How Do I Choose the Best Chick Peas?

Kristeen Moore

Chick peas are healthy legumes that are also commonly referred to as garbanzo beans. The most nutritional chick peas come in the raw form, but there are certain steps that you need to take in order to ensure that you purchase the best quality versions. Frozen cooked chick peas are a viable option for later use, especially if you initially buy the raw food in bulk. Canned versions might be your best choice if you are trying to prepare meals in a hurry — just keep in mind that the preservation process often adds sodium to the food. Chick peas are cooked in a number of Middle Eastern and European dishes, and the type of legume you choose ultimately depends on your preference in texture.

Hummus is made primarily from chick peas and is often served sprinkled with paprika and drizzled with olive oil.
Hummus is made primarily from chick peas and is often served sprinkled with paprika and drizzled with olive oil.

Legumes are traditionally best when selected raw from the grocery store because they retain the highest nutritional value. When shopping for fresh garbanzo beans, you should avoid bins that contain bruised legumes, or ones with that have holes in them. If buying packaged chickpeas, you will need to sort through the product and remove any damaged ones before cooking. Purchasing the food in bulk generally ensures that you will get the best prices, but there is also a higher risk of getting a spoiled product.

Chick peas.
Chick peas.

Another advantage to buying raw garbanzo beans in bulk is that they tend to freeze well for future use. This is also gives you the option of adding the legumes to a dish in a hurry. Generally, cooked chickpeas can be stored in the freezer for up to two months. Keep in mind that the beans should be completely thawed before use.

Before cooking a dish with chick peas, the legumes must be washed thoroughly and cooked in order to soften them. Since this process can be time consuming, you might consider purchasing canned garbanzo beans as an alternative way for quickly preparing a meal. Just keep in mind that the convenience of canned chickpeas does come at a cost, since these foods often contain added salt. Also, some of the nutritional value is decreased during the canning process.

Garbanzo beans are extremely versatile, and they are used to make a number of dishes, from appetizers and soups, to casseroles and vegetable meals. Canned and frozen versions tend to have a slightly softer texture, so these are usually the best choices if you are going to mash the legumes to make dishes like hummus. If you want a slightly harder texture to complement a particular dish, then you should consider cooking raw chick peas instead.

Dried chick peas.
Dried chick peas.

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