I have been snacking on hummus lately and wondered whether or not it needs to be refrigerated. I was also curious whether hummus would make a good picnic food and if it would remain safe to eat if left out of the refrigerator for several hours. So, I did some extensive research and these are my findings.
Hummus, whether bought in the cold section of the store or made at home, must be refrigerated and should not be left unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours. However, canned hummus does not require refrigeration before opening. Hummus has a shelf life of about 1 week once opened.
Here is the shelf life of hummus, both homemade and processed, before and after opening:
|Product||Before Opening||After Opening|
|Commercial Hummus (Refrigerated)||Refrigerate 2 months||1 week|
|Commercial Hummus (Unrefrigerated)||Pantry 1 month past Expiration Date||1 week|
|Commercial Hummus (Canned)||Pantry 1 month past Expiration Date||1 week|
|Homemade||Must be refrigerated||Refrigerate 4-5 days|
Now let’s explore the subject in greater detail.
How Long Does Hummus Last Once Opened?
How long hummus lasts depends on many things including the ingredients, how it was processed, and how it is stored, before and after the container is opened.
Because hummus is a vegetable-based product, it will spoil very quickly if left unrefrigerated and will stay good longer if kept at a temperature between 33 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Also, some of the ingredients, especially garlic and spinach, go bad quickly and shorten the time that the chickpeas (the main ingredient in hummus) last. But, some ingredients such as lemon juice and salt do help to extend the life of hummus.
Here are recommendations for how long hummus lasts before and after opening with refrigeration:
- The most common type found in the deli case at your local supermarket: Lasts 2 months before opening with refrigeration; lasts 1 week after opening with refrigeration. Be sure to check the expiration date on the container just to be sure.
- Commercial Hummus that is purchased unrefrigerated: will last in your pantry 1 month past its expiration date. After opening, the hummus must be refrigerated and will remain good for up to 1 week. Please note that the unrefrigerated version must be stored under ideal conditions which includes a cool, dry, and dark location such as a cabinet or pantry which is not exposed to excessive heat or direct sunlight.
- Commercial Canned Hummus that is purchased unrefrigerated: will last in your pantry 1 month past its expiration date. After opening, the hummus must be refrigerated and will remain good for up to 1 week. Please note that the canned version must be stored under ideal conditions which includes a cool, dry, and dark location such as a cabinet or pantry which is not exposed to excessive heat or direct sunlight.
- Homemade hummus: must be refrigerated and will only remain good for approximately 4-5 days as a homemade version usually does not contain the preservatives that commercially produced products do.
What About Freezing Hummus?
Hummus, homemade and commercial, can be frozen for up to 4 months in a freezer-safe container. There may be a little separation when thawed, but a good stirring can usually restore the texture. Frozen hummus should be thawed overnight in the refrigerator. Hummus that has previously been frozen should not be re-frozen.
Can You Eat Hummus If Left out Overnight?
After being left out for more than 2 hours, it’s difficult to know for sure whether hummus would be safe to eat. Canned hummus that has added preservatives might stand a fighting chance of still be okay to eat. However, I would not recommend chancing it. The risk of food poisoning is simply not worth it.
How Do You Know When Hummus Is Bad?
Here are 5 ways to determine whether hummus has gone bad.
- Mold- You may see mold or some other kind of growth on the surface.
- Bad Smell- Hummus will develop an unpleasant odor as ingredients such as olive oil, spinach, and garlic start to go rancid.
- Weird Consistency- If the oil has started separating and the texture is a little different, it can be stirred and will be just fine, but, if the oil has completely separated from the beans, it would be safer to discard the rest of the container.
- Discolored or Hard- If hummus has been around too long, it will begin to harden and the color will darken.
- If old, don’t take a chance- If the container has been opened for more than 7 days, it would be better to just discard it.
Eating hummus that has started going bad has the potential to make you ill because of the growth of mold and bacteria, so if in doubt, err on the safe side and pitch it out.
What Happens If You Eat Bad Hummus?
Things That Help Hummus Last Longer
Here are 4 things that can help hummus last longer:
- Keep it refrigerated at all times.
- Keep hummus in an airtight container, like this good one found on Amazon, at all times.
- If serving hummus at a meal or party, consider placing the hummus container in a bowl of ice to keep it cold.
- Consider drizzling a little olive oil over the surface of hummus before returning it to the refrigerator to avoid oxidation and keep it moist.
When serving hummus:
- Keep the container lidded to avoid airborne contamination.
- Use a spoon or other utensil that is dedicated solely to the container of hummus to avoid cross-contamination with other food.
- Keep the outside, rim, and container lid clean to avoid contamination.
- Consider spooning an exact portion you think will be eaten into another dish and leaving the container refrigerated.
What to Do If You Have Too Many Opened Containers of Hummus
If you had that holiday party and more than one container of hummus was opened, consider saving as much as you can by:
- Freezing all but one container.
- Breaking out the snack crackers and feasting on as much leftover hummus as you can.
- Making hot dishes according to Middle Eastern recipes which are healthy and economical.
Types of Hummus That Would Not Be Safe to Ever Leave Unrefrigerated
All types of hummus, commercial and homemade, and all flavors of hummus require refrigeration after opening, and only one brand of hummus (that I could find) makes and markets an unrefrigerated version that packages the two main ingredients of chickpeas and tahini in separate containers which are stirred together when opened.
Ways to Eat Hummus
There are unlimited ways to eat hummus and here are a few of those ways:
- Spread on pita and other breads, crackers, and chips;
- As a dip with carrot sticks and other vegetables;
- Served hot spread on a plate and topped with vegetables and/or meat such as oxtail;
- Freeze in ice trays and place a cube or two in a plastic bag or container; the cube(s) should be thawed by lunch and can be enjoyed with chips or vegetable sticks.
Interesting Facts About Hummus and Where It Originated
- Although it surely originated somewhere in the Middle East as several countries in that region take credit for developing hummus as we now know it, it is very difficult to pin down exactly where it came from. The first written recipe is from Cairo, Egypt, in the 13th Century. But, at the present time, hummus is made all over the world.
- The basic recipe for hummus is the same all over the world and is a combination of chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and garlic. The only difference in the various recipes is in the spices that are added to that basic recipe.
- Each Middle Eastern country has its own version of hummus but many eat it as a hot dish rather than as a snack food.
- Chickpeas have been cultivated in the Middle East for many centuries and have at times been ground and used as a coffee substitute.
- Hummus is a great source for vitamin B, protein, and dietary fiber. And, not only is it low in saturated fat, but is high in complex carbohydrates which would make it a great part of a weight-loss program as it is very filling, would discourage overeating, and improves digestion.
- Hummus is a great source of iron and can reduce your risk of having anemia.
- Hummus has been rumored to be an aphrodisiac.
- Because hummus is made with olive oil, it contains anti-inflammatory properties.
- Hummus contains calcium and other minerals that improve bone density.
- Hummus is also loaded with amino acids that strengthen muscles.
- Hummus has amino acids and minerals which lead to healthy skin and hair.
Hummus is a snack that has many health benefits. Recently, in an effort to eat healthier and possibly lose a few extra pounds, I’ve been eating it as a snack. My introduction to this wonderful and healthy concoction was from the deli at a local supermarket but I’ve recently been experimenting with various homemade recipes.
However, being easy to maintain its freshness as a portable snack food is not one of those benefits unless you buy the canned or the unrefrigerated versions and only open them when you are ready to eat. Hummus is a plant-based food being made from chickpeas and must, therefore, be maintained as a vegetable.
Just in case you are as interested as I am in trying your own homemade version of Hummus, I can recommend the recipe found on The Mediterranean Dish website at themediterraneandish.com. It is easy and delicious! Enjoy!