How is Hummus Made? A Closer Look at the Commercial Production of Hummus

Hummus is among the staple foods in the Middle Eastern region. Over time, this delicacy has been adopted worldwide due to its nutritional value. As such, you can find processed hummus in your local retail outlets. Hummus is not one of those secret recipes. In this article, you will learn how hummus is made, particularly on a large scale for retail.

What is Hummus?

Hummus is human food that falls in the category of purée. Essentially, purée is food that has been processed by blending into a thick creamy substance of uniform texture and consistency. This means processing hummus requires some skill. However, making homemade hummus can be quite straightforward if you have the right equipment and ingredients.

Traditionally, hummus was made as a spread that was used to eat bread and other wheat-based foods. Currently, the consumption of this type of food has become quite diverse. It can be used as a dip, sauce, chip dip, and so on. It all depends on the consumer.

While we will focus on the commercial production of hummus, we also understand that hummus can be made at home. There are several homemade hummus recipes online that you can follow and make hummus. Similarly, different hummus processing plants use different recipes. This helps create different flavors and tastes.

Ingredients Needed to Make Hummus

One thing to keep in mind is that hummus is a dish that can have varying recipes. This means that the ingredients will also vary. However, most people follow the traditional recipe of hummus. They can slightly tweak this recipe by adding new ingredients or skipping the known ones. 

Traditionally, the main ingredients of hummus were tahini, chickpeas, and lemon juice. Modern hummus now contains garlic and olive oil. Let us learn more about these ingredients.

Cooked Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) 

This is the main ingredient in hummus. It is a legume that is rich in proteins and fiber. When you first taste hummus, the flavor mostly comes from these legumes.

Chickpeas grow in cool seasons and they take about 100 days to mature. They are harvested when dry for preparation of the hummus. As you will see in the preparation process, they take quite some time before they are converted to hummus.

Tahini

This is a condiment made from toasted sesame seeds. In the preparation of hummus, these seeds are ground into a creamy substance that is then added to the chickpeas. For homemade hummus, tahini can be made using a blender. Some hummus recipes add oil and salt to the hulled sesame to add flavor to it.

Acid from lemon juice

Lemon is considered among the original ingredients of hummus. Its juice contains acids that add flavor, acidity, and tang to the puree. Besides, the specific acid, that is citric acid, is a natural preservative. This explains the long shelf life of hummus.

Extra additives like garlic and olive oil

In modern hummus recipes, you will find garlic and olive oils added to the puree. The two are known to be quite nutritional. Also, garlic and olive oil have antioxidant properties that help improve your gut health. 

Some recipes that include olive oil exclude tahini. In other words, olive oil is used as an alternative for tahini. It changes the flavor of the hummus.

What is Used to Make Commercial Hummus

There are various types of equipment used to make hummus in commercial production. Let us discuss some of them.

Soaking pots

As you will learn in the process of making hummus, chickpeas need to be soaked for a certain period before they are cooked. As such, it only makes sense to have dedicated pots where you can soak these legumes. 

Cookers

The cooker is only needed for cooking the legumes. Also, we will explore this in the process of making hummus. They can be all kinds of cookers, however, the best kind is the pressure cookers. This is because pressure cookers can cut down the cooking time significantly. This means that the production time will also be reduced.

Industrial blenders and grinders 

These types of equipment are needed for breaking down the cooked chickpeas to make a paste. After blending the chickpeas into a paste, the same blenders and grinders are then used to mix all the other ingredients to make the hummus.

Post-processing equipment 

Processed hummus undergoes post-processing steps that aid in the preservation of the nutritional value of the product. For this process, examples of equipment used include pasteurizers which are used for removing bacteria that could lead to spoilage. 

Packaging equipment 

Lastly, processed hummus needs to be packed properly for retail. As a food substance, the FDA has regulations on the type of equipment that is supposed to be used to package hummus. This includes the packets, the packaging environment, and labeling on the packaging. All these standards need to be followed for the safety of the consumer.

Process of How Hummus is Made Commercially

Let us learn about the process of making hummus for retail. 

Step 1: Preparing the chickpeas

The preparation of the chickpeas is the first step in making hummus. Essentially, this preparation involves soaking the legumes in water for at least 12 hours. Soaking is done to ensure that the chickpeas swell after they absorb water.

When swollen or water-logged, the chickpeas take less time to cook. That is because they need to be cooked before they are ground into a paste. Another reason for soaking them is to make them more digestible. Lastly, soaking ensures that they are evenly cooked. 

Step 2: Washing the chickpeas

This step is optional for the commercial process of making hummus. On the contrary, homemade hummus recipes suggest washing the chickpeas, especially if they are store-bought. Washing them removes the substances that are used for preservation. All the same, you can wash the cooked chickpeas.

Step 3: Grinding chickpeas to make a thick paste 

Grinding the chickpeas is the most crucial step in this process. After all, chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus. This is done using heavy-duty industrial blenders and grinders. This step needs to have control checks to ensure that the consistency of the paste is maintained. 

Step 4: Adding other ingredients 

In this step, tahini, garlic, and olive oil are added to the ground chickpea paste. These ingredients add flavor and taste to hummus. Tahini is the mandatory ingredient here while the others are optional depending on the recipe.

Step 5: Mixing and blending to form a homogeneous mix

In some cases, the grinder that was used in step 3 to blend the cooked chickpeas is the same one used for the mixing processes. This is because mixing requires some level of agitation that these industrial blenders can provide.

This step can also take some time since the technicians in charge need to ensure that the mix is uniform in terms of texture, color, and taste. This is what differentiates good and bad hummus, apart from the recipe.

Step 6: Packaging for retail 

At this point, the hummus is ready for retail packaging. If you are involved in the commercial production of hummus, you know that packaging is everything. Failure to follow the guidelines outlined by experts could lead you into trouble and also lead to business losses. Therefore, ensure you are compliant with the regulations of these bodies.

Challenges in the Industrial Production of Hummus

The commercial production of hummus has its share of challenges. Let us discuss some of these challenges. 

Requires preservatives to extend shelf life

Hummus has a shelf-life of at most 7 days when stored in the fridge. This is for homemade that has no preservatives. To extend this shelf-life, manufacturers add preservatives to the product to increase this period. This is a challenge because preservatives have been reported to have negative health implications on humans.

Its time consuming

When you count the time from the preparation to the last step in the process of making hummus, you can tell that it is a time-consuming process. For one, the soaking of chickpeas alone takes up to half a day. Provided that this soaking is mandatory, it is safe to say that it is quite a long process. This is challenging since it can affect the productivity of the producer.

Uses Many Types of Equipment

 

Hummus is one of those types of processed foods that require a whole set of equipment. Although to be fair, this is true for most processed foods. This means that when you are planning to start producing hummus for commercial purposes, you will have to invest a lot in equipment. 

Prone to temperature, microbial, and pH spoilage

Temperature, microbes, and pH are enemies of processed food. They cause spoilage quite fast. As such hummus needs to use special packaging such as press-to-seal plastic bags. Otherwise, the food will go bad even when in the fridge.

Conclusion

Processing hummus is one of the common activities of food-processing companies. As you have seen, the process that it undergoes from chickpeas to thick creamy food is quite fascinating. While new hummus recipes are emerging every day, they could never alter this process. Therefore, we have the people of Middle Eastern regions to thank for this universal method of making hummus.

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