Idaho-grown garbanzo beans star in Janine Zacca Zenner’s homemade hummus.
Bean spread evolved with family ties
By Melissa Davlin
Photos by Matt Leitholt
Hummus might be a staple at potlucks and parties now, but that wasn’t the case when Janine Zacca Zenner was a high school student in Florida.
“I grew up eating and making hummus all the time,” she said, but many of her friends had never heard
of the creamy garbanzo bean dip. But she is Lebanese.
Her connection with the Mediterranean food grew when she met her husband, Chris, and moved to Boise. Chris’ parents, Russ and Kathy Zenner, are third-generation farmers in
Genesee. One of their crops: garbanzo beans.
When Zacca Zenner’s mother visited and met Chris’ parents, she told her daughter to ditch the canned beans and start using fresh ones from the farm for her hummus. Like a good daughter, she listened, and loved the results.
Friends and family started encouraging her to package and sell the hummus. But her background was in finance, not food production and marketing, and she didn’t know where to start.
So she approached the University of Idaho Food Technology Center in Caldwell. They helped her set up a test booth at a farmers market, and the responses were overwhelmingly positive. In 2011, Zacca Zenner set up her first sales account with the Boise Co-Op, and has steadily expanded her distribution throughout the Treasure Valley and Ketchum areas since.
Now, she makes nearly 400 pounds of hummus in each production run, and hopes to expand distribution through-out the Pacific Northwest. Her hummus comes in three flavors—Traditional, Roasted Red Pepper and Poblano Pepper—and she’s considering adding a lentil spread to the lineup.
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