Fermented Chickpea Hummus – My Battle with Lectins

I’m working on a recipe for fermented chickpea hummus. Ideally, I’d like to use raw chickpeas.  Raw foods rule!  Right?  Or do they?  Like other beans, raw chickpeas contain large amounts of lectin. Lectin is a protein that plants produce as a defense mechanism. When animals eat foods that contain a lot of lectins, they learn not to be so foolish in the future. Lectins cause the beans to be indigestible. Consuming legumes and grains in their raw form can even result in nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Researchers speculate that many apparent cases of bacterial food poisoning may actually be lectin poisoning.

But, there’s good news!  Lectins can be considerably reduced by soaking and cooking, usually boiling. Sound familiar? Yup, just like every other bean recipe: a long soak and then boil the daylights out of them.  I think that until I figure out a sure-fire method, I’m going to follow a long history of bean cooks and boil first, and then ferment the cooked beans.  Here’s the recipe:

Fermented Chickpea Hummus

Author: John MacDowall


  • 3 cups garbanzo or white beans cooked and drained
  • cup lemon juice
  • cup tahini sesame paste
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ cup whey or other starter liquid
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • tsp. paprika


  • Place drained beans in a food processor. Add all ingredients and blend until smooth. The mixture will be thick.
  • Scrape mixture into two wide-mouth pint jars and cap loosely. Ferment at room temperature for 3 days. Move to the refrigerator and use within a month.

If you’re in a hurry, you can just give in and cook them. There are all sorts of methods for cooking dried beans. The worst method is to just dump the dry beans in a pot and boil. The coats on these little guys needs softening before the beans will rehydrate and cook properly. I’ve compiled some different ways to accomplish this. First, start with a large pot. If you need 3 cups of chickpeas for your recipe, measure out 1 cup of dried beans. Add to that 3 cups of water. Now, depending on what else you’re doing choose one of the below methods:

Method 1: Long soak (10 hours) and simmer (2 hours)
Method 2: Boil (5 minutes), soak (1 hour), and simmer (2 hours)
Method 3: In the Slow Cooker, 4 hours on high heat or 8 hours on low heat
Method 4: Instant Pot, 40 minutes
“Method 5”: Sprout! Soak overnight and then rinse and drain twice a day

Yes, the other lectin remedy is sprouting! Beans give up their lectin when they switch modes form self-preservation to reproduction. They become very vulnerable–just like us! Chickpeas can be sprouted like any other seed. Give them an overnight soak and then rinse them twice a day and leave them to drain. After a couple of days, they’ll be growing the cutest of little roots. That’s how you’ll know they’re ready for hummus.

Masontops Bean Screen in use

Masontops just sent me some sample “Bean Screens”.  They’re pretty awesome!  The little divot to fill actually is a brilliant idea!  The water goes right in.

Masontops Bean Screen

and out!


The bean screen even has a built-in drainer.  Just leave the jar completely inverted and the little tabs keep the jar up out of the water.   The most important thing in sprouting is rinsing and rinsing often!  Bean Screens make it easy!  Get some today!

PS  Interestingly enough, I found a study that says that not all lectins are created equally.  According to

Elvira González De Mejía & Valentin I. Prisecaru (2007) Lectins as Bioactive Plant Proteins: A Potential in Cancer Treatment, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 45:6, 425-445, DOI: 10.1080/10408390591034445

“many lectins are non-toxic, such as those from tomatoes, lentils, peas, chickpeas, faba beans, and other common foods.”

No wonder my hummus wasn’t making me sick…

About John MacDowall

I was born in Poughkeepsie, NY. We moved to a farm during middle school where I learned about raising animals and growing food. Now, I live in the affluent suburbs of Washington, DC and wonder why people eat the way they do.


  1. The Widow Flanagan

    Please find America’s Test Kitchen’s method of brining beans overnight. It goes against all we know, and that makes it cool. I’ve been brining my beans before cooking since they first published the method. The skins don’t split, the insides creamy, the juicy factor huge! Do try, John. Then ferment?

  2. louisa cranmore

    So I just made some sprouted houmous and accidentally fermented it! I think by travelling with it on a warm day. It just has that certain delicious tanginess that lets me know it’s definitely fermented. And boy is it delicious. Very similar to sunflower cheeses I’ve made before by adding probiotic capsule powder to blended soaked sunflower seeds.

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