Cooking Dried Chickpeas & the Resulting Chickpea Stock
More than any other bean, cooking dried chickpeas at home, taste so much better than canned or jarred and about at one quarter the price. One pound of dried chickpeas cooks up to 6–7 cups, the equivalent of 4-5 cans. Cooked from dried, chickpeas have a nutty taste with a slight sweetness.
Soaking Dried Chickpeas
Over the years of cooking dried chickpeas and experimenting with soaking methods, I have found the “overnight” soaking method to give the best result in the final cooked chickpeas. Overnight translates into a minimum of 8 hours, but 16 hours seems to be the charm.
Before soaking the chickpeas they need to be sorted and picked over for any foreign particles, then rinsed well and drained. Usually I use the same pot to soak the chickpeas as I will for the cooking. Add the chickpeas to the pot and 3 times the amount of filtered water and place a lid on the pot to avoid dust and particles falling in the pot. After 8 hours drain the water and add fresh filtered water. Leave to soak for another 8 hours before cooking. Then drain that water and add fresh filtered or boiled water to start the cooking. (See the instructions below). Overnight soaking makes the chickpeas cook more evenly and have a creamier texture. The “quick soak” method of bringing the chickpeas to a boil for a couple minutes, then turning off the heat and leave to rest for 1–2 hours doesn’t give quite as good of results. The chickpeas take longer to cook and sometimes are somewhat tough or gritty even when fully cooked.
Cooking Dried Chickpeas to the Right Doneness for Your Dishes
Cooking from dried also has the advantage of cooking to the desired texture. For a softer bean, simmer longer checking about every 10 minutes until done to the tenderness you like. The firmer bean is good for chickpea dishes where the beans stay whole, while the softer version is perfect for when you will be blending the beans, like in hummus. You can do both in one batch. Cook to the firmness you like for your dish and pull the amount needed out with a strainer. Leave the amount you want softer in the cooking water and continue simmering until the beans reach the softness for hummus or other blended bean dishes and condiments.
The Resulting Chickpea Stock
One of the perks of cooking dried chickpeas from scratch, besides the wonderful taste and cooking versatility, is the chickpea stock, “aquafaba,” that comes from cooking the chickpeas. Unlike vegetable stocks, chickpea stock develops a gelatin-like viscosity, and when reduced gets even thicker. This is perfect for sauces that you want to reduce or thicken. Chickpea stock is great for nut-based cream sauces too. It whips up to a thick foamy consistency much like egg whites and it turns white in color.
I often add a spice bag with the spices typically used in the chickpea dishes I make during the cooking to give a fuller flavor, but a spice bag is not necessary to achieve a good stock. The chickpea stock that results from the cooking water is really good in pilafs, soups, sauces and of course bean dishes. The spice combination used in this recipe is ideal for the Moroccan Inspired Warm-spiced Chickpeas.
But, if you don’t know what you will use the chickpea stock for, leave out the spice bag so you can use for any dish. Chickpea stock can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days in the refrigerator and in the freezer for about three months. The cooked chickpeas can be refrigerated for up to four days.
Finding Good Chickpeas
It is important to get the freshest dried chickpeas available. Chickpeas that are old don’t cook up as well, sometimes have a gritty, chalky texture even when completely cooked through, and take much longer. The fresher the chickpeas are, the faster and more evenly they cook. Mediterranean and middle-eastern markets are really good sources, since chickpeas are a staple in that part of the world. Health food stores, local coop stores and grocery stores with a high turnover on bulk goods are also good sources.
Chickpea dishes to try: