Instructions on how to cook chickpeas in the slow cooker – my new favorite way of cooking any legume.
Have you seen the commercials for direcTV? I’m talking about the ones with far-fetched hypothetical scenarios that lead to misfortunes as a result of cable TV service outage. How we decided to remodel our kitchen is like one of those stories. Here’s how it goes:
“When your husband can’t get ice out of the freezer for a cold drink in the 100-year-old house that you just bought, he decides to get a new refrigerator.
When the refrigerator arrives in the delivery truck, we learn the counter it must get past to get into the kitchen isn’t code compliant, as it’s too long.
When the risk of turning the refrigerator on it’s side to pass over the non-compliant counter to get it into the kitchen is to lose all warranties, the delivery men leave with the refrigerator.
When all hope for ice cubes is driven away, the husband begins to plan to take out the non-compliant counter.
When he begins drawing ideas for taking out the non-compliant counter, suddenly you’re designing a counter-height dining table with cabinets underneath it to replace the non-compliant counter, which eliminates the need (and space) for the dining room set the wife loves.
So, if you don’t want to ending up selling a dining room table you love, make sure you buy a house that has a freezer that makes ice for cold drinks.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited over the new kitchen, really really excited, and I can’t wait to see the new table island, but it does seem silly at times to realize we’re doing all this to get ice cubes.
So the remodel starts next Tuesday, and my slow cooker is about to become my new best friend. It will take a few weeks to get the new floor, countertop, cabinets, appliances, sink, lighting and counter-height table in. Someday I’ll use the calculator function on my iPhone to see what the payback is as measured by bags of ice.
In anticipation of a month of slow cooker dinners, I started experimenting with cooking beans. And I’ve gotta tell you, it’s now the ONLY way I cook dried beans. As a note: chickpeas are loaded with protein, and are generally my “go-to” bean, so these directions are specific to them.
Do you have problems getting your beans to soften?
One of the most common complaints I hear from readers about cooking beans from a dried form is that sometimes they stay firm, or at least never completely soften. There are a number of things that can cause this:
1. The beans were improperly stored, or are too old. Beans stored for longer than 12 months may never soften.
2. The beans hardened during an unusually hot humid growing season.
3. Acids were added during the cooking process, like tomatoes or citrus. Acids harden the skin of beans.
4. I’ve read that hard water (mineral-rich water) may make it very difficult to soften beans.
Things you can do to get tough beans to completely cook:
1. Add 1/4 tsp – 1/2 tsp baking soda per 1 gallon water, although you risk mushy beans if they’re normal. This will also shorten the cook time.
2. Add 3 Tbsp salt per 1 gallon water, but don’t do this in addition to the baking soda.
3. Use a pressure cooker and add 10 minutes to the cook time.
4. Pre-soak the beans overnight. This should be done in conjunction with the other recommendations.
5. Use vegetable broth if your water is unusually hard.
- Cook time is dependent on the type, size, and age of bean, and slow-cookers vary. I cut a couple of beans in half to check for doneness.
- I never, ever remember to pre-soak my beans. If you have a better memory, and want to shorten the cook time, cover the beans with a couple of inches of water in a heavy pot for an overnight pre-soak.
- If you forget to do a pre-soak, but still want to shorten the cook time, simmer the beans for 10 minutes, drain, and add to the slow cooker with fresh broth. I recommend pre-heating the broth.
- I used to be in the no salting until they’re cooked camp. I’ve since changed my opinion. I add 1 tsp salt for every 1 cup dried beans in the beginning before the water heats up.
- For other ways of cooking chickpeas, go here.
A toxin called phytohaemagglutinin, also known as kidney bean lectin, is found in many beans – and is particularly high in kidney beans. In fact, ingesting just a few raw, or improperly cooked, kidney beans can make you very sick. Slow cookers don’t heat the beans to a high enough temperature to rid them of the toxin, and in fact can make it worse. Other beans, including white kidney beans, broad beans and lima beans, contain the same toxin in smaller but still dangerous amounts. This is easily solved by boiling them for 10 minutes, draining, and then cook in fresh broth or water in the slow cooker. This risk does not apply to chickpeas.
A great way to cook chickpeas is in the slow-cooker. No worries about water boiling away, and the beans are much less inclined to split apart. You'll get beautiful cooked chickpeas every time.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 32 ounces vegetable broth or water
- 1/2 onion, peeled but otherwise left whole
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 dried pepper (optional)
- If you haven't pre-soaked the chickpeas overnight, spread the dried beans on a baking sheet and throw out any stones. Rinse well.
- Place the beans in the slow cooker with the vegetable broth (or water), onion, salt, and dried pepper if using. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or until tender. Drain.
- Reserve any leftover liquid to use as a vegetable broth substitute in other recipes. Discard the onion and dried pepper.