Monday 23 March 2020

Low carbon footprint hummus (super fast and economical to make)

Ingredients: Chick peas, garlic, tahini,
lemon juice, salt
Hummus is one of the tastiest things to eat for lunch on bread. It's also super easy to make yourself, even from a store cupboard if you're trying not to go outdoors (the COVID-19 pandemic is a very big problem at the moment in the Netherlands).

So if you're stuck for something tasty to put on bread for lunch, consider making hummus. It takes far less time than going to the shops, it's cheaper than commercial hummus and the result is tastier.

The ingredients required as all easily stored except for the garlic. The only fresh ingredient needed is garlic, though you can use garlic from jars if required.

In this example I used a 400 g tin of chick peas, one table-spoon of olive oil, a couple of tablespoons of tahini and small squirt of lemon juice, four cloves of garlic and a tea-spoon of salt.

Drain the chick peas, but keep the liquid. You'll find you need to add some liquid while liquidizing and this is the best thing to use. Keep any which is left over for use as liquid in other recipes (it'll go off if left too long - I put seal on the tin and use within a day or so).

The exact proportions of ingredients are not important. You can vary them to suit your taste buds and also to suit what you have in stock. Even the main ingredient, chick peas, isn't really necessary. OK, so real hummus may be a chick pea dish, but exactly the same procedure can be followed with any kind of tinned or pre-cooked bean and it you get a similar tasty result. So if you need something to spread on your bread and don't have any chick peas, try some other bean. For instance, black-eyed beans make a great spread as well.
Super simple - just put everything in a liquidizer. No cooking is required. Note that everything is shown "dry" here. It's always necessary to add some of the liquid from the chick pea tin to make it liquidize properly. You can also vary that according to taste - some like their hummus to be more liquid than others. If you don't have a liquidizer you can simply mash all the ingredients together. 

After 30 seconds or so it'll look like this. Stop when you like the consistency. It's immediately ready to serve.
One 400 g tin of chickpeas and the other ingredients together make about enough hummus to fill two average commercial retail hummus containers. We buy these only occasionally and when we do that we keep the containers which can be re-used many times. The red specks are due to an optional extra ingredient - I included a red chilli this time around. Other spices or herbs can be added in the liquidizer at the start.
Lunch. This recipe always makes delicious hummus.

Carbon footprint

As before when I made a pizza, I wanted to calculate the carbon footprint of this meal. It won't be very high for the calories because vegan food never is. And in this case it'll last for a few days of lunches so the cost per day will be low anyway. Unfortunately, I couldn't find accurate figures for the chick peas or tahini, so I warn you in advance that the following figures are to a large extent guess work. Perhaps you can help with this.

The first part is easy. The liquidizer consumes 1000 W but it's required for only a very short time. Less than 30 seconds in total. Therefore the total amount of energy consumed is very small. This works out as about about 8.3 Wh, or 0.0083 kWh. Due to the full sun today the only effect that it really had was to make our electricity meter run backward less quickly but I've calculated here as if we were using the average carbon footprint for electricity across Europe. Even so, the liquidizer doesn't do much harm:

Ingredient Quantity (g) CO2 equivalent (kg/kg) Total CO2 (g) kcal
Electricity 0.0083 kW 500 g/W 4.2
Chick peas 400 0.7 280 468
Olive oil 10 1.5 15 80
Lemon juice 10 0.5 5
Total carbon footprint / calories373.2 g718 kcal

As explained before, I cannot claim this time that the figures above are in any way accurate. The carbon intensity of tinned chickpeas and of tahini are both based on figures that I found (here) for similar ingredients. I picked "ready to eat meals" for the chick peas and "Nuts and almonds" for tahini (which is ground up sesame seed). As those two items dominate the total this makes the entire result questionable. However I have picked replacement values which are on the high side so I would be surprised if the carbon footprint of hummus made this way is greater than what is shown above.

I hope that readers can contribute better sources for those ingredients.

How much did it cost to make ?

These cheap chickpeas cost about 60 cents a tin, the small amount of Tahini is worth about 20 cents. The other ingredients perhaps 10 cents at most between them. That makes for a total cost of probably less than 90 cents for an equivalent amount of hummus as is found in two commercially made pre-prepared packs which cost about €2 each.

What about dried chickpeas ?

Dried chickpeas have a lower carbon footprint when sitting on your shelf than does an equivalent quantity of tinned chickpeas. However a lot of energy is required to boil them at home. I therefore would expect a higher carbon footprint for chickpeas that I boil myself than is the case for those bought in a tin where economies of scale will make the process more efficient, almost certainly more energy than is consumed in making the small amount of steel in a can. This seems to be confirmed by various sources.

No comments: