Cooking soaked garbanzos with baking soda, but why??

I used the garbanzo cooking method in the Food52 hummus recipe. After soaking the beans, you put them in a pot and add some baking soda and stir over heat for about 3 minutes before adding water to boil them in. I guess it breaks down the skin of the garbanzos to yield a creamier hummus. It definitely worked but I'm wondering HOW the baking soda accomplishes this and also does this decrease the nutritional value of the beans??

  • Posted by: Natalie
  • July 12, 2015


Greenstuff July 14, 2015
Baking soda is alkaline (opposed to acidic) and promotes the breakdown of cellulose-type material that make up plant cell walls, especially prevalent in that tough outer skin. It's a similar process to using lye to make hominy from corn.
SKK July 13, 2015
The baking soda is important if you are making falafel because it makes the beans softer. In my experience, if you purchase dried beans in a place with high turnover it is not so important. You will not get old beans which take forever to soften. Your question is based on chemistry - how does baking soda accomplish creamier I do not know.

C S. July 13, 2015
I don't know specifically about garbanzos but in nutrition classes 40 years ago we were taught not to add baking soda to green beans. It is great for the color but destroys some of the B vitamins. It might be worth looking into further.
arcane54 July 13, 2015
When I used this method (from Yottam Ottolenghi) it didn't break down the skin so much as made the skin separate from the bean. Once the skins loosen up, most of them will float and they're easier to remove. It results in a silken smooth hummus -- well worth it. I'm not sure about the nutritional effect, though and defer to others who might know.
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