Chickpeas | How It’s Grown
April 05, 2019 Marie Lödige By Marie Lödige

Chickpeas | How It’s Grown

One of our favourite beans. Well, actually it is a legume. And to be scientifically correct, it is part of the Fabaceae family, in the subfamily Faboideae called Cicer arietinum.

Origins of chickpeas

Chickpeas were domesticated about 9,000 B.C.E., so they can be considered an ancient crop. Originally they came from the Mediterranean basin (people think it originated in the Turkish region neighbouring Syria).1,2,3 From there it spread across the globe. India is now one of the main producers of chickpeas, but they are also grown on Canada and North America. 1,2,3 Strange, considering Canada and India have completely different climates.

How are chickpeas harvested and stored? 

Chickpea fields are harvested once the pods that hold the beans are yellow and mature. Once they reach that stage the field basically looks like any field full of wheat. Similar to wheat, they can be harvested with a combine. This gigantic beast of a machine either needs to be specialised or running on a low speed. Why, you may ask? 5

Chickpeas are quite sensitive and if treated too harshly they can crack and become useless for the farmer. Also, the timing of seeding and harvesting needs to be just right. They are seeded in spring when the grounds are warmer or, in parts of the world with heavy rain, after the rains have lessened. 1,5 Chickpeas are also not too fond of frost and low degrees can do significant damage during their ripening and pod filling stage. 5 So, the harvest needs to be timed perfectly to achieve the highest harvest yield. 

Being the sensitive legumes they are, their storage needs to be quite particular to fit their sensitivity needs.

Storage facilities must be kept dry and maintained at a certain humidity level. Ideally, they should be kept at 14%, but the humidity must be dropped or raised in a gradual process. If they go below 13%, chickpeas will become fragile. Their quality is also linked to the environment they are kept in. Ideally, they would be kept at a low(ish) temperature and to aerate them properly. 5   

Drying, canning and hummus?

At grocery stores, we can find chickpeas in different forms. They come either dried, canned or as falafel and hummus (the latter being my personal favourite).

Do you like hummus and have you ever made hummus yourself? Let us know below!

And no matter how you process the canned or dried chickpeas, always remember to rinse them properly otherwise they can produce quite a sum of gas in your gut (what a bummer, I know!). Once rinsed, you can use them to your heart's content. 

A big nutritional bonus is that chickpeas are also full of folate, fibre and proteins. 4

Two types of chickpeas

There are two groups of chickpeas that are cultivated across the globe. There is the Kabuli group and Desi group. One of the main differences is their appearance, the Desi type being darker and smaller and the Kabuli being bigger and lighter in colour. Comparing nutrition values, the Kabuli type has less fibre than Desi.6

Bonus Fact

The chickpeas’ pods produce an oxalic and malic acids that prevent insects from eating them. 3 These acids are also used as ingredients for medicines in India. Some examples are medicine for cholera, constipation, warts, bronchitis and as aphrodisiacs. 1

 

References

  1. Muelbauer F.J. and Tullu A. (1997) Cicer arietinum L. Purdue University Accessed 9th December 2018
  2. Antonio M. De Ron (2015) “Grain Legumes” Chapter 3 pp. 85-109
  3. McKay K., Miller P., Riesselman J., Neill K., Buschena D. and Bussan A.J (2002) Growing Chickpea in North Dakota NSDU Extension Accessed 9th December 2018
  4. All About Chickpeas UnlockFood.ca Accessed 9th December 2018
  5. Chickpea Harvesting & Storage Alberta Pulse Growers Accessed 9th December 2018
  6. Chickpea (Cicer arietinum) Feedipedia Accessed 9th Decembe 2018