Sesame Seeds – Interesting Facts

Sesame seeds have either a white, light brown or red shell. Black sesame is also popular and is said to be the original form of sesame. The untoasted, dried, whole seeds are most readily available, but sesame seeds can also be found in the form of a ground sesame puree known as tahini, which is an ingredient in hummus, a delicious Middle Eastern chickpea puree.

Due to the valuable fats in sesame, its seeds are often turned into oil. Particularly in Arabic and Asian cooking, the dark sesame oil of the roasted seeds is a staple ingredient used to season salads and stir-fry recipes. The light, untoasted sesame oil is better known throughout Europe. Gomashio is a Japanese specialty made from light sesame seeds and sea salt, which is a good accompaniment to fresh bread, salads and other savoury dishes. 

Food Facts Food Facts

Sesame Seeds

Class

sesamum

Calories

690 kcal per 100 g

Nutrients

11.7g carbohydrate, 11.7g fibre, 49.8g fat, 17.7g protein per 100g

Season

available year-round

Storage

store cool and dark in an air-tight container

Shelf life

approx. 4 months

Sesame Seeds – Origin and Nutrients

The sesame plant is one of the oldest cultivated oil plants, supposedly having been cultivated in both Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. In China cultivation began more than 2,000 years ago. This makes it difficult to determine whether the sesame plant originated in Africa or Asia. The sesame plant, which bears similarities to the European foxglove, grows best in tropical and sub-tropical climates and is now mainly cultivated in China and India.

Due to their high fat content, unprocessed sesame seeds spoil quickly and only keep for a few months. Rich in unsaturated fatty acids, folic acid, zinc, magnesium and iron, sesame seeds should be a daily component of your diet as they are very healthy. To intensify their sweet and nutty flavour briefly toast sesame seeds in a pan without oil.

Sesame Seeds – Uses

Sesame seeds can be used as a salad, soup or a pastry topping. Bagels and bread rolls are often sprinkled with white sesame, and in Turkey many biscuits and sweets achieve their distinctive flavour through sesame seeds. A well-known popular choice is halva, which is originally from India and Central Asia and has many variations, but is always based on a mixture of ground sesame seeds, sugar, honey and plant oil.

Sesame proves itself to be even more versatile when it comes to savoury dishes. Try marinating feta cheese in a mixture of toasted fennel and sesame seeds, lemon juice and zest, and then season with salt and pepper. Skewered with some fresh cucumber, the cheese makes for a delicious snack. Particularly in the Asian cuisine sesame seeds are often combined with fish - whether as a subtle addition to tuna canapés, mixed together with the rice in salmon sushi, or crushed into the sauce of a soba noodle dish with fried cod.

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