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Making Hummus for the First Time

Hi -- I want to start making my own hummus. I'm not sure if it's a national brand, but the flavor I'm trying to reproduce is Sabra brand. (I have kids and they like hummus if it's mild and balanced.) I have a couple of questions. First: what type of olive oil would work best? I'm actually about to buy some more, so it's a good time to try something new. My local butcher has a whole variety available in bulk. Second: how much better is it to start with dried chick peas compared with canned? I'm planning on adding cumin & lemon juice as well -- is there anything else you'd recommend? (Again, I'm not looking for spiciness.) Thanks!

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  1. Traditional hummus,to my understanding,doesn't call for olive oil.It's usually drizzled on after.Lemon juice,fresh garlic,tahini paste,cumin S&P and some of the liquid from the chickpeas.I also add a drop or two of Tabasco to the mix.Try emulsifying the lemon juice and tahini before you add the other ingredients.Dried chickpeas yield a better product but they take a long time to cook so for convenience , canned is fine.

    1. I've been on a three batch a week hummus kick or three months now. Most days I stay traditional...beans, Tahini, garlic, lemon, parsley, a dash of cayenne, and olive oil. Other additions could be roasted red peppers, jalapeno, habanero, chipotle, lime, cilantro, olive, Basil, sun-dried tomato, capers, feta, smoked salmon and dill...use your imagination. As for olive oil...I prefer to use a light oil so it doesn't overpower.
      And to me, nothing wrong with opening up a can, though fresh would be cheaper in the long run.

      1. Hummus can be easy or a project:
        My preference for taste and health are:
        I use dried beans. I pressure cook them. Cook a little more and freeze; they freeze wonderfully.
        If I do use a little olive oil, and it's always extra-virgin olive oil.
        Or I might use yogurt instead of the olive oil.
        I use fresh lemon juice.
        Since Ilike the taste of turmeric, I usually add a little.
        I toast sesame seeds to make my own tahini. (Recipes abound)

        1. I think the only necessary ingredients are chickpeas, tahini, lemon, and salt. Balance those out to your tastes, and work from there on additional seasonings. Typically, olive oil is added on top of the hummus in the serving dish (e.g., in a recess spooned out of the top).

          Why not do a canned versus whole chickpea taste test and report back? If you have a food processor, it's easy to do such an experiment.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sushigirlie

            Great idea to do the comparison, will do. (And I completely blanked on the tahini, even though I just bought some!). So long as you don't mind a 2 and 6 year old sitting in on the tasting panel!

          2. Sabra Classic Hummus is pretty straightforward, with less tahini, more chickpea, a hint of lemon, garlic and salt. You're right in your assesment of that brand's classic hummus, it is mild and balanced. Soybean/canola oil, citric acid and some proprietary seasonings are used in their formula; obviously you can do your own version with fresh lemon juice. Start with less tahini and add in until you get a taste you prefer. Sabra has a number of flavored varieties as well, pine nut, spinach, sun dried tomato, extra tahini, roasted garlic, herbs, spicy; just shows you the versatility of hummus.

            Drizzle the olive oil on after for a garnish. I do add a little to the hummus occasionally when I puree it, in addition to the chickpea cooking liquid, but it's used more for garnish. Cumin is a nice flavor addition, as well as other other flavorings posters have mentioned. I sometimes add half a chopped onion in the food processor with the chickpeas while pureeing, along with the garlic.

            As for canned vs dried, I use both, prefer dried for flavor and a lower price, but don't always want to wait a few hours for the dried chickpeas to cook; the rinsed canned chickpeas make it very quick. Sabra most likely commercially strains their hummus; their product tends to be smoother than I can make at home, unless I pass it through a chinois after pureeing, but a bit coarser texture just says homemade to me.

            1. If you want to re-create hummus, it's best to use dried beans and skin them after cooking. Pureeing that with a very light tasting olive oil along with your preferred balance of tahini, garlic, lemon juice and salt will give you Sabra's smooth texture.

              1. i really think a few things make a difference in creating flavorful versus watery and bland. aside from the basics of chick peas, lemon, salt and cumin, i use toasted tahini versus raw tahini and a clove of garlic. you don't really need too much garlic just a small clove goes a long way. it's so easy and inexpensive to make.

                1. I've been on a huge hummus kick right now since I got an immersion blender for Christmas (it makes the most smooth and creamy hummus ever). Hummus is great because after adding the basics (chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, S&P), you can really add anything you want. If your kids like edamame, throw some of that in there! If they like cilantro, add some!

                  The ones I've been making a lot recently are curry hummus and a cream cheese and chili garlic hummus. Just delicious!

                  1. One other tip - if you like the creaminess of Sabra, I recommend reserving the liquid from the chick peas (if you buy canned, which is what I always use). Use the liquid to thin out the hummus to get it to that creamy consistency your kids like. You will never buy again - homemade is so much better. I recently roasted some sweet potatoes and threw those in as well - delicious!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: mawnyc521

                      Yes! I discovered from a friend years ago that the secret to creamy and fluffy hummus was adding water - either from the can or water left after cooking the chickpeas.

                      1. re: mawnyc521

                        Definitely agree with using the canned chickpea liquid. It really makes for a smoother hummus.

                        I've also found that letting the food processor just go for about 5-6 minutes makes for a smoother almost "whipped" hummus.. rather than pulsing the chickpeas and other ingredients.

                      2. I've been making regular batches of hummus for 10+years, and my technique has improved through the years.

                        Ingredients: dried chickpeas, a good tahini that is well mixed, olive oil (you don't need to go nuts over its quality), lemon juice, garlic, cumin, a dash of ground red pepper, and salt.

                        Method - in a food processor, process a couple cloves of garlic with the salt until its a paste. If you have a mortar and pestle, all the better. Then mix lemon juice and tahini in a separate bowl. add chickpeas to the food processor, hit it until it's a paste. Add tahini/lemon juice mix, add some cumin, a couple dashes of ground red pepper add a bunch of salt. Drizzle in olive oil until it's the consistency you want. Sometimes I'll add a little of the chickpea cooking liquid to thin it a bit.

                        While I really like hummus, for my tastes the straightforward chickpea/tahihi/lemon juice/garlic can be a bit bland. Salt really livens it up. I also add more tahini than many recipes call for. Lastly, adding a few dashes of cumin and gr red pepper can really perk it up - the key is to add enough that it brightens the flavors, but not so much that anyone would be able to tell that there's cumin or red pepper in it.

                        In many ways, hummus is an ideal recipe because there are very wide bounds to experiment within. It's hard to screw it up, and you can really try varying amounts of tahini, garlic, lemon juice, dry spices, etc., to really suit you wants. One note - it's best after it sits for about a day. I season it until it just starts to taste the way I'd like it to, knowing that after a night in the fridge it'll be a bit brighter and bolder.

                        I also occasionally make a roasted red pepper version, and a sun dried tomato version. Both work well for parties or potlucks, but I prefer the regular version.

                        1. I've followed the Cook's Illustrated recipe with great success. They recommend stirring the olive oil and tahini together seperately and then drizzling it into the feed tube of your food processor as it's running after everything else has been mixed. It makes a very creamy and smooth hummus.

                          I also like to add some toasted sesame seeds. I find tahini (or at least the tahini I've bought) to be bland. I've also started using plain "natural" peanut butter in place of the tahini and can't tell the difference.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: AbbyWis

                            I make an emulsion with the tahini, lemon juice and garlic and whirl that at the onset before adding the chickpeas and liquid

                          2. Roasted garlic is lovely in hummus.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: EM23

                              as is a roasted red bell pepper.

                            2. FWIW, I used to use canned garbanzos, but really thought things improved when I switched to fresh (dried). But you should plan on cooking them for a loooonnng time--I've never really overcooked them. You can also make it with other beans, like cannellini beans. A lot of my friends actually prefer it to the garbanzo/chickpea version when they've tried it.

                              1. As several posters have noted, hummus is a versatile product which takes kindly to improvising. Techniques and methods eveolve over time. In all the years that I've been making hummus, my standard was: garbanzo beans, SPTT, tahini, lemon, parsley, green onions, garlic and olive oil. Last week, my vegetable bin was pretty bare - no parsley, no garlic and no scallions. I made hummus with lemon juice, garbanzo beans, tahini, SPTT, olive oil and some water. It was fantastic! Different from usual but delicious. The added water made the texture quite silky as did the much longer processing time. I mixed the ingredients for at least five minutes, maybe more, instead of my usual 2-3. I liked the texture and will repeat this in the future - with and without the additional ingredients.

                                I usually cook 1 pound of garbanzo beans in the crock pot when I'm cooking beans. If that didn't happen, I'll use well-rinsed canned beans (I find the "bean goo" to be salty and oddly-flavored) plus some water.

                                Congratulations to you for opening the door to your children for this healthy snack. I am crabby and tired of hearing parents lament that their young children want only some processed food they've seen on TV. Maybe if those children were involved in a *hummus tasting panel*, like your 2 and 6 year olds, they would have more interest in real food and not be so picky. Hats off to you, jessinEC.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Sherri

                                  Thank you so much! I am really looking forward to testing these ideas! Stay tuned for the results.

                                2. Here's my hummus recipe:


                                  * 1 can garbanzo beans (drained)
                                  * 2 large cloves garlic, peeled
                                  * 1/3 cup tahini
                                  * juice of 1/2 lemon
                                  * 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more to garnish
                                  * little bit of warm water
                                  * kosher salt
                                  * optional garnishes: fresh parsley, paprika, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, etc.


                                  Add to food processor garbanzo beans, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, water, and kosher salt. Process all ingredients. Adjust olive oil to taste. Put in serving bowl and sprinkle extra extra olive oil on top if you wish. Optional: Add garnishes if desired.

                                  1. Thanks, everyone, again for your suggestions. I found Mark Bittman's recipe via epicurious and used it as a starting point. For this first time, I used canned beans -- Eden brand. I used the liquid in the can to smooth it out, and it really worked. Kids loved it. I'm going to try again with dried chickpeas. When I cook them (after soaking overnight, I assume), what should I add to the water? Onions, carrots, celery???? And is it true you can freeze cooked chickpeas? But they would only be good for more hummus at that point, not eating in a salad, right? Thanks again.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: jessinEC

                                      When I cook chickpeas, I usually cook them only with water. (I always use the pressure cooker; however that is never necessary.) I have cooked them many times pre-pressure cooker. I never add anything to the water - no salt. I make enough for two more quart jars to freeze in Ball jars. I label them that there is nothing added, in case I have some others that I've put away that do have spices or veggies to the liquid.

                                      In making hummus, my suggestion is to cook and use all the chickpeas you wish to make as a hummus, then freeze the hummus. Hummus freezes well. Pull it out of the freezer the night before you want to eat it the next day.

                                      1. re: jessinEC

                                        Do not add anything to chickpea cooking liquid if you plan to use the beans for hummus. Freezing does not alter the texture of the beans, so they would be great in salads. (This goes for all dried beans; I always cook and freeze extra.) Also, chickpeas soaked overnight take only about 30 minutes to cook.

                                      2. definitely make some fresh chickpeas if you have the time; i make mine in the crock pot; use lots of fresh garlic and you won't even need to add pepper flakes; the raw garlic is spicy enough; xtra virg olive oil is best (i use the Costco one)

                                        1. I too prefer to use dried versus canned for better flavour. Rinsing canned chickpeas well does help, though. As is traditional in some Middle Eastern countries I like to add sumac to my hummus.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: chefathome

                                            I would like to add sumac - can you give me some advise as to amount of sumac for 4 cups cooked chickpeas?
                                            Is sumac generally found just in dried form?

                                            1. re: Rella

                                              So far I have only seen it dried (powdered). I would probably start with a scant 1 tsp sumac for four cups of chickpeas then add more if you like it. Sumac is underutilized in my opinion and is great for lots of yummy thing such as rubs for roast chicken.

                                              1. re: chefathome

                                                I'm glad you replied, because I recall buying it and using it once several years ago on a middle eastern bread; it was green flakes form, such as parsley, etc. Perhaps I'm thinking of zatar?
                                                But I will try the dried powdered sumac, which is reddish?, right?

                                                1. re: Rella

                                                  Yes, sumac is reddish - almost burgundy and has a tart lemon taste that is so delicious. The green flakes could well have zatar as it is a blend that includes dried herbs such as thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and likely salt and is often used on flatbreads. I am a Middle East spice fanatic!

                                                  1. re: chefathome

                                                    I like middle eastern spices, too. Thanks for your help.