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magical chickpea trick

so, i cooked some chickpeas today and i used the trick where you add a paste of flour, salt, and baking soda to the soaking water. you then rinse the peas well and cook as per normal (i usually toss in any dying herbs in the fridge and an onion or some garlic).

(for anyone who wants to try, it's a pound of chickpeas:2 T flour: 2 T salt: 2 t. baking soda)

well, much to my amazement, the trick totally works. they cooked so much faster and they are so much better than they have ever been before. they are like butter. seriously.

can anyone explain to me why this works? i was skeptical but now i'm totally converted.

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  1. Never heard of this trick and am glad to know about it. And have no idea why it would work.

    1. the trick is in the baking soda. By increasing the waters alkalinity you will speed the cooking of dried beans. Conversely do not add acid to the water of dried beans. I always salt my water when cooking beans. I can't see that the flour does anything unless it's self rising which would have baking powder in it.

      5 Replies
      1. re: scubadoo97

        I've heard of doing the baking soda thing with hazelnuts, too.

        1. re: MMRuth

          Yes, the baking soda trick for hazelnuts was one of those Wow! kitchen moments for me. It is so much more effective than toasting them and rolling them around in a towel. Less messy, too!

          1. re: MMRuth

            What exactly do you do with the hazelnuts? I love new kitchen tricks.

            1. re: ScarletB

              It's been so long since I've done it - but I recall that you add baking soda to water, boil, then blanch the hazelnuts and the skins come off. I think if you do a search for "hazelnuts" and "baking soda" and "skins" there might be posts with more specifics.

              1. re: MMRuth

                Boil the water, add a couple of Tbsps of baking soda, add the hazelnuts and boil for a couple of minutes. The water will turn almost black. Drain the nuts, rub the skins off, then put them on a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 325 until they are light brown and fragrant.

        2. Yes, I found this trick in one of Nigella's books (she got it from Anna Del Conte), and I love it. Though I think hers calls for 1T flour, 1T salt, and 1t soda.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Kagey

            I've used it, too, after reading about it "How to Eat". The chickpeas were exceptionally tender.

            1. re: emily

              Does it work for other legumes, or just chickpeas. I posted another thread a week or two ago about my difficulty in cooking beans that aren't mushy. I think we identified the problem (other than the actual overcooking) which is that I was using very fresh beans bought at the farmer's market, and their cooking time is much shorter. Great to know! I may try them again, but I am pretty discouraged.
              Anyway, does this trick work for other beans? Is there a reason to use this trick with new dried beans?
              Thanks!

              1. re: ScarletB

                In Britain, dried marrowfat peas are sometimes sold with a "steeping tablet" for the soaking water. I believe it is also just baking soda. Not sure if I would bother with the flour. But I do this kind of thing in the pressure cooker, anyway, so cooking time is not a big problem.

          2. How long do you soak them?

            1. pigtails, what happened with the chickpea skins?

              1 Reply
              1. re: alkapal

                the chickpea skins do not come off (or, not any more than normal). but they are softer. but not mushy. buttery is the best word to describe it. it is hard to describe exactly. but these chickpeas are, like, irresistable. i am not even overexagerating. you have to try it.

                i soaked them for nearly 24 hours.

                i have never heard of this hazelnut trick and i can't wait to try it!