What does it mean to be a Sabra Hummus Tastemaker?
I got to find out earlier in the summer when I was invited to a jam-packed 2 day trip to Richmond, Virginia. Having been to Virginia many times but never in the Richmond area I was intrigued. I didn’t know that chickpeas (used to make hummus) grew in Virginia!
After a beautiful flight from Indiana to Richmond, I was whisked away to the hotel to check in then we all headed to dinner at local favorite Juleps. I’m not going to bore you all with the details of the dinner but the food was too good not to share at least a few photo’s of. Juleps makes the best fried green tomatoes I have ever had. Ever.
Dinner was a great time to learn more about the other Tastemakers who were invited on this journey with me- many of which are tops in their niche and I had been following for years.
The next day we were taken on a tour of the Virginia State University Agricultural Research Farm (AKA Randolph Farm) where we learned from Dr Harbans Bhardwaj about the over 4 varieties of chickpea that can be successfully grown in Virginia, which will be a hopeful boost to their agricultural economy. Who would have thought that a legume that typically grows only in the Pacific Northwest and California could tolerate Virginia’s winters and the pervasive fungal disease achochyta blight. Dr Bhardwaj is investigating which of the over 1200 possible types of chickpea thrives in the Virginia soil and does so at the Randolph test facility.
We were also shown test fields of canola and sesame. I had never seen a sesame plant before so that was pretty interesting. I could have spent all day there because in addition to what Dr Bhardwaj showed us there were acres more of other crops, hoop houses, temperature controlled grow houses and so much more. I felt like I saw a sign for about every living plant imaginable from papaya to pineapple. The over 450 acre compound was teaming with visitors, researchers, students and local farmers. I loved it.
Americans on the whole did not grow up eating Hummus, as it is a traditionally Middle-Eastern staple. I remember having it for the first time in 11th grade at the home of a friend and then not again until about 10 years ago. Now, this is something I either eat or cook with almost daily. Yes, cook with. From salad dressings to chocolate cake hummus makes an appearance in many of my recipes. Why? The pure, non-processed ingredients as well as the fact that chickpeas (AKA garbanzo beans) are incredibly good for you. Hummus quite literally is ground chickpeas, oil, garlic, a bit of salt, Tahini (ground sesame seeds).
Sabra has introduced Hummus to the United States and with the demand rising, the need to find more ways to produce it’s key component- the chickpea has increased. Sabra recently moved their production facility from New York State to Virginia to be closer to the research facility and bring jobs to the state. It was there where we met Sabra Chef Mary Dawn and the staff of Sabra could not have been more welcoming and accommodating.
Before our tour of the inner workings of the production facility we feasted on the entire line of Sabra products from the complete line of hummus to the Salsas to the Greek yogurt based dips to the guacamole to the Mediterranean salads. We learned how to properly taste the hummus (with our noses pinched) to capture the essence of the flavor profile. Take a bite with your nose pinched- it works. Chef Mary Dawn shared the intricate process that Sabra goes through to ensure a perfect product and the attention to detail that they take form recipe creation to packaging. They take in the feedback of the consumer as well to drive what they make and when. The salsa is made in California, on the doorsteps of the fields where the tomatoes are grown and the guacamole is made BY HAND in their facility in Mexico.
Do you see a pattern here? No ingredients that make cross country treks on trucks to factories. They take the process TO the fields and keep the time from vine/plant to a minimum. Using scientific ways to preserve that fresh made taste is what sets Sabra apart from the rest.
This is a good time to tell you that I was not compensated for this post nor was I asked to write it. I am a true fan of the company as well as the product. While I was sent out to tour their facility and farm by Sabra, all opinions are my own. Try it for yourself. You will become a Sabra fan too!
The rest of our trip I will share in photos. From the many products we taste tested to our little group in cute hazmat-style suits you will see that this was educational as well as fun. I would like to thank the staff of Seymour PR who took a leap and asked me to join in the fun. I am grateful for their trust and friendship.
What is YOUR favorite Sabra Product? Need a refresher? Click HERE to see their complete line.
Here is MY favorite hummus: