The World's Healthiest Foods

How long does it take to cook garbanzo beans?

Q. I have a recipe that calls for first soaking garbanzo beans for 8 hours, then grinding them in the food processor, and then baking them for 15 minutes at 350F. Is this enough cooking time for garbanzo beans?

A. One of the most common uses of garbanzo beans worldwide (and especially in the Middle East) is the making of falafel. Recipes for falafel usually call for the exact first two steps you describe: overnight soaking of the dried garbanzo beans for 8 hours, and then grinding of the beans (in a modern kitchen, with the help of a food processor). The only difference involves your third step, because the ground garbanzo beans are usually fried in oil for the making of falafel - at a temperature of about 375F for a period of 3-5 minutes. Your oven baking at 3-5 times the length of time on a slightly lower heat seems fairly comparable to us, and we do like the idea of avoiding overheated oil (as would be the case with most falafel recipes). The fried garbanzo beans are usually highly seasoned and then served inside of pita bread to complete the falafel dish, and a yogurt sauce is also often added.

Raw beans do have anti-nutritional factors that can interfere with nutrient absorption. Also, one of the concerns with raw beans is the presence of hemaglutinin, which can have a negative impact on red blood cells. We have seen some research that suggests that cooking for only several minutes can greatly reduce the hemagluttinin activity. We would assume that since the garbanzo beans were soaked (which has been found to reduce hemagluttinin and trypsin inhibitor activity) and ground, which exposes more of the bean to direct heat and therefore reduces the cooking time, that there is unlikely to be a hemagluttin risk from your garbanzo beans.

Raffinose - a trisaccharide consisting of the sugars galactose, glucose, and fructose all hooked together - is one of the components in beans that has been associated with the creation of gas in our intestinal tract after the beans are eaten. The soaking of beans overnight has been shown to help reduce their raffinose content. That's another reason why we think your recipe follows some sound health principles. We recommend not only draining the beans, however, but also rinsing them thoroughly before you put them into your food processor for grinding. In this way, you'll be removing any of the unwanted substances that leeched out of the beans into the soaking water.

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