Bitter Hummus

Made hummus with dried chickpeas (I used Nigella Lawson's overnight soak with a slurry of 1 T flour, 1 T salt, 1/2 t. baking soda, then boiled until tender), olive oil, boughten tahini, salt, lemon juice. It was terribly bitter! Any ideas why it could have happened?

  • Posted by: drkate
  • January 25, 2012


susan G. October 22, 2012
Wikipedia's entry for Hummus (the devil's in the details) --

"Not to be confused with Humus."

Hummus (Arabic: ???????) is a Middle Eastern and Arabic food dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.
Hummus is an Arabic word (???? ?ummu?) meaning "chickpeas" and the complete name of the prepared spread in Arabic is ???? ?????? ?ummu? bi ?a??na which means "chickpeas with tahini"
meagen October 22, 2012
humus is NOT food why would you want to eat it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
foodroom January 27, 2012
Could be the olive oil - often bitter - or possibly a stray pip from the lemon...
drkate January 26, 2012
I did use toasted tahini, and it was fresh from the store last week, but when I tasted it this afternoon, I could immediately tell the bitterness certainly came from the tahini. There is no expiration date on the jar and it was made in a facility here in town, so I never imagined it could have been the tahini. I guess it was on the shelf a little too long. Thank you to everyone for the suggestions!
sarah K. January 26, 2012
I had the same problem with my last batch of hummus, and checked the tahini. I had used raw tahini, rather than toasted sesame tahini, and the difference was obvious. The raw stuff was bitter and nasty, not like a rancid taste. Any chance you used raw tahini?
maggiesara January 26, 2012
I'm wondering if perhaps the tahini had gone rancid? That would give a bitter taste, and tahini is one of those things that can sit on both supermarket and home shelves for a very long time. I certainly have had trouble in the past with old beans/peas of various sorts, but IMO they tend to be hard and chalky, rather than bitter.
drkate January 26, 2012
Here's the reference to the chickpeas soaked with flour and salt and baking soda. It appears to be borrowed from Anna del Conte. A search of the interwebs turns up a lot of disagreement and disgruntlement among cooks who have had sad, disappointing, even tooth-breakingly unpleasant experiences cooking their chickpeas, but there are many, many cooks who stand by their statements that crockpots or oven baking or soaking or boiling for 2 minutes, resting for an hour and then proceeding with the recipe works great. I must try to put a bit of that tahini on some bread and see if that's the culprit. Thank you to all who have responded!
susan G. January 26, 2012
I believe the purpose of the baking soda is to soften (alkalize) the cooking water, and/or speed up cooking time. Flour? possibly to help keep the soda in solution? Anyway, I've never used either and chickpeas cook up just fine. Maybe for some of the ancient beans that never want to cook through...
Slow C. January 26, 2012
Dried chickpeas only need to be soaked overnight in water, boiled, perhaps a bit of salt toward the end for seasoning and finishing. Flour and baking soda? Sure to produce off flavors. I'm guessing the bitterness is from the tahini. I've always hated the stuff until I was encouraged to explore different brands. I thought about where the stuff comes from and who eats it and wandered down to a local ethnic shop (think Greek/Turkish/Israeli, etc.) and asked them which brand of tahini sells best there. The difference is unbelievable (and MUCH less expensive than the fancy brands from fancy stores). Since then I have been told that my hummus is "the best they've ever eaten"--my recipe is nothing special, it's the not-bitter tahini.
Sadassa_Ulna January 25, 2012
I use about a 1/4 -1/3 cup of tahini per 7 cups of cooked chickpeas when I make hummus because I find tahini too strong and kind of bitter (I compensate by adding lots of olive oil). I think it might be your tahini or ratio of tahini ti chickpeas. Try a little plain tahini on some bread and see if that is the same bitterness you are tasting in your hummus. If you have a can of any mild beans you can salvage the stuff you made by pureeing/adding them.
drkate January 25, 2012
At a half teaspoon just in soaking water for 6 cups, I don't know about the baking soda. Garlic was raw.
MauraKaras January 25, 2012
I'm thinking it's the baking soda. Thats the only ingredient I could see being bitter. Your garlic was raw, right?
drkate January 25, 2012
I'm not sure the chemistry of the slurry, but the people who suggested it claim that it improves the texture of the chickpeas; it makes them smoother/creamier. I experimented with the b. vinegar suggestion, and that did add a nice tang. I also tried adding a bit of blood orange-infused olive oil, and that was pretty effective at first, but the bitterness was still pronounced after the initial flavor of the orange dissipated.
The garlic was two or three weeks old, so that might be it. I didn't notice a sprouted one, but the 3 cloves of garlic I used was the last of a head I'd used cloves from for other things.
susan G. January 25, 2012
My recipe for hummus uses 1/3 cup tahini to 2 cups of cooked chickpeas, so you are only using 1/2 that amount -- I don't think that's the problem. How about the garlic? Some people comment on the bitterness of garlic that has begun to sprout.
I'm curious about the flour used while soaking the chickpeas... what's the purpose?
drkate January 25, 2012
I will try the b. vinegar and see if that helps some! Thank you!
drkate January 25, 2012
I made about 6 cups of the stuff (had no idea how much the c'peas would expand) and added almost 1/2 cup of tahini.
winegirlnc January 25, 2012
How much tahini did you use? It shouldn't be the predominant ingredient. I typically don't use more than 1-2 TB in my go-to recipe. I've never made hummus with dried chickpeas, but is it possible they needed to be rinsed before you did the soaking?
Tilley V. January 25, 2012
Tahini is quite bitter on its own and that will almost always be the predominant flavor of hummus. I suggest adding a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to it to deepen the flavor and cut the acidity a bit. Let us know how it goes.
drkate January 25, 2012
Forgot to mention garlic was in there, too!
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