proto-Foodie Blog: Microwaving Quinoa in a Mason Jar

Mason jars are all the thing, for those who didn’t get the memo.  Being the slave that I am to following trends, I have knuckled under and become quite into mason jars.  I’m mostly using them to store dry goods that I’ve vacuum sealed inside them (which, btw, really rocks), but I also use them for making yogurt in, or just kind of anything else that strikes my fancy.

So, the other day, when I decided I wanted to cook up some quinoa that I’ve had for a while, it quickly became apparent that I was going to want to microwave cook it in a jar if I could.  Google being my friend, it didn’t take long to find confirmation that this would be safe (I had a bad experience once, exploding a glass jar by getting it too hot, so I needed the confirmation to try it), and I found some basic instructions for the microwave part.  I followed them somewhat closely, and ended up with a puddle of steamy quinoa all over the turn-table of my microwave, and a mess all over the jar.  But the stuff in the jar was very tasty, and I was able to enjoy from it for several days.

Today, I thought I’d use that experience to make another batch that would work out better.  And it did, but I still had a puddle of steamy quinoa in the microwave, albeit a much smaller one.  And, with what happened next, I have a much more solid plan for how to do this the next time (and it was so, so good this time that I know there will be a next time).

What I’ll Do Next Time:

  1. Measure 1 cup of quinoa into a wide-mouth quart mason jar.
  2. Rinse it four or five times (I do this in the jar, using a screw-on straining lid I got for making sprouts with, but you could likely get similar or better results with a piece of used nylon stockings stretched over the lid and held with a screw-on ring), because (for those not in the know) quinoa can have a bitter coating on the seeds that will rinse off.  But dry quinoa that has been exposed to water is annoyingly sticky in ways that just take some practice to be able to deal with, so be ready to be a bit patient.  This much rinsing will add up to a bit of soaking of the quinoa, which some recipes suggest, but most agree that it’s not really necessary — it doesn’t hurt anything.
  3. Once it is well rinsed, add enough water to reach the 20 oz line (2.5 cups) on the jar (if it has one) or add about 2 cups of water.  You can add a pinch of salt at this point if you want — I usually do, but I didn’t the second time, and everything went fine.
  4. Put it in the microwave for 4-5 minutes on high (watch to see when it begins to boil over, because that’s when you want to stop it.  Stir it thoroughly to avoid dry clumps in the quinoa, and to evenly mix the seeds and the water.  Then, let it sit in the microwave (holds in a bit of heat), stirring it every minute or so as it cooks in the residual heat.  In about five minutes, if the quinoa hasn’t absorbed most of the water, give it another 30-60 seconds of microwave time to heat things up, then let it sit, stirring it every minute or so, until it has absorbed the water.

And then you’re done, and it’s ready to eat/use.  This morning, I fixed it up as cereal, with about 1/2 cup of cereal, 1 T margarine/butter, 4 packets of non-nutritive sweetener, a dash of cinnamon (freshly ground!), stirred up, and then topped with 1-2 T heavy whipping cream, and 6 drops of vanilla extract.  It was good enough I did it a second time.

When it cooled (the remnant), I put a plastic lid on the jar and put it in the fridge.

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