White Sesame Seeds
White Sesame Seeds
One of the oldest in the history of spices, this tiny seed is full of flavor, crunch, and even health benefits. The scientific name for sesame seed is Sesamum indicum. The name sesame seed comes from the Greek word sesamon. It is used frequently in Middle Eastern, Asian, Mediterranean, and northern African cooking. You will find that sesame oil is an extremely important ingredient for some countries, with Japan being the country with the highest interest in importing the oil.
Sesame seeds have 45-65% fixed oil which is predominantly made up of olein. There is no volatile oil content in sesame seeds.
Some other names for sesame seed include, "juljulan" in Arabic, "zi mah" in Mandarin, "till" in French, "sesam" in German, "gingili" or "til" Hindi, "goma" in Japanese, "gergelim" in Portuguese, "kunzhut" in Russian, and "ajonjoli" in Spanish.
The earliest written historical records come from the Assyrians, who have on one of their tablets a story about the gods who drank a sesame wine one evening and then created the earth the next day.
This plant was thought to have originated in India and the seeds are mentioned frequently in ancient Hindu traditions. In some cultures, the sesame seed represents immortality. It is believed that women in ancient Babylon would consume a mixture of honey and sesame seed to delay the aging process and to provide their bodies with strength. The Greeks and Romans would bring the seed along to eat while on long journeys to conquer new lands, as they believed these seeds would give them strength and vitality.
Sesame seeds came to the United States with African slaves who brought with them their food cultures and cooking practices.
The sesame plant prefers well drained soil with a neutral pH, but this is a plant that has become adapted to many different soil types. It likes tropical environments and thrives in places like India, China, Korea, Egypt, and East Africa. They do not do well in water-logged soils which are high in salt content. On the flip side, the plant is drought tolerant because of its extensive root system. The seeds grow inside of seed pods which are sometimes called buns. These seed pods burst when the seeds are fully ripened. Farmers will usually cut them down by hand and store them in an upright position, so they don't lose as many seeds to the splitting of the pods, which is also called dehiscence. Sesame only takes 90-120 days to mature, and you will know when the plants are ready because the stems and the seed capsules will both turn from green to a yellow-brown color. The plants can grow up to six feet tall.
Our White Sesame Seeds come from India.
All sesame seeds come from the same type of plant, but their color is determined by their environment and the variety of the plant from which they come.
The lighter colored seeds are found more often in Western and Middle Eastern cuisines, whereas the darker colored seeds are more likely to be found in Eastern cuisine.
Sesame seeds can be categorized by four distinct colors; black, brown, red, and white. There is very little flavor difference between the four different colors of sesame seeds.
Sesame seeds are popular in baking for their nutty flavor and in savory spice mixes. You can combine these seeds with honey, sauces, or dips of all sorts for a nuttier flavor profile.
These white seeds can be ground up to make a paste called tahini, something that is used in the production of hummus. Tahini is also delicious on pita bread, as a vegetable dip, and when spread on fruit.
Sesame seeds are also excellent to look at on top of breads, and you will sometimes see a variety of colors on rolls as a decoration. Armenian Simit Cookies are not complete without a healthy sprinkling of sesame seeds.
A quick, delicious recipe that incorporates sesame seeds are Honey Sesame Peanuts. All you need are 2 cups of peanuts, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, ½ cup of honey, and ¼ cup of sesame seeds. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roast the peanuts on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Toss them around and then flip them, let them bake for another 5 minutes. Melt sugar and honey in a small pan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the honey over the roasted peanuts and then sprinkle them with the sesame seeds. Put these in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, then allow to cool completely before enjoying.
These seeds are hard to dry because they are so small, so they must be stored as dry as possible because they are quick to become rancid when left in too much moisture.
Usually these seeds are not used fresh, typically they are used either dried or when ground up into tahini paste or processed for their oil. Sesame oil is very resilient to heat and does not go bad quickly, so it is ideal for cooking in hot climates.
Sesame seeds are a bit nutty with a lot of crunch.
All types of sesame seeds are interchangeable for one another. There isn't a huge difference in taste between the colors, though the Black Sesame Seeds are sometimes described as being slightly nuttier than the lighter colored ones.