Sea of Chickpeas
There are several varieties of chickpea but at the Strauss factory they use the special Bulgarian chickpea. It's smaller, sweeter, and, when boiled, smoother than other chickpeas.
Feel the chickpeas
You can't help but stick your hands in there...
Tons of chickpeas
Actual tons. When you're the biggest hummus-producer in Israel, you go through chickpeas in units of 2,000 pounds. They actually use 2,000 tons of chickpeas a week. (That would be 4,000,000 pounds of chickpeas.)
Tons of tahini
Again, actual tons. These mondo bags are full of the roasted, ground sesame seed paste that makes the hummus creamier and fattier-tasting. The overall hummus is made up of about 25% tahini here.
Where the dry chickpeas soak for about 10 hours. Once soaked, they're boiled with a sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to speed up the cooking process.
Secret spice chamber
Only a few of the factory workers are allowed into this room where the highly confidential spice blend recipe for the hummus is kept.
For baba ghanoush production, they use eggplants with deep purple coats that are sweet and not at all bitter. "People don't like bitter baba," our tourguide noted. Each eggplant gets individually sorted to make sure it's smooth-skinned and blemish-free.
"Here, try a bite. See how sweet!" (And it was. Who knew raw eggplant could be that sweet.)
This guy's job is to feed the 700-degree F oven with eggplants. It's one of the best spots in the whole factory. That aroma of sweet eggplants roasting in the open flame is amazing.
Once the roasted eggplants come out of the oven, these ladies peel off their skins. And boy, are those hot skins! Hence the gloves.
They handed me an eggplant and put me to work.
Once skinned, the eggplant meat travels down the belt to become baba ghanoush.
Hummus in transit
All sealed and stickered, there go the hummus tubs.
Ready to be shipped
Strauss creates different hummus varieties in different regions of the world. In Mexico, for example, the company sells a chipotle-flavored hummus. In Israel, this one is popular, garnished with a blend of Middle Eastern spices.
He spends his days in the hummus lab developing new flavors.
Test kitchen's spice cabinet
We made our own homemade batch in the test kitchen.
That time I toured a hummus factory
Well that was fun! (Note: they made me wear close-toed shoes, don't worry.)