Thursday, March 28, 2013

When Life gives you Garbanzos, make Lemonade?

Though I try not to overuse proverbial phrases too much I couldn’t help it this time. But really – lemonade from garbanzo beans? My first inclination to try tasting a garbanzo bean leaf was brought on from a passage in my trusty Seed to Seed book. Under Cicer arietinum – Garbanzo (Chick Pea) it states “The leaves and stems of the plants are covered with ‘glabular’ (sticky) hairs. The hairs exude malic acid that is widely collected in India and used like vinegar or for medicine. In remote rural villages, Indian women wrap the plants in fabric each evening. The fabric is removed the following morning and the liquid exuded by the plants is wrung out and collected in containers”.

Chickpea leaves exude malic and some oxalic acid -yum!

After my garbanzo beans started flowering I noticed some fine hairs with liquid on them. I decided to be risky and try a taste. I brushed my fingers over them and took a taste off my finger. “That was good!” I thought to myself. It tastes just like lemonade. So now that I have revealed this to my children you can probably guess what they are doing these days. That’s right – brushing their fingers and licking what tastes like lemonade.

Growing Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) is a new experience for me

As is often the case, what is food to one is repulsive to another. The malic and some oxalic acid is actually a deterrent for insects. It acts as a natural insecticide that keeps most caterpillars and aphids from eating the plants. While both these acids occur naturally in vegetables that we eat, malic acid is generally considered good while oxalic acid is generally looked down upon because it can work to deprive the body of calcium and magnesium – though a few people believe that it may help fight cancer. That being said, spinach and rhubarb have plenty of oxalic acid and I haven’t met people condemning these vegetables as “unhealthy”. Crazy as it may seem, what is considered an insecticide in nature can turn out to be pretty tasty. Now the trick is to make sure my children wash their hands before touching the chickpeas.

Try it - Garbanzo bean leaf hairs taste like lemonade!


  1. Hi Jay,
    It's unbelievable what Nature can offer to us!!!

    1. Thanks for the response Giuseppe.
      Yes - I agree with you. Nature has much more to teach us if we are only willing to learn.

  2. How fascinating Jay...I love learning about the properties of much to learn!

  3. Every time I visit here, you have some fascinating new fact that is just that... fascinating! I've never even seen a garbanzo been growing before, although I eaten a lot of them. And lemon? We're lemon freaks here, so that sounds delightful. I've decided I need to come here more often, Jay.

    1. Thank you so much Carolyn!

      My previous hobbies eventually became boring, but gardening provides endless possibilities. Often I will read about a concept in a gardening book about how my garden "should be" only for my garden to show me how things really are. (=


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