The Benefits of Puy Lentils
We’re all about Puy lentils here at Merchant Gourmet, but many people might wonder ‘what’s so special about Puy’? If you know, you know; but if you don’t, we’ve summed up the top benefits of Puy lentils which make them so darn good!
A rich heritage: The region of Le Puy-en-Velay, in the South of France is formed from ancient volcanic lava domes, which make the land incredibly fertile. This, combined with the high altitude where the valley sits, creates a uniquely dry and warm microclimate – the perfect condition in which to grow the delicate Puy lentil. This variety of lentil was actually brought over by the Romans some 2000 years ago, which is why the lentils thrive in an area with conditions similar to the Mediterranean climate in which they originated.
Natural cultivation: The Puy lentil has its own protected designation of origin status – which means that to use the name Puy lentil, it must be grown, harvested and packed in the region of Le Puy. To get this special EU status, the farmers also have to make sure they stick to some strict rules including, not using any pesticides and no irrigation. Although this exposure to the elements, makes Puy lentils an incredibly fragile crop to harvest, it takes a very skilled farmer to grow, which means you get the most natural, untouched, almost organic qualities in a Puy lentil.
Quality & Taste: What makes Puy lentils different to other lentils, is their delicate thin membrane and peppery taste, caused by the special growing conditions that prevent them from maturing fully. This means the lentils are incredibly delicate, yet retain a firm bite, they don’t lose their texture and cook faster than other lentils.
A force for good: The Puy region stretches over a 50k parameter home to 88 small villages, within which there are approximately 600 farmers. The farmers have to rotate their crops on small pieces of land – around 100 metre squared – generally over a 7 year period, to ensure the land is well looked after and that each crop benefits from the previous crop (each crop pumps the ground with nitrogen, which acts as a natural fertiliser). The farmers form a cooperative within the region which means they get paid upfront by the lentil suppliers such as Merchant Gourmet and are offered subsidised insurance in order to help support their business, particularly during bad harvests, as Puy crops are so fragile and dependant on the climate.
Plant-based simplicity: With a high protein and fibre content, Puy lentils are an all rounder when it comes to nutrition. Being high in protein makes Puy a perfect, natural, plant-based alternative to meat or more processed ingredients in many recipes, with their firm texture working great in recipes such as veggie meatballs and burgers. As a completely natural ingredient, a portion of Puy lentils counts towards 1 of your 5 a day, which means that Puy recipes are guaranteed to give you a certain level of nutritional value and can go a long way to help in the fight to reduce meat consumption.
But how do you pronounce Puy?: The source of much confusion! Not to be confused with ‘Pouy’ or ‘Pwa’ you actually pronounce it ‘Pwee’! But don’t just take it from us, listen to the French pronounce it in the video below!
To find out more about Puy lentils, where they come from and how they’re grown then watch our ‘Puy Story’ video to get the low-down: