With a little luck, you might be able to find fresh chickpeas or garbanzo beans at a local farmers market in the summer. These green peas inside their fuzzy pods might look pretty different from the canned variety available at most supermarkets, but they’re just the raw, fresh version. Keep reading to learn the difference between raw, fresh, and canned chickpeas.
Garbanzo Beans & Chickpeas
Chickpeas are widely available in cans, dried, or—of course— blended into hummus. All of these products start as fresh chickpeas on a vine.
Chickpeas—or as they are sometimes known, garbanzo beans—were first domesticated almost 7,000 years ago in Western Asia. Today, they are grown almost everywhere in the world. The earliest hummus recipe we have is from the 13th century, but it’s a good bet people were eating some version of mashed up chickpeas long before then.
Chickpeas are a staple of many global cuisines. They’re the star of hummus and falafel. You’ll find dried chickpeas in Middle Eastern salads, Spanish tapas, Portuguese soups, Philippine desserts, and Indian dishes like chana masala. Dried chickpea flour is also a key ingredient in a traditional French flatbread from Nice, socca, and in the Indian fritters called pakoras.
Farmers across Europe and Asia have cultivated chickpeas for centuries, but it’s a relatively newer crop in the U.S. The American chickpea harvest saw a huge spike 2012, when it increased by more than 50 percent from the year before. Currently, most American chickpeas are grown in the Pacific Northwest.
How to Cook Fresh Garbanzo Beans
Fresh garbanzo beans need to be cooked. On their own, the raw peas would be difficult to digest. Cooking green chickpeas is simple. Just cover them in two inches of water and simmer for 25-35 minutes. A longer cooking time will yield softer, creamier beans perfect for hummus or soups. A shorter cooking time will result in firmer beans better suited for salads. Check the pot occasionally to make sure that the water hasn’t boiled away.
Dried Chickpeas vs Canned
Fresh chickpeas are picked while they are still green and in the pod. Dried chickpeas are left on the vine until both the plant and the bean have dried out. Dried garbanzo beans are usually the ones that get cooked and canned or turned into hummus.
Canned chickpeas are cooked and seasoned with salt prior to canning. Dried chickpeas are sold in a raw, dehydrated form. Before serving at home, they’ll need to be both rehydrated and cooked. This can be done by soaking the chickpeas in water for several hours before cooking, or by simmering over low heat for an extended time (exact time may vary depending on the age and dryness of the beans).
Canned chickpeas are ready to eat at a moments notice. This makes them useful solutions for a quick meal. Dried chickpeas have the advantage of being very inexpensive, and giving the cook more control to choose their desired texture and to add their own seasonings. Both options can lead to amazing meals.
Find your new favorite chickpea recipe in the Blue Apron Cookbook.