I started cooking with whole foods about 20 years ago, and my process of becoming whole continues on a daily basis with the choices I make.
For me, one of the most obvious manifestation of being on the path is to cook dry chickpeas from scratch. I love soaking beans, lentils, split peas, rice, grains, or whatever. When I see the soaking bowl, I feel confident that I’ll be making something good.
Nutty, almost meaty chickpeas, are particularly satisfying. Coming up are two methods to cook dry chickpeas from scratch. Cook up a bunch and keep them in the fridge or freezer, ready for whenever you need them. You could start with my recipe for Chickpeas and Greens with sesame seeds and lemon.
The first method is the most common. You put your beans in a pot, heat the water to a boil, and simmer for hours. (Okay, maybe it’s not hours, but close to two).
While the beans simmer, there isn’t much you need to do. Just make sure the water level stays above the chickpeas, and periodically check for doneness.
Even so, the time on the stovetop used to cook dry chickpeas from scratch is a big barrier for a lot of people. Most of us use canned beans for this reason.
Canned beans are super convenient, and I always have some in the pantry, but canned beans are not really a whole food, and the quality of cooking from scratch is just so much better. It is also cheaper.
Pressure Cooked Beans
I’d love to introduce you to an even better way to cook dry chickpeas from scratch, and this is to use a pressure cooker. It reduces your cooking time for chickpeas by more than two-thirds, saving huge time and energy.
When you use a pressure cooker, you can have dinner on the table with scratch beans in under an hour.
If pressure cookers are something you’ve thought about giving a try, I have a post to help you make things easy.
Check out my comprehensive guide on “How To Use A Pressure Cooker Safely.”
- It includes a description of the types of pressure cookers on the market, along with my recommendations for inexpensive models you could buy.
- It includes photos and explanations for each component of the pressure cooker, demystifying how one operates.
- I explain in simple language how to use a pressure cooker to cook all kinds of whole foods.
- Most importantly, I cover safety, so you never have to worry.
Remember To Soak
You are ready to cook your beans from scratch, but wait! The first step is soaking. So ideally start in the morning, or the day before you plan to cook.
Place the chickpeas in a bowl and cover with two inches of water and a pinch of salt. The salt makes the chickpea skins more permeable and helps the beans to soak up more water.
The conventional wisdom to avoid salt is a myth. Salting will give you more flavor, softer beans, and fewer broken beans in the end.
Large beans like chickpeas require 4–6 hours of soaking time or overnight. Smaller beans, such as black beans, can do with 2–4 hours.
Soaking speeds up your cooking time. It also makes your beans more digestible, as it removes the water-soluble, gas-producing sugars from the beans. (The gases are released into the water, and drained off when soaked). So you do not have to be concerned as much about potential flatulence.
2 Quick Soaking Methods For Beans
If you do not have enough time for regular soaking, you can use one of the following quick soaking methods.
1. Soaking With Boiling Water
Pour boiling water over the beans to cover at least two inches. Add a pinch of salt, and soak for at least 20 minutes. The longer the better. Drain the water, rinse well, and proceed with your recipe.
2. Quick Cook In A Pressure Cooker
Another method is to put the beans in your pressure cooker. Add 4 times the amount of water to beans and a pinch of salt.
Close the lid, bring the cooker up to high pressure, and then turn off the heat.
Let the pressure come down naturally for 15 minutes.
If you are using a large bean, like a chickpea, you can cook for a few minutes at high pressure before turning off the heat.
Drain the cooking water, rinse well, and proceed with your recipe using fresh cold water.
Note that whichever quick soaking method you choose, it will still take longer to cook than a complete soak of 6 hours plus, so add a few minutes to the suggested cooking time in your recipe to guarantee that your beans fully cook.
Cook Dry Chickpeas From Scratch
- 2/3 cup dry chickpeas
- 3-4 cups water
Prepare the chickpeas for cooking
- Soak the dry chickpeas for at least 6 hours, or overnight. If you don’t have time, use one of the quick soak methods described above.
- Drain off the soaking water and rinse the beans three times with cold water. Rinsing helps to remove the water-soluble gas-producing sugars stored in the beans, making the beans more digestible.
- Use one of the following two methods to cook the beans. The first method uses a saucepan. The second method uses a pressure cooker.
1. Saucepan method for cooking chickpeas (cook time: 2 hours)
- Place the soaked and drained chickpeas into a saucepan along with 4 cups of cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, half covered, for 2 hours, or until the beans are fully cooked. Add more water if necessary. Check for doneness by slicing a chickpea in half. The center should be soft, and the same color throughout.
2. Pressure cooker method for cooking chickpeas (cook time: 40 minutes)
- Place the drained chickpeas into a pressure cooker along with 3 cups of cold water and a pinch of salt. Cover, and turn up to high heat. Once the pressure cooker reaches high pressure, adjust the heat down and cook under high pressure for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, and allow the pressure to come down naturally, or for at least 15 minutes.
- Jiggle the pressure regulator to release any residual pressure and remove the lid safely. Check for doneness by slicing a chickpea in half. The center should be soft, and the same color throughout.
- If the chickpeas are not done, replace the lid, turn up the heat, and bring the pressure cooker to high pressure. Cook for a few minutes, and then turn off the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally again.