Hummus: Store Bought vs Home Made
Like some crunch?
Put a few cooked chick peas to one side at the start of the process, Roughly chop these and add to the finished paste to give texture. You can now have your hummus like you have your peanut butter: smooth or crunchy.
When I break for lunch, one of my favourite meals is a hummus wrap, packed with salad and drizzled with chilli sauce. It’s tasty, filling, nutritious and sometimes rather messy, but overall, very satisfying.
These days, hummus is widely available in supermarkets, but not so long ago it was quite difficult to find outside of specialist shops. During those days of scant availability, I attended a party one night, where the hosts had made a bucketful of hummus. I tried it and I loved it, so I got the recipe and learned how to make my own. As I was flat-sharing at the time, this cheap and tasty food soon became a big hit in our household.
As hummus became more widely available, there was a decline in the need for me to make my own, and finally I put away my hand blender to gather dust in a cupboard. For years now I have been quite satisfied with store bought hummus, including reduced fat, lemon and coriander, and jalapeno varieties.
On a recent trip to the supermarket, I spotted a jar of tahini in the ‘things people rarely buy’ section, and memories were rekindled; I hatched the idea to make my first batch of hummus in years. I dropped a jar of tahini into my basket, and then dashed around the aisles in search of the other members of the hummus quartet: chick peas, lemon and garlic. It was time to test my home made hummus against store bought.
Back home, I retrieved my dusty hand blender from the depths of the kitchen cupboard. It felt familiarly tactile, and I handled it with as much respect as Hattori Hanzo handled his sword in Kill Bill. I put the ingredients together, and whizzed up a batch of hummus to pit against the supermarket version that sat in my fridge
First of all, here are some positives from each camp.
It’s there when you need it; there’s no preparation involved. It has nutritional information, including calories and fat, printed on the wrapping, and a reduced fat version is available. It tastes good too.
My Coffee Grinder Calamity
There can’t be many people who have tahini-related tales of woe, but I am on that list.
I fancied making a batch of hummus one night, and I had all the ingredients apart from tahini. I did have a bag of sesame seeds, however, so I set about making my own paste by whizzing the seeds in my coffee grinder. This didn’t work, so I figured the dry mix needed some liquid to help blend the seeds. I was going to add water, but then I had the idea of using sunflower oil.
While I imagined an outcome of perfect tahini, the coffee grinder struggled with the thick sludge of oil and seeds, and after a short while the motor burned out. A lesson was learned. I used tahini and a hand blender after that.
There is something about home made food that makes it more satisfying to eat. Home made hummus can be tweaked to personal taste, and you can cut back on; or even omit, the more fattening ingredients. Home made also tastes good.
To make enough hummus for two people, drain a 400g can of chick peas,* but save the liquid. Place the chick peas into a food processor, or the container for a hand blender. Add a tablespoon of tahini and a pinch of salt.
Tahini may not be as widely available as the other ingredients, although good supermarkets do stock it. This creamy sesame seed paste will add considerably to the fat content of your hummus, so you might choose to use less than a tablespoon, or even omit it altogether. I actually saw a recipe for hummus that suggested usiing peanut butter if tahini was unavailable. I don’t really think this would work.
The amount of garlic you add is down to personal taste, but two large cloves should be enough for a batch this size. That bucketful I mentioned above was extremely garlicky, and I came away thinking that garlic should be the overpowering taste of proper hummus. Of course, since then I have seen the light and I know that the subtle balance of flavours are what make hummus so delicious.
Add the juice of half a lemon, or a whole one if tang is your thang. Blend the mixture, adding some of your saved liquid if the paste is too dry, which it probably will be. The consistency should be thick and creamy. Some recipes suggest adding olive oil at this point for a glossier finish, but I have always found the oil in the tahini to be sufficient, so I skip it.
Transfer the hummus into a bowl, sprinkle a little paprika onto the surface, and chill to allow the flavours to infuse. Once chilled, this versatile paste can be used as a dip or filling, so enjoy with pitta, on crispbread, in wraps or with bread sticks. Dip carrot sticks into reduced fat hummus for a truly healthy snack.
And the Winner Is. . .
One of my favourite ways to enjoy a fresh batch of hummus is to butter and quarter two slices of toast, and then sit watching TV with a mug of coffee and a knife to spread the hummus onto my toast quarters. This is comfort food at its best.
But, getting back to the original purpose of my quest, which is better, store bought or home made?
It’s a close run thing, as the few basic ingredients ensure little variation, but in my opinion, home made wins. While store bought hummus is perfectly adequate, it is pretty much uniform in taste. I prefer my hummus to stray from the beaten path a bit, with perhaps more garlic than usual, or a good kick of lemon.
So I declare home made hummus to be the chick pea champion.
*Or prepare the equivalent in dried chick peas by soaking overnight and then boiling until tender.
Photos are all my own