After Sabra announced its voluntary recall of listeria-contaminated cases of hummus, I immediately stopped buying hummus from the store. It was probably a rash decision, but it's one that I’m sure I shared with many others. Over the last month I’ve gradually gotten over my hummus fear, but will probably never want to buy hummus from a national brand again. Instead, I’ve been making it at home. But there are times when it is simply easier to grab a container from the grocery store, whether for a quick snack or an easy party appetizer. For those instances I’ve begun looking towards local options. Plus, trying out a range of hummus products has helped me hone in on the qualities I like in my own recipes.
The Bay Area has several of its own hummus makers, and their products span an array of styles, flavors and textures. Some are far more successful than others. The results, from best to worst, below:
I was ready to love Yamba as soon as I opened the lid. While the color and wan-looking spices weren’t exactly enticing, the aroma was undeniable. The smell of garlic, cumin and paprika immediately hit my nose, making me eager to dive in.
Yamba is an Israeli-style hummus, which means it is thinner and more drizzle-able than thicker, health-food hummus. It typically contains more tahini and olive oil (never a bad thing) than other varieties. Yamba has both of these ingredients in spades, and it tastes decadent and creamy. A strong dose of lemon juice balances out the richness. If anything, Yamba is on the salty side; it doesn’t quite veer into the over-seasoned side, but it comes close. I found myself wanting it drizzled over a warm piece of fresh pita bread or a platter of falafel.
Yousef’s hummus is the most plain of the bunch. It comes in a stark, hand-packed container, and it looks the most homemade. Yousef’s also has a short and simple ingredient list -- there’s not much more than chickpeas tahini, garlic and olive oil in it. Despite this short list, Yousef’s has the best texture and appearance. It is smooth and creamy, with a spreadable consistency. You could use it as a sandwich spread or as a dip for even the slipperiest of vegetables (I’m looking at you, baby carrots).