Buy It vs. Make It: Hummus
When my oldest daughter was tiny, I had a terrific friend across the street, Anat, with a kid the same age. She’d ask us over in the afternoon, and we’d sit and watch our babies gnaw on each other’s faces. Anat was Israeli, so when the cinematic tour de force known as You Don’t Mess with the Zohan came out, we went to see it together. Though I, with my guilty-pleasure love of Adam Sandler, adored it, she only asked why his accent was so … French.
The first time we hung out after that, she brought her usual array of Middle Eastern snacks to the table and said, “And now I am a terrible stereotype, because here I am, offering you hummus.” You have to understand, in Zohan, they use hummus for everything, including ammunition. Maybe you had to be there. Or sleep-deprived. Or dumb. It was hilarious, people.
Anyway, hummus: It’s the perfect dip. It’s got protein; it’s heart-healthy; and chickpeas cross all cultural lines, whether you call them ceci beans, garbanzos, or “those things that look like butts.” There’s always hummus in my house, in various flavors, served with carrots or celery or pita bread or fingers. Which means I spend a decent amount on it. Should I be making it myself? I set out to find out.
I did the down-and-dirty easy method of buying cans of chickpeas and grinding them with some tahini, as this recipe told me to do. The result? Something about ten times tastier than the stuff I get at the store. Seriously. Even better than the stuff at the farmer’s market. Here’s how it broke down:
I get the most expensive organic garbanzos you can buy, at $1.19 per can (sometimes more). I know that’s nuts, but it’s how I roll. The tahini is also pricey, about $7 for a 16-ounce jar of the organic stuff. But you only need ¼ cup, so that’s what, 75 cents? The rest is spices, lemon juice, and salt, so the whole thing comes out to under $2 for a bowl big enough for a party platter of crudités. That’s a savings of about $1 compared to the supermarket stuff, and $3 compared to the farmer’s market stuff. If you only eat hummus on special occasions, cost itself is not enough of a pull.
However, I will add this: If you make dried chickpeas in the slow cooker (about 75 cents a pound, so 38 cents for a pound of cooked chickpeas) and make your own tahini (also not hard — just toasting sesame seeds and running them through the same food processor with olive oil, though I’ll admit, I haven’t done this myself), you’ll bring the cost down even more: a dollar a batch using dried beans; below 50 cents a batch if you make the tahini.
Negligible. Seriously. Even if I didn’t have a food processor, I could have made this with a potato-masher or a fork in the blink of an eye. As it was, it took less than ten minutes, though it’s annoying to have to wash the food processor for such a small menu item.
Hold on to your hats: It’s sensational. It’s so much better than the store-bought stuff. I don’t know if it’s the consistency or the freshness, or just — I have no idea what makes it so darn tasty, but I almost fell off my chair when I tasted my homemade version. I added a packet of za’atar seasoning that I happened to have from, like, three years ago when I thought I was going to make za’atar bread (ha!), but you can add whatever you like to make it truly your own (extra garlic, salt, fresh herbs, roasted pepper).
For this recipe, the taste alone tips the scale in favor of making it yourself. The homemade version is so superior, it tastes like something that cost much more than the most expensive hummus money can buy.
Verdict: Make it!
Should you buy it or make it? See what Amy has to say: