Chickpeas – Basics 101

English: Hummus with chickpeas and parsley עבר...

English: Hummus with chickpeas and parsley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chickpeas

The main ingredient in ethnic dishes such as hummusfalafelsdalcassoulets and unsurpassed in soups, salads and side dishes, the chickpea is a legume rich in fiber, folate, magnesium, copper, selenium, zinc and a variety of photochemicals.

Select

Chickpeas (garbanzos) are available in bulk bins and prepackaged. When purchasing bulk make sure bins are covered, store turnover is good, beans are well shaped, evenly colored and no moisture or evidence of insect damage exists.

There are two basic types of chickpeas, desi and kabuli. The kabuli, common in the Middle East and the Mediterranean is a large cream-colored bean with a thin, light seed coat while the desi is closer to the wild chickpea–darker colored,  smaller and found in Indian markets.

White and green chickpeas

Store

At the High5Kitchen all beans are stored in glass containers with tight-fitting lids in cool, dark cupboards and although beans keep almost indefinitely this way, I use them within one year of purchase as older beans become tough and take longer to cook. I never store dry beans in the refrigerator because they could absorb water and spoil.

  • In the frig cooked chickpeas stay fresh for 3-4 days.
  • In the freezer cooked chickpeas are good for 3-6 months.

Basic Prep

Sorting

Before cooking, sort chickpeas and remove any small rocks, pieces of dirt and all beans which are misshapen, wrinkled, undersized, discolored or chipped.

Rinse before soaking or cooking

Rinse chickpeas thoroughly under cool water before soaking or cooking  because they are not washed (only air-cleaned) prior to packaging.

Long Soak

At room temperature, I will let the chickpeas soak for up to eight hours in three times their volume of water. If I have to leave the beans soaking for a longer period of time and to prevent sprouting, I refrigerate them.

Quick Soak 

Add rinsed chickpeas with three times their volume of water and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature. Discard soaking water, if desired, and  cook using cool water–1 part beans to 2 parts water.

No Soak

Add rinsed chickpeas with three times their volume of water and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Turn heat down. Simmer 1 to 3 hours until beans are tender.

Cooking Methods & Tips

  1. At the High5Kitchen we boil chickpeas 10 minutes before cooking to destroy nutrient-compromising compounds.
  2. I add aromatics such as caraway seed, dill, fennel, coriander, ginger,  epazote or kombu to decrease hard to digest sugars (and flatulence).
  3. The salt question. I do not salt until the chickpeas are almost done cooking (add one twist or so of the salt grinder) because salting slows down the cooking time. I do not find it toughens the skins. Some cooks salt when soaking (which speeds the cooking time) but I do not because I dislike the taste of salty beans and prefer the subtle flavors found when using different aromatics.
  4. To prevent chickpeas from becoming too soft  I sometimes add acidic ingredients, such as vinegars,  tomatoes, lemons or wine during the last 30 minutes of cooking to prevent splitting and preserve seed coats.
  5. Should you discard soaking water or not? While small amounts of vitamins and minerals remain in the soaked water resulting in more of a nutritional benefit, the chemical compounds found in the soaking water can sometimes affect the digestive tract causing discomfort and flatulence.  Some of these compounds are water soluble and are partially removed when discarding the water. While either method is fine, I rarely discard the soaking water.
  6. Removing chickpea skins. I have been unable to find out if chickpea skins have a nutritional value that warrants keeping rather than discarding them. You will have a creamier spread without skins. In soups and cassoulets it is much less noticeable.
  7. Save cooking liquid from chickpeas. This nutritional and flavorful liquid makes a great base for soups and sauces.
  8. For more flavor slightly under-cook chickpeas by about 15 minutes if you intend to freeze them or use them in other dishes requiring additional cooking time.

Slow Cook

I use a slow cooker (Crock pot) if I need to turn something on and leave it.  However, I believe the “low setting” is too low and I use the following method in the High5Kitchen, which results in tender, succulent chickpeas. The length of cooking time is dependent on the slow cooker, age of  the chickpeas, whether your water is hard or not and altitude.

High5Kitchen Slow Cook Method

  • soak beans overnight (or use quick soak method)
  • optional: drain and discard soak water
  • in large pot cover chickpeas with cold water (1 part beans to 2 parts water)
  • boil for 10 minutes on stove top
  • move chickpeas and place in slow cooker, adding aromatics, cook on high for 2-3 hours
  • cook on low for 4-6 hours or until firm yet tender
  • remove chickpea skins
  • cool in remaining liquid and refrigerate or freeze

High5Kitchen Stove Top Method

  • Soak chickpeas overnight.
  • Optional: Drain and discard water.
  • Transfer chickpeas to cooking pot. If discarding water, add cool water using two times more water than beans. 
  • Add the aromatics such as caraway seed, dill, fennel, coriander, ginger, epazote or kombu to decrease hard to digest sugars (and flatulence).
  • Bring chickpeas to a rolling boil for ten minutes.
  • Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook.  For firm chickpeas used in salads and pasta dishes, leave the lid off. For creamier chickpeas used in spreads such as hummus, soups, or casseroles leave the lid slightly ajar. (For the most even heating, after boiling remove from heat, cover tightly and move to oven preheated to 200 degree F and finish cooking).
  • Cook chickpeas for one hour and then start checking. Various factors affect when the chickpeas will be tender.  Simmer gently, stir occasionally and taste frequently.  Add more water if needed to keep chickpeas submerged.
  • Add one or two grinds of coarse sea salt when beans are almost tender but still firm.  Continue simmering until chickpeas are as tender as you need (firmer if you are going to freeze, use for salads or pasta dishes but tender for spreads and soups).
  • Remove chickpea skins, if desired.
  • Cool and store chickpeas in their cooking liquids.
  • If freezing in glass containers remember to leave room at the top for expansion.

Pressure Cooking:

If you prefer to use a pressure cooker and cut your cooking time take a peak at Pressure Cooker and Pressure Cooking 101.  I don’t recommend pressure cooking because of nutrient loss. SourceInfluence of Cooking Methods on Antioxidant Activity of Vegetables – Jiménez-Monreal – 2009 – Journal of Food Science – Wiley Online Library.

To Remove Chickpea Skins

Chickpea skins

Chickpea skins

visit Removing Chickpea Skins | High5Kitchen Celebrates Whole Foods.

Related High5Kitchen Links on Chickpeas

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