Made with blending chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil, hummus is a simple and versatile dip beloved by many. To prove their love for hummus, the Lebanese, in 2010, made the largest plate of hummus that weighed over 10 tonnes! To produce hummus industrially, you need a hummus production line that involves cookers, industrial grinders, pasteurizers and packaging equipment.
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Processing the key ingredient: soaking and cooking chickpeas
Hummus’ name in Arabic also reveals the name of its main ingredient: chickpeas. Vibrating trays separate the chickpeas from contaminants like twigs, dirt and other particles and then they are transferred to conveyor belts where they are washed with water. Then it’s time for them to soak into stainless steel vats filled with water. Sometimes, manufacturers add baking soda to the water to loosen the skins. Soaking takes anywhere between 8 to 14 hours.
The chickpeas grow and swell to be twice their original size and become softer. The skins can be removed either manually or with pressurized air. After all this, the chickpeas are cooked. In the hummus production line, manufacturers use cylindrical steam cookers and large pressure cookers to shorten the long cooking process. Cooking makes them even softer and prepares them for blending with other ingredients to create hummus.
Two methods of cooking chickpeas – boiling vs cooking
There are two methods of cooking chickpeas that manufacturers employ. The first method is draining the soaked chickpeas, removing their skins and transferring them onto trays and into an industrial steam cooker. The cooker is preheated at 124°C and the cooking time is around 30 minutes.
The second method involves the stainless steel vats that the chickpeas soak in – the vats for soaking are also repurposed as large cooking pots. The chickpeas are boiled in the vats for three hours during which some of the skins float to the top and are removed. This method is time-conserving as it does not include all the various steps between soaking and cooking. However, because some of the skins remain on the chickpeas, it can result in a lumpy consistency.
Innovations in the hummus production line
Hummus is made of chickpeas, tahini and spices. When the chickpeas are mixed with tahini, the tahini reacts with the water in the chickpeas and forms bacteria if it is not refrigerated immediately or preservatives are not added. Preservatives and stabilizers are therefore essential to extend hummus’s shelf life. However, being chemicals, preservatives and stabilizers alter the true taste of hummus and make it more grainy.
To combat the use of preservatives and offer hummus fans the freshest and tastiest hummus, Alon Kruvi and Rakesh Barmecha patented a make-your-own-hummus kit. The kit consists of three pouches filled with shelf-stable ingredients of hummus – chickpea puree, tahini and spices. Stored within a container in retort pouches, the three ingredients are kept separate to prevent spoiling and require no refrigeration until mixed together.
Low-sodium hummus made easy
Hummus is rich in fiber, healthy fats and vitamin B6 and is often part of low-fat diet plans. It is also a great source of plant-based protein and dietary minerals. On the other hand, hummus has a high sodium content. High sodium intake affects blood pressure and can cause heart problems.
To cut back on the amount of sodium in factory-made hummus, manufacturers choose to cook the chickpeas in water with no added salt and limit the amount of salt in the spice blend to a minimum. Some manufacturers also use unsalted sesame seeds for tahini to further minimize sodium content in their hummus. Low sodium diet improves health, so low sodium hummus is a highly recommended snack due to its many health benefits.