Have you ever looked at the nutrition label on your hummus? You know those times… when you’re munching on some veggies and dip, but you don’t have your phone for some reason… and instead of browsing Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, you just stare at the ingredient list on your food. Sometimes you think to yourself, “Wow, that’s pretty healthy,” but other times you start thinking, “Wow, what am I eating!?”
It’s a common saying in the healthy eating world that you should be able to understand everything on your food’s nutritional label. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to consume so many unhealthy fillers, artificial additives, and preservatives thrown into modern processed food in order to cut production costs, boost flavor, and maintain freshness. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your food (which includes your hummus, of course!) contains whole ingredients that are not synthetically enhanced for marketing purposes.
High Pressure Processing in Today’s Marketplace
The proliferation of unnatural food additives is why today, any reasonable discussion of how to create healthy processed foods must include the subject of High-Pressure Processing. Also sometimes referred to as “cold-pressure processing” or “Pascalization,” this revolutionary technique uses incredibly high pressures to inactivate harmful microorganisms in food. This eliminates the need for heat treating or artificial preservatives.
There’s plenty more to explain about HPP, but in order to fully understand it, you should first understand the most popular methods currently in use, which are pasteurization and preservatives.
- Pasteurization refers to the use of high heat to kill microbes in food. There are various specified methods approved by the USDA for different types of food, but they all involve heating the product to temperatures between 145º to 284º Fahrenheit. It is extremely effective and efficient, but as you might imagine, exposing food to these levels of heat changes its texture and flavor, and can adversely affect nutrient content.
- Preservatives are artificial chemicals that either kill microorganisms or inhibit their reproduction. They are also very effective, but have been associated with health risks—so common scientific knowledge is that they are best avoided. There are three common preservatives in hummus (potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and potassium benzoate), whose harmful effects include cancer risks, genetic mutation, white blood cell dysfunction, and increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, neuro-degenerative diseases, and premature aging.
So while your hummus label may be fun to read, it’s important to understand what you’re reading, so you can make sure that you have the most fresh tasting hummus, as well as the healthiest, on your plate!
What is HPP? How does HPP work?
High Pressure Processing is a pressurization process that effectively eliminates risk of bacterial infection from several well-known lethal microbes, including E. coli, listeria, and salmonella. Some spore-forming bacteria are resistant to the process, but they cannot reproduce in acidic environments—so by using both HPP processes and proper pH management, even refrigerated, perishable foods can be preserved for up to 3 months. In addition, HPP achieves these benefits while preserving nutrients, fresh flavor, and texture.
What you need to understand about High Pressure Processing is that HPP machines reliably create water pressures that cannot be found anywhere in the natural world, pressures so great that they are difficult for the human mind to comprehend.
Here’s an illustration for you: the deepest point in Earth’s ocean, the Mariana Trench, is roughly 36,000 feet below sea level. Incredibly, this is the underwater equivalent of the height of Mount Everest! Or if you want a more tangible example, commercial passenger jets generally cruise at around 28,000 ft—so the distance to the ground you see out of an airplane window only represents about 80% of the depth of our deepest ocean.
The massive water volume at that depth creates an astounding pressure of 16,000 pounds per square inch (PSI)! To frame this in the context of something we might commonly experience, the pressure you feel when swimming to the bottom of an Olympic swimming pool is only roughly 5 PSI.
So, how much pressure does HPP produce? Drum roll… The answer is 87,000 PSI! In order to recreate that level of pressure using our ocean, you would have to travel nearly 220,000 feet underwater.. which would take you through the entire crust of the earth, and well into its mantle. All in all, we think the machine is easier.
HPP machines create this pressure in a thick tube of solid steel, like a torpedo tube. This tube is filled with packaged product. The machine,which must be built to extreme and exacting standards in order to both create and withstand these powerful forces, then floods the chamber with water, and compresses it all with a powerful piston.
How Does HPP Kill Bacteria?
HPP foods must be packaged according to strict guidelines in order to ensure that the packages are able to transmit pressure well, and the food itself must contain enough water content to reliably transmit the external pressure from outside to inside the container. And since nutrients and biological cells have stronger cell walls than bacteria, they withstand and transmit pressure to the bacteria. The pressure forces water through the bacterial cell walls, so they are hyper-hydrated until they can no longer function.
Plus, since the food is processed while already inside its packaging, there is no way to introduce new pathogens. That means that HPP hummus has a long shelf life, while preserving the taste, texture, and nutrients that we all love!
HOPE Hummus — HPP Hummus for Fresh Hummus Taste!
We at HOPE Hummus are proud to say that we invest in High Pressure Processing machines built by Avure, the most trusted name in HPP—because we want you, our customer, to have the best hummus we can make. Even just two years into our humble beginnings, we invested millions of dollars into this technology, and became the world’s first HPP hummus, because otherwise we’d have to compromise on delivering our quality product.
HPP is not a new technology. In fact, its benefits were observed and recorded over a century ago, although it was not reliable enough for commercial use. However, it is now a reliable and fast-growing method of food processing—although it is generally a more expensive alternative to the “cheap and easy” methods of pasteurization and preservatives. This is why HPP use is generally linked to socially- and health-conscious companies who will go the extra mile to make their foods as healthy as possible.
At HOPE, we go the extra mile. We encourage you to look into HPP for yourself and learn about the difference it makes. But if you really want to understand it firsthand, just try a container of HOPE Hummus and you’ll see what we mean.
As always, cheers and healthy eating!