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Generally Recognized As True: Canned chick peas are good, but there's a better way

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Canned chick peas are good, but there's a better way

Canned chick peas are probably the easiest way to get them -- they are already cooked and you just have to drain them, rinse, and eat them straight away.

One of my general observations about life, though, is that where there is convenience, there is something significant lost somewhere else, and it almost always goes beyond a simple price difference.

There are some clear negatives to using canned chickpeas: canned chick peas are a bit soft and lacking in texture, and the briny solution they can them in is often rather salty and sometimes has preservatives in it. Some people suggest that they are significantly less nutritious (though no evidence is cited). They also take up a lot of space in storage. One way to avoid all of these things is to cook them from dried.

Preparing them from dried form overcomes these problems. It has the following advantages: their taste is stronger and much more natural and nuanced, and the taste is not overpowered by salt. They take up less volume in storage and can be decorative -- stored in a glass jar, for example, on the kitchen shelf. They're also cheaper -- a bag of dried chick peas is significantly less expensive than the equivalent in canned form and probably preserves the taste better when in storage for longer periods of time.

On the other hand, they do require a little bit of your time to prepare them and are therefore less convenient. But it doesn't take much time at all, and with a bit of planning it need not be inconvenient. Here is the procedure, in my case:

  • rinse and put 1 cup of dried chick peas into a bowl
  • put 3 cups of water into the same bowl (3:1 is the general idea -- 3 times as much water by volume as chickpeas)
  • let the above soak for 6-8 hours (i.e. overnight)
  • drain soaked chick peas
  • put beans and the same amount of fresh water as above in a pressure cooker for 17-18 minutes at 15 psi pressure (the cooking time starts when the pressure has built up in the cooker)
  • remove pressure cooker from heat and let it cool down until you can open the lid

After that, you can drain them and use them as you would with canned chickpeas. You can prepare larger quantities than above; it really depends on the size of your pressure cooker. I could prepare far more than that in mine, but I limit it to what I will use in the short-term. I suspect you could freeze a large volume of cooked chick peas and they'd be fine.

I did the above last night and ate them for breakfast with a spoonful of real mayonnaise, a couple of splashes of malt vinegar, and some pepper. You can add herbs. They look like breakfast cereal -- Corn Pops or something like that :)

If your pressure cooker has a higher or lower level of pressure, you can adjust cooking times up or down as appropriate. If yours is higher than 15 psi, for example, you may be able to reduce the cooking time. If lower, you will have to increase it. Mine has two settings -- 5 and 15, controlled by the configuration of the release valve.

Another thing: you can cook them directly from dried in a pressure cooker, but they take about twice as long to cook. Better to spend a couple of minutes the night before to start them soaking, I think. It's a good idea to make sure you rinse the dried chickpeas before soaking them, else you may find bits of grit and sand in them later on.

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4 comments:

Yuli said...

Thx, now i know what to do with canned peas. I thot there;s way too much bubble when rinsing them.

Aloha Jason said...

have u tried spouting them? it'll get the nutrients going and then u can cook if u want

mattbg said...

Aloha Jason, is soaking them overnight as good as sprouting? I do that anyway before cooking them.

Anonymous said...

Isn't mayo unhealthy (and undoing the chick pea goodness)? What if I don't have a pressure cooker?