What is Sesame Tahini (Tahini Paste)?

Sesame Tahini (Tahini Paste)
Sesamum indicum

Origin / Harvest:
USA / September-October
Guatemala / November-December

Description & History
Sesame may be the oldest condiment known to man. Although the wild species are native to sub-Saharan Africa, archeological evidence indicates that sesame was first domesticated on a large–scale in the ancient Middle East.

Records of sesame production date back to the Indus Valley between 2250 and 1750 B.C. and to the Tigris and Euphrates valleys in 1600 BC. It was according to Assyrian legend that when the gods met to create the world, they drank wine made from sesame seeds. Sesame even made its way into one of this region’s most famous stories, Arabian Nights. In the tale of Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves, ‘Open Sesame’ was the secret password to gain entry into the treasure cave, which reflects the distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod to burst open when it reaches maturity.

It wasn’t until much later in the 17th and 18th centuries that sesame seed made its journey to the Americas by way of African slaves. To this day, sesame is still known by the Nigerian name benne in parts of the American South and the Caribbean.

Sesame tahini is the paste created from ground sesame seeds.

Tahini paste is one of the main ingredients in hummus, halva, and other Mediterranean/Middle Easter staples and desserts. Although centuries old, hummus has only now become popular in western diets. This tasty spread can be eaten as a dip (often with pita chips), spread on sandwiches, or used as a garnish among other uses.

Tahini paste is also found within salad dressing, sauces in cuisines worldwide. However it is used, tahini adds depth and a nutty bite. It can also provide a tasty alternative to peanut butter and peanut sauce for those with allergies.

Tahini paste is a great source of iron, magnesium and calcium. In addition to these important nutrients, tahini paste contains two unique substances, sesamin and sesamolin, which belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans. Lignans have been proven to lower cholesterol and prevent high blood pressure.


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