Sesame is one of the oldest recorded plants grown for its seeds. The Egyptians and Babylonians used ground sesame seeds in their breads and this continues in the Middle East today. Sesame is an annual tropical plant and the seeds may be pale gold or white, red, brown, or black, depending on the variety. The small oval seeds are shiny and waxy because of their oil content.
Native range Africa, India, China
Major producers India, China, Myanmar, Mexico, Pakistan, Turkey, Uganda, Sudan, Nigeria
Harvesting Plants are harvested before the seeds are fully ripe (when they burst open). The seed pods are dried and hulled, usually mehanically.
Taste and aroma Sesame seeds are not very aromatic but they have a mildly nutty, earthy flavour. When sesame seeds are dry roasted their nutty aroma and flavour is enhanced. Black sesame seeds have an earthier taste than white sesame seeds and are not usually ground.
Culinary uses Sesame seeds can be scattered over breads or ground and added to the dough before baking. They are used to dress cold chicken, noodles, and vegetable salads.It is essential to the Middle Eastern spice blend za'atar, and to Japanese seven-spice powder. Black sesame seeds are often used in Japanese and Chinese cooking as a garnish for rice and vegetables, and to coat fish and seafood before cooking. Blended with coarse salt, they make the Japanese condiment goma shio that is sprinkled over vegetables, salads, and rice.
Other uses Sesame oil is used in lubricants, soap, cosmetics, and ointments.
Storage Sesame seeds will keep for up to 2 years in an airtight container.