Hummus, a humble dish of pureed chickpeas, sesame paste, and olive oil, is probably the best recognized and most popular Middle Eastern food. You can buy it in even the tiniest grocery store in the smallest rural town. In fact, you can probably find everything from the simplest garlic hummus to fancy versions that incorporate olives, roasted red pepper, eggplant, or even beets.
The convenience of buying prepared hummus is obvious: just open the container and start dipping. But there are plenty of advantages to making your own hummus at home, not the least of which are the difference in price and the fact that you can control what goes into the dip you’re going to feed to your kids. There is also the fun of trying out different recipes, including the ones created by celebrity chefs like Alton Brown, Gordon Ramsay, of Jamie Oliver.
Pinterest is filled with page after page of hummus recipes. Even the keyword suggestions from Pinterest’s Guided Search scroll on for many pages! But according to the folks at the Kitchn, the most popular hummus recipe right now is the Barefoot Contessa recipe. As the recipe they link to has been saved 41,000 times on Pinterest, you know they aren’t exaggerating its popularity!
The recipe is a nice, clean, simple one that really only strays from traditional hummus in its addition of hot sauce. The problem? It begins with canned chickpeas.
Oh. And we almost never buy canned beans.
It is so discouraging that almost every recipe that uses beans calls for commercially prepared canned beans! And almost no recipe ever comes with instructions for converting to dried beans. So if you prefer to use dry beans for the ease of storage, health benefits or huge cost savings, you are going to have to work harder to use those recipes.
Fortunately, Ina Garten has kindly spelled things out very clearly in her hummus recipe. She measures the amount of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) in cups instead of cans. And she is measuring the drained beans, instead of the beans in their liquid. So it’s easy enough to be sure that you’ll have the exact quantity of cooked chickpeas to make this popular hummus. She was even kind enough to give the amount of reserved liquid needed to make Barefoot Contessa hummus – and she suggests using water as a substitute in case the cooking liquid isn’t available.
(Note: Many other recipes won’t tell you how much liquid to add. Fortunately, the texture of the hummus is what dictates how much liquid to add. So just make sure there’s enough cooking liquid or plain water to process the beans into a smooth puree. If your hummus seems a bit dry, you can add more of the cooking liquid. Or just increase the amount of olive oil a wee bit!)
Getting Started: How Many Beans to Use
Cooking any recipe that calls for canned beans raises the question of dry bean to canned bean conversion. Exactly how should you measure your beans, and how many dried chickpeas do you need to make your favourite hummus?
There are a number of web sites that offer conversion charts for dry beans to cooked bean amounts. But I really have to take my hat off to Daniel Gritzer of Serious Eats, who tackled the question like a true food scientist. He measured the volume of dried beans before cooking and then weighed and measured the same beans after cooking and draining.
According to his results, one pound of chickpeas is just under 3 cups when dry. The cooked and drained beans will weigh 3 lb 4 oz and its volume will be 7 cups.
So how many dry chickpeas do you need to make the Barefoot Contessa’s hummus recipe? Well, the recipe calls for “2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved.” That’s less than a third of the yield if you were to start with a pound of dried garbanzos. So you have a few options:
Start with just under 1/3 lb, or around 5 oz of dried garbanzo beans;
Try to find other recipes that call for chickpeas so you can use up the extra beans you’ll be cooking;
Get a pressure canner and learn to can your own legumes so you can enjoy the convenience of canned beans without worrying about BPA and other chemical additives;
Triple your recipe and serve hummus to the whole neighbourhood;
Resort to using canned beans and avoid the conversion headache altogether.
Or, you could simply learn to freeze your cooked beans! This way, you can cook a large batch of dried beans – any kind – in advance. You then divide them into smaller portions for your favourite recipes.
Freezing Leftover Beans
I only discovered that cooked beans can be frozen about a year ago. And I have to admit, I’ve only done it a couple of times. It was super handy when I wanted to make last-minute chili. And yes, I have used frozen chickpeas to make hummus. There was absolutely no taste difference in the hummus but I did have to add extra oil because I’d frozen my beans without liquid, the way most people seem to do it.
I’ve since learned that freezing beans in their cooking liquid is not only possible but recommended. According to Erin Alderson of Naturally Ella, freezing beans in their cooking liquid helps to stave off freezer burn. This would be especially true if you’re storing your beans in rigid containers like canning jars, rather than in freezer bags. If you do opt to store cooked beans without liquid in rigid containers – say, for salads or burritos – you should use these sooner than the beans that are stored in their cooking liquid.
To freeze chickpeas in their cooking liquid, be sure you are working with cooled beans (this is both for general safety and to decrease the chances of foodborne illness.) Measure them into freezer-safe canning jars and then pour the cooking liquid over them. A standard 15-oz can of beans contains about 1-1/2 cups of beans once drained. That will fill a pint (500 ml) jar once the cooking liquid has been added, leaving 1/2” headspace. If you prefer, you can also measure out the 2 cups the Barefoot Contessa hummus recipe calls for. If you don’t have a freezer-safe jar that will hold this many beans, you can use a freezer bag or another freezer-safe rigid container instead.
To use beans frozen in liquid, let them thaw slowly in the fridge (it will take about a day) or place the container in cool water to defrost. This will speed up thawing time, while at the same time helping to keep harmful bacteria at bay. If you have frozen your beans without liquid, you can defrost them more quickly in cool water. I wouldn’t suggest trying to use them frozen, as you might if you were cooking up a batch of chili – at least, not unless you want hummus that has the consistency of a frozen fruit smoothie!
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Original content © 2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
Featured image made in Canva using a public domain graphic by Pixabay user Ajale
This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!