differ depending on the variety.
Lentils blossoms in June-July.
The homeland of the plant is Southern Europe and Western Asia. Wild species of the plant grow in Southeast Europe, Asia Minor and Central Asia.
Lentil has a unique feature: the plant is not able to accumulate nitrates and radionuclides, even when grown in contaminated areas, it remains an environmentally friendly product.
Lentil is very unpretentious, it has the ability to tolerate short-term (-5 °C) frosts during the growing season. It is able to withstand a prolonged drought due to a extensive highly branched main root.
Despite the fact that the plant is unpretentious, preference is given to well-fertilized loosely loamy or sandy loam soils. Besides, the plant accepts acidified soils rather badly. It is better to take an open sunny place for the lentil, in the shade it is barely fruitful. An excellent option would be to sow it on the beds, in which potatoes, corn or winter crops grew the last year.
It is recommended to add phosphorus and potassium fertilizers to the soil, they must be applied before autumn or spring digging. It is best to sow crops early in the spring, when the earth defreezes 15-20 cm deep.
The seeds should be sown in grooves 4-5 cm deep; the distance between them is 12-15 cm. Then sprinkle the grooves with the soil and carefully compact it with hands.
After a couple of weeks, lentils will sprout; weed out inter-rows, so that weeds do not block the sprouts. We recommend weeding at noon time. The first one and a half months the lentils grows slowly enough, gaining strength for the future flowering.
Despite the fact that lentils are resistant to drought, the soil must be regularly moistened for 1.5 months after sowing, avoiding drying out. It can be watered 2-3 times a week (in the absence of rain).
Application. For many Asian peoples, lentils are one of the most important sources of protein, capable to replace the nutritional properties of cereals, bread. Lentils is very tasty, porridge, soups, skilly, garnishes are prepared from it; it is used with bread and vegetables since ancient times. In addition, since ancient times, lentils is valued as a medicinal plant.
Surely many people have seen different types of lentils in the shops, which one to choose? Let's figure it out. There are 4 types of lentils:
brown lentils, the most common species. It is used mainly for soups. It should be soaked in cold water for 12-20 hours before cooking,. After such preparation, lentils is cooked for 20-30 minutes.
green lentils is often used for cooking of various dishes from meat and rice, as well as salads. This sort of beans needs not to be pre-soaked, since it is immature grains.
red (or pink) lentils. The seeds of red lentils are free from the shell. Thanks to this, it is able to boil fully in 10-12 minutes. Such lentils are most often used to make puree and soups.
French green lentils. It is bred in France, it is this sort is considered the most delicious. Even without the addition of various spices, green lentils have a mild flavor, it also has an original marble pattern. Its skin is unusually soft, but it does not prevent it from remaining in shape during cooking. Therefore, this French lentils is used for soups, and for baked pudding, and for salads, and as a topping for meat and fish.