Homemade hummus is always tricky to make, especially when you expect the exact same quality and texture as the smooth ones in the store. For one thing, industrial blenders are way stronger than anything meant for home use. But what else is missing ?
Why does hummus usually end up bland ? Are there any tips and tricks you could use to make it better ? Actually, there are !
Why is my hummus bland ?
Hummus usually ends up bland because the flavors need to sit overnight, to intensify. Much like a curry, a hummus gets more potent the longer it sits. And thinning it out with water will never yield a flavorful hummus, but using the water from the chickpea can will make a whole lot of difference.
Please keep in mind that hummus is flavorful in its own way, but if you’re a Westerner used to strong flavors, then plain hummus will disappoint. In the West we’re used to more salt, more sugar, more spices. Hummus comes with a very different flavor palette that you will have to get used to, or add spices to until you find a version you like.
Read also: Tahini VS Hummus
Actually, hummus is really easy to make if you have the patience to wait around for it. We’ve compiled a few tips and ideas you can use to make your hummus delicious, so here they are.
1. Don’t thin it out with water, use aquafaba
IF you’re into smooth hummus, then you know you have to add a certain amount of liquid to get the blades unstuck. And if you’d like it very smooth and a little thinner, then you definitely need to add more liquid.
Your first reaction would probably be ‘okay, I’ll just add a cup of water’. But no, let the water sit. Instead, use the water that comes with the garbanzo beans (or chickpeas). That water is a little thicker, but it also tastes like chickpeas, at ;east compared to plain water.
And since it’s a little thicker it makes it easier to achieve a creamy hummus.
2. Let the hummus sit overnight
So let’s say you always get the texture right, but the problem is the flavor. You add chickpeas, olive oil, lemons, garlic, maybe some paprika, salt, and there’s something…mmm, maybe more tahini ? Nope, not even that helps.
All flavors intensify over time. When you make a batch of hummus, let is rest in the fridge for 24 hours or at least overnight. This will give the flavors more time to blend together and really make a show later on.
The amount of garlic you add in the beginning might seem small, but give it a couple of days and it will definitely shine through. Remember that lemon or vinegar will make salt and spice pop, so go easy on those.
3. Don’t be afraid to change up the spices
Here’s the thing, hummus has a list of traditional ingredients and spices, but you’re free to add whatever you think would work great. So if adding ground cumin is your thing then go right ahead.
Smoked or hot paprika are also nice options, as are roast peppers, roast lemon (yesss), a bit of onion, scallions, roast tomatoes, fresh basil or oregano, rosemary, anything you like.
Make that hummus batch yours, add whatever spices you think you, your family and your friends would like. You can even make a bland base and then split that into several servings. And you can flavor each of them as you see fit, and you can even gift it like that !
Who wouldn’t love a big batch of hummus to fill their belly up ?
Personally we’re fond of adding extra garlic, lemon juice, chili powder. Sometimes we leave it bland and have arugula on top, and sometimes we go the extra mile: we keep it simple, but drizzle on some truffle oil.
4. Work with larger loads, make a big batch
This might sound wasteful, but hear us out. You’re likely making hummus in a food processor or blender. These machines are meant for use with larger batches, like 4-8 servings of an item.
So making hummus for just a couple of people with one can of chickpeas might turn out grainy. But following the exact recipe with more ingredients, like 3-4 cans can really make a difference.
We’re not sure how or why it works, but we’re guessing it has to do with the way the compartment is built. It can handle a larger load better than a very small one, so a big batch of hummus is easier to make than a small one.
Try it out, and remember to only add as much chickpea water as you need. Don’t drain it into the sink, reserve it for later and add as needed.
5. Heat up your ingredients first, especially the spices
This has more to do with spices that activate with heat, such as paprika, cumin, most herbs, curry, and so on. The thing is, you don’t have to boil or fry these, simply heat them a little in a pan.
In fact, if you simmer the entire hummus mixture (sans lemon and garlic) in a pot before adding to a blender it might even get a chance to get all the flavors knit faster.
You need to add the garlic and lemon juice in the blender first, to keep them cool. Otherwise they lose their punch. Blitz them once, then add the warm ingredients directly on top, and let the processor run for a few minutes. Be sure to scrape the sides and blend some more.
6. Let hummus come to room temp
Alright, so you’ve done all of the steps above and the hummus is now happily sitting in your fridge. It’s the next morning and you’re dying to know what it’s like after all this effort.
Well, here’s the thing. Hummus tastes much better at room temperature than very cold, from the fridge. This means you should portion it into several smaller containers, and take one out about half an hour before you want to eat.
Of course, you can eat the hummus as-is, straight from the fridge. It’s just gonna taste better if you let it warm up a little. Please don’t microwave it.
Why is my hummus grainy ?
Okay, what if the chickpeas just absolutely refuse to break down. What if the hummus is so very grainy, and you love a smooth hummus ? Chickpea skins tend to hold onto larger chunks of chickpea. Peel them before adding to the blender, this way there’s less of a chance of it staying grainy.
It could also be the case that your blender or food processor simply needs to run for a few more minutes. Make sure it has enough liquid that the blades won’t get stuck and it won’t overheat.
If you’re finding that chickpea skins are way harder to peel than you first thought, try roasting them first. This will dry out the skins on the outside, and they should be easier to peel.
You can lightly simmer the chickpeas again, just to make sure they’re soft enough to break down.
Why is my hummus bitter ?
Olive oil and tahini can have a serious bitter note, go easy on them if you think the hummus is routinely bitter. Olive oil is a little bitter when made from very young olives, which have more tannins than older ones.
There’s also the fact that olives have oleuropein, a compound that makes up a good portion of the olive’s total weight (something like 10-14%). So a bit of that will end up in the olive oil as well.
Then there’s tahini. Depending on the quality of your tahini, it could be more or less bitter. Sesame is a little bitter by itself, especially towards the end. A good tahini should be nutty, vaguely sweet, with a bitter note at the end.
If it’s too bitter the sesame might’ve been toasted for too long, or maybe you simply don’t get along with this kind of flavor. That’s okay, just use less tahini in your hummus. You can even skip it altogether if you really don’t like the way it tastes.
Read Also: Mayonnaise Substitute
What if I don’t have tahini ?
If you don’t have any tahini, or you don’t like tahini, there are a few options you can use. All of them are nut or seed butter, such as organic peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, or sunflower paste.
These will all add a nice, nutty flavor to the hummus, which the chickpeas don’t really have. The upside is these won’t have as much of a bitter flavor as tahini.
If you’d still like the sesame flavor, just add actual toasted sesame or drizzle some sesame oil on top.