Sabra Hummus is Being Made Right In My Backyard

by on October 19, 2012

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of touring of Sabra hummus factory! Sabra has always been my favorite hummus company so needless to say, I was super excited when I found out they were opening a factory in Chesterfield, VA (about 25 minutes outside of Richmond). The factory has been open since 2010 and my dream of visiting finally came true this year. 

Sabra Hummus Tour

As I got out of my car at the factory I was greeted by the smell of cooking chickpeas and garlic – this was a sure sign that I was in hummus heaven! 

 Steel cut oatmeal panera

The day started with Panera for breakfast while two Sabra employees gave an overview of Sabra’s marketing strategy and nutrition. A couple cool facts I learned during this presentation included that Sabra is the #1 national brand of hummus and that the brand started small in 1986 when a Rabbi (Rabbi Yehuda Pearl) started making and selling hummus in New York City. One fact that really surprised me was that many people haven’t tried and/or don’t purchase hummus – if I remember correctly about 75% of households in the US don’t buy hummus! Hummus is one of our weekly staples so I can’t imagine a world without it but apparently quite a few people have never even tried it before.

If you’re reading this blog post and you haven’t tried hummus yet, there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s made of blended chickpeas, sesame paste (also known as tahini), and a variety of herbs and spices. It’s a tasty and healthy snack to have on hand. 

Please do yourself a big favor and run to your local grocery store and grab a container of Sabra. (It will be in the refrigerated section, near the produce). I might be a tad biased but I’m pretty certain your life will be changed! 

Panera granola

Side note – I didn’t know that Panera now sold steel cut oats and granola. Maybe it’s a new thing?!? But let me tell you – both are really good! Definitely have to remember that next time I’m traveling or on the road for breakfast.

Later in the morning, we learned a few food photography tips from the Debra and Rod from Smith Bites

The Smiths

They gave a ton of practical tips for better food photography. Here are a few that I jotted down:

  • Food loves light but usually light only comes into your space on one side. You can use white foam to make a bounce board to help fill in shadows.
  • Use a reflector or diffuser to diffuse the light on a sunny day.
  • Tripods are recommend for food photography – start with a cheap tripod.
  • Using camera tethering can be a great way to learn the settings on your DSLR and enhance photos before snapping the shot. 
  • Use small plates and bowls because food looks better in them for photos. Naturally toned dishes usually work better than busy patterns. Ridges or muted patterns on dishes can add some additional texture to the photo, especially when the food is rather dull.
  • Tell the story of the food with ingredients. Save elements of your recipe’s ingredients for food styling. Put them on top of your food or behind it to add a pop in your photos.
  • Great books for food photography – Plate to Pixel and Focus on Food Photography for Bloggers.

Food photography

Next up, Sabra’s Executive Chef, MaryDawn Wright, shared information about what goes into Sabra’s hummus and how they get the smooth and creamy texture that everyone loves. As executive chef, she gets to taste each batch of Sabra hummus to check for consistency, develops new flavors and works on create recipes. Basically she gets to eat hummus all day. <– I want this job!!

Sabra s head chef

MaryDawn also let us taste a container of Classic hummus that was “right off the line” (only about 15 minutes old) and compare it to another container that was about two weeks old, which is what we normally buy at the store. It tasted very fresh but I think I preferred the “older” one as the flavors were more pronounced. 

When noon rolled around, it was officially tasting time… what we’d all been waiting for! 

Sabra Hummus Table

Obviously this called for two plates. One wasn’t enough for all the different items I needed to taste – hummus, guacamole, salsa, and veggie dips. Oh my!

Hummus tasting

My favorite new Sabra products included:

Asian Fusion Garden Hummus – I love Asian cuisine so naturally I gravitated to this hummus. It’s got a bold ginger and sesame flavor that just works! I’m excited to use it in recipes. My first thought was to put it in fresh spring rolls so I’ll have to try that out asap.

Sabra Asian Fusion

Rosemary, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Hummus – an amazing new seasonal flavor that should be in stores soon! 

Rosemary with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Spanish Eggplant - eggplant, onion and garlic simmered in a tangy tomato sauce. It’s awesome! 

Sabra Eggplant

I was stuffed from all the tastings but I couldn’t resist trying the desserts that MaryDawn had made with the Classic hummus. I loved the Chocolate, Coconut and Caramel Hummus Pastries.  You couldn’t even tell that there was hummus in the recipe. Of course, now I want to try my hand at making some desserts with the Classic hummus. Get excited! 

Hummus desserts

After our bellies were full with hummus, it was time to gear up and get a behind the scenes look at how Sabra hummus is made.

Sabra tour

Unfortunately we were’t able to take cameras into the factory, however don’t you worry, I have this lovely picture of us in our factory touring outfits for your viewing pleasure. 

Sabra Hummus Factory Tour

So hot right now! 

The Sabra factory is the largest hummus factory in the world at 110,000-square-feet! Their factory is one of the only full food processing factories in the United States with Silver LEED certification and Sabra’s packaging is made from 30-45% post consumer recycled plastic. One of the things that really resinated with me was that being eco-friendly is part of Sabra’s basic values. They even had green spoons for us to use when tasting the different hummus flavors. 

To be honest, the whole time we were on the tour I felt like I was Mark Summers on Unwrapped… and it was awesome! We learned about every procedure that goes into making the hummus, saw 2,000 pound bags of dried chickpeas, massive machines, pipes and pumps and then got to watch the hummus being packaged. This was my first time ever getting a behind the scenes look at how food is manufactured and it was such a cool experience. It was awesome to see how clean the factory was and how much energy went into making sure the end result was perfect.

The spice and herb room was definitely my favorite part – not only did it smell amazing but it was really cool to see the huge bags of spices measured out to go into the different hummus flavors. 

Speaking of spices, after the tour Heather of Spice Station did a quick demo of different spices and gave us samples of unique spices to take home. 

 Spice station demo

Things got spicy!

Spice Station

One new-to-me spice that we learned about was Sumac - a ground reddish berry has a pleasant melange of sour, sweet and bitter flavors. Added to yogurt for a dip, dusted on grilled fish or mixed in with rice, sumac will give a fruit and sour flavor similar to lemon. Sprinkle liberally on a bowl of hummus for authentic color and taste. The description doesn’t mention it, but Sumac also tasted really salty to me. It would be perfect for people who like a salty flavor but are watching their sodium intake.

Sumac

My current spice collection is pretty basic so I’m super excited to add some of the new ones I learn about from Heather, including Sumac and Zahtar.

Once the spice presentation was over, our day at the factory was done. I headed home with lots of new ideas about hummus running through my head and a nice garlicky smell on my clothes. I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to tour the Sabra factory and learn more about the brand. It was truly an awesome experience! 

Questions for you:

Is there anyone out there that hasn’t tried hummus before? Say it ain’t so!

What’s your favorite hummus flavor? If you don’t like hummus, I’m pretty sure we can’t be friends anymore. 

What hummus flavor would you love to see Sabra bring to the market? I’m hoping for a dessert hummus like pumpkin pie or cinnamon sugar!

What’s your favorite recipe with hummus? I love using hummus as a topping for pizza but I’m also a huge fan of this tuna sandwich with hummus.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren October 19, 2012 at 7:45 am

So cool that Sabra is located in Richmond! I had no idea. Such a cool experience too. :) Love love love Sabra! No other brand compares.

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Sara @ sarasmiles October 19, 2012 at 7:48 am

Such a cool experience! I love that there is a plant so close. I do love Sabra, especially when I found out they made those single packets which are great to take to work. I’m a fan of plain hummus (boring I know) but other than that, any spicy flavor is my favorite. I don’t think I go a day without eating some hummus!

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Candice October 19, 2012 at 7:50 am

Love hummus homemade. The store bought, including sabra, have an icky list of ingredients. They list canola/soybean oil instead of olive oil and add chemicals to preserve.

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Brittany Mullins November 6, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Thanks for your comment Candice. I sent an email to the company asking why they didn’t use olive oil in many of their hummus flavors and here’s the response: Sabra takes great care with regard to the sourcing and use of ingredients in all products.There is compelling research regarding the flavor and health attributes of the oils, spices and raw ingredients Sabra selects. A variety of oils including olive, soybean and canola can be found in Sabra’s line of fresh dips and spreads. Sabra determines which oils to use for individual products based on a variety of factors: primarily flavor, freshness and safety.

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Michelle@Peachy Palate October 19, 2012 at 8:07 am

Great tips, thanks for sharing! The range of different hummus is amazing!! Which was your favourite of the lot?

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Kathy October 19, 2012 at 8:12 am

I love love love hummus! I haven’t gotten the opportunity to try many different flavor combinations, but so far I’d say that garlic lover’s wins. Sweet hummus would be awesome to see at the store; I’d try the pumpkin or cinnamon for sure…hmmm…maybe a new recipe idea?!

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NYC Fit Girl October 19, 2012 at 8:40 am

Looks like a fun event! I am not the biggest fan of hummus but it’s growing on me :-)

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Ruthie October 19, 2012 at 9:01 am

That tour sounds great! There’s an amazing restaurant in DC called ‘Zaytinya’ that seasonally serves up butternut squash hummus. Sooooo good! :)

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Brittany Mullins November 6, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Butternut squash hummus sounds amazing!!

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Erica { EricaDHouse.com } October 19, 2012 at 9:03 am

I can’t fathom a life without hummus! I put it on *everything*! Great food photography tips!

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Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots October 19, 2012 at 9:21 am

I loveee sabra hummus!! so jealous you got to go to the factory

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Lynn October 19, 2012 at 9:26 am

I love homemade hummus. The problem with store-bought hummus, including Sabra, is that it just isn’t good. It’s made with industrial oils (SOYBEAN and canola), which are full of rancid omega-6 fats. It’s made with canned garbanzos, which are likely rich in BPA and full of phytic acid, as well as stabilizers and/or preservatives. It’s really just another subpar, processed food.

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Brittany Mullins November 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Hi Lynn – I know from touring the factory that Sabra hummus isn’t made with canned garbanzo beans. They use dried.

I actually emailed the company to find out why they don’t use olive oil in most of their hummus flavors and this was their response: Sabra takes great care with regard to the sourcing and use of ingredients in all products. There is compelling research regarding the flavor and health attributes of the oils, spices and raw ingredients Sabra selects. A variety of oils including olive, soybean and canola can be found in Sabra’s line of fresh dips and spreads. Sarba welcomes and encourages consumer input and closely monitors and considers requests relating to product varieties, flavors and ingredients. Sabra determines which oils to use for individual products based on a variety of factors: primarily flavor, freshness and safety.

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adeba April 9, 2013 at 10:10 am

what about preservative?? I saw it on the label, looks like they do use it.

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tj July 24, 2013 at 9:34 pm

yes. potassium sorbate, which carries the following description on wikipedia

Potassium sorbate is a skin, eye and respiratory irritant.[9] Although some research implies it has a long term safety record,[10] in vitro studies have shown that it is both genotoxic and mutagenic to human blood cells. Potassium sorbate is found to be toxic to human DNA in peripheral blood lymphocytes, and hence found that it negatively affects immunity.[11] It is often used with ascorbic acid and iron salts as they increase its effectiveness but this tends to form mutagenic compounds that damage DNA molecules.[12]

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Leslie October 19, 2012 at 10:10 am

I wish hummus liked me as much as I like it. Unfortunately chickpeas and I are not the best of friends. I am super jealous of your tour of the factory though. And that eggplant stuff sounds fantastic!

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Gillian @ Money After Graduation October 19, 2012 at 10:45 am

Yum. Those all look amazing. I want to try the asian hummus it sounds great ! Cool that it’s so close to your home.

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Rachel October 19, 2012 at 10:54 am

omg I loooooove hummus!!! Well loved… I was having stomach pains and realized it was from beans so I can only enjoy hummus on occasions now. But Sabra and Tribe were my favorites!

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Jenna Z October 19, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I thought EVERYONE ate hummus regularly until I went to grab a tub at the store one day and a man said to me “People actually eat that? What does it taste like.” I told him we loved it, yada yada. And he says “Hmmm. I thought it was just a joke, you know, like in that movie.” (that Adam Sandler movie, can’t remember the name right now.) I was shocked!

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KathyG October 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Would hummus be considered a ‘healthy fat’? I like to follow RealAge as much as possible and have found that a little healthy fat before meals (nuts, pb, avacado, oilve oil) really helps with my appetite. But I need more healthy fat appetizers. Do you think this would work too?

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Brittany Mullins November 6, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Hummus is more of low-fat product so I don’t think it would count. :/

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allison October 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm

What an awesome trip!!!!!!!!!!!! I would have felt like charlie in the chocolate factory:):)
I go through a “family” size container a week!

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Ashley @ LibertyBelles October 19, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I love Sabra hummus. Far and away my favorite brand! I’ve tried some other flavors but seem to always make my way back to the classic.

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Meaghan October 19, 2012 at 9:03 pm

My favorite hummus is a tie between a gram masala, and edamame. I love hummus, one of my staples in my diet.

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Kimberly October 19, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Zahtar is served in Jordan on bread with a labneh (thick yogurt). It’s delicious and also can taste salty (like the sumac), but is very traditional.

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The Healthy Apple October 19, 2012 at 10:39 pm

This is AWESOME! So fun and what a great trip. I loved reading this post and so glad you had a fun time. I Love their hummus!
xox

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Elena October 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I understand so much that you like humus: I live in Israel!

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lynn @ the actor's diet October 20, 2012 at 6:25 pm

so jealous of your sabra hummus experience – they really are the best. the other day i went to lunch with my mom and her friends and they had never had hummus before…forget about me trying to explain baba ghanoush to them all!

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Leslie October 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm

LOVE Sabra Hummus!! I recently tried a greek olive one. Awesome!

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cassie October 20, 2012 at 8:41 pm

ok, so i have tried hummus before. we have a cute place in NYC called Chick P that makes amazing hummus but i have to say that i have never tried Sabra. Now i must :-)

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BroccoliHut October 21, 2012 at 8:32 pm

What fun!! Hummus is definitely one of my favorite foods, so I would be in heaven at a Sabra factory.
My favorite hummus flavor for commercially prepared kinds is roasted red pepper, but I really like my homemade Goddess hummus too :)
I would love to see Sabra bring a BBQ flavored hummus–it would be so good with avocado on a wrap!

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Gina October 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm

That sounds amazing!!! You should seriously market the stuff; I mean just think, you could be your own quality-control (most amazing job everrr!)

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Lauren October 21, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I love hummus. One of my most favorite things to eat.

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Eliza October 22, 2012 at 3:03 am

This sounds like my dream! Does the Sabra factory offer tours for the public? Do you know how to set up a tour like that? Hummus is my absolute favorite food. I literally eat it every day. My favorite is traditional flavor Sabra hummus…OR Cava Mezze traditional flavor. It is locally made in Washington, DC where I live and it is delicious. I would LOVE for Sabra to make a sweet hummus flavor like cinnamon raisin. I have tried a sweet hummus flavor before and it is sooooo good. Also, I would love to see a butternut squah or sweet potato hummus!

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Kat October 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I like Sabra in the realms of store-bought varietals, but I’m not the biggest fan of cumin in my hummus, and they put it in almost everything…. That being said, I get my hummus from a local restaurant (Arpeggio) which is seriously the most amazing hummus I’ve ever had; the perfect balance of garlic, lemon, and flavorful olive oil—> they leave the cumin to their equally delightful baba.. I do however like Cava Mezze Roasted Red Hummus, and Asmars Baba Ghannoush, and like to eat it straight up, with tangy lebanese laffa or oven baked whole wheat pita.

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