I recently started cooking my own chickpeas from scratch instead of buying them canned and there’s at least 37 really good reasons to do this. For example:
– They taste a million times better
– They cost a fraction of canned chickpeas ($1.60 per pound, or about 4x cheaper)
– You can control the sodium
– No added chemicals, preservatives, or weird stuff like BPA from the can liners.
– By freezing a few bags, you always have a convenient supply of cooked chickpeas right when you need them.
The first time I made these, I practically ate the entire batch like it was popcorn. Freshly-cooked chickpeas have a much more satisfying firm texture, softer flavors, and a sense of freshness that you just can’t get from something that’s been sitting in brine for months.
Best of all, the process of cooking chickpeas is incredibly simple, so I thought I’d put together a quick tutorial on how it’s done. Trust me, you’ll never go back to canned beans again…
Step One: Buy
Repeat after me: “I will not be afraid of the bulk bins.” Seriously, the bulk bins are my favorite part of the grocery store. You can save 50% or more on products that are (usually) fresher and have less waste than their prepackaged counterparts. That’s definitely the case here. $1.60 for a pound of chickpeas will yield about 3.5 cans which would cost 4-5x as much.
So grab the big spoon and measure out about a pound of chickpeas. See how easy this is so far?
Step Two: Soak
Chickpeas need to soak before cooking – preferably overnight. You might be able to get by with 3 hours, but 8 is ideal. A good rule of thumb is to allow them to double in size, as you can see from the photos above.
I like to rinse the chickpeas as well. So pour them into a large bowl and fill with water, then run your hands through them to sort out any debris. Pour that water out and fill again with fresh soaking water. Set aside overnight.
Step Three: Cook
You need to cook the chickpeas for an hour, or up to 90 minutes if you want them really soft. So begin warming a big stockpot of water. Drain the chickpeas of their soaking water and pour them into the stockpot when it reaches a boil. If you want salty chickpeas, now is the time to add salt into the water. I added a full teaspoon (remember, most of it will get drained out with the water) and they turned out perfect. Now turn down the heat slightly and allow them to simmer for 60+ minutes.
Step Four: Drain
If you’re freezing the chickpeas (next step), draining is super important to remove the moisture so that you don’t end up with a bag of ice later on. Once you’ve tasted the chickpeas to ensure they’re soft and the raw/green taste is gone, remove them from the heat and carefully pour them through your colander (preferably a 1970’s-era baby blue one…) and just let them sit there for 10-20 minutes, so that the steam & moisture can evaporate. You can use these as-is now, or freeze them for later use.
Step Five: Freeze
The best way to make sure you always have chickpeas on hand is to make a big ol’ batch like this and then freeze them so that you don’t have to go through this entire process each time you want some curry or chickpea tuna salad. So, once the chickpeas are thoroughly drained and dry, pour them into a Tupperware container or zip-top bag and freeze for up to a year.
Pro Tip: One of the problems with fresh chickpeas is trying to figure out how many to use in recipes that call for “1 can of chickpeas.” I figured out that one can is approximately 14 oz (by volume) of chickpeas. So get out a measuring cup and portion out 14 oz of chickpeas into each zip-top bag and freeze each “can” individually.
That’s all there is to it! If you’re ready to kick the can for good, you can apply the same process to all the canned beans in your cupboard for fresher, cheaper, tastier, and (potentially) healthier beans that are just as convenient as the slimy canned versions.