How to Buy Quality Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are one of the oldest oil seeds known to man. They are gotten from the Sesame plant (Sesamum indicum) which originated in India. These seeds have been used for thousands of years as a culinary condiment due to rich nutty flavour they give to meals.

They are used in baked foods, sprinkled on bread buns, ground into soups, used in manufacturing margarine and so on. These delicate seeds are a rich source of antioxidants, dietary fibre, omega-6, amino acids like tryptophan and fat-burning polyphenols like sesamin and sesamol., vitamins B and E, and minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium. All these contribute to the numerous health benefits they pack.

Some Features of Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds have been shown to lower cholesterol level, boost digestion and hair growth, prevent cancer, manage diabetes, improve oral health, and many more.
Sesame seeds come in various forms – white, brown, or black.

The black ones are hulled and have a richer flavour than white or brown ones. They are more bitter and have a crispier crunch when compared to the other forms. They also contain more calcium and are usually used for medicinal purposes. The white ones are unhulled and have higher iron and carbohydrate content. They are mostly used as ingredients in foods.

Sesame oil, which is derived from the seeds, is used as a highly potent flavour enhancer in many dishes. However, it shouldn’t be used as a frying oil due to its low smoke point which means it burns even at low temperatures.

It is very important to buy quality seeds so as to get all the nutrition it can provide and also prevent all the adverse effects that come with consuming bad seeds. When picking sesame seeds, here are some tips to help to purchase the best ones.

Tips For Buying Quality Sesame Seeds

Examine the physical characteristics of the seeds

The seeds must be uniform in texture, structure and look. They should not be shrivelled, mottled from any kind of disease, moulded, or discoloured. The seeds should also be free from stones, leaves, debris, insect-damaged seeds, seeds of other plants and other impurities.

Check the packaging (either tin or sack) for any evidence of moisture.

The presence of moisture in the seeds may cause them to deteriorate quickly due to microbial growth and heating. Moisture also lowers the storage life of the seeds as it has been proven that for each rise of one per cent in moisture content, the storage life of the seeds is halved.

Since sesame seeds have a very high oil content, they can become rancid surprisingly fast. Rancidity is the complete or incomplete oxidation of oils when exposed to light, air, moisture, or bacteria causing an unpleasant odour (and sometimes taste) in the oil. In order to avoid purchasing rancid seeds, smell them properly before buying to ensure that they smell fresh. Note that hulled seeds are more prone to rancidity.

High quality sesame seeds are usually fleshier than the low quality ones. Always make sure the seeds are properly dried but not completely flat.

Check the colour of the seeds

The colour of black sesame seeds could vary from dark brown to mildly black to jet black. The jet black ones are the purest and have the highest quality so be sure to check for the colour.

Sesame seeds should be stored in an airtight container or sack, then placed in a cool, dark, and dry place. Improper storage could lead to contamination of the seeds and invasion of pests. If the seeds are not stored properly, it is advisable not to buy. It will not hurt to check out the storage facility of whatever company you wish you purchase from so you’ll be sure they store their seeds well.

Always try to buy seeds that have not been stored for too long to ensure maximal freshness. Buy from companies that have a high turnover rate so you’re certain the seeds are not stale.

How Restaurants use Sesame Seeds to Nourish their Foods

Originating from Asia, sesame seeds have become one of the most popular culinary condiments in the world. These seeds are known for the rich nutty flavour they lend to meals; so, it is no surprise that many restaurants across the globe have incorporated them into their dishes.

Asides the flavour, sesame seeds are also used in cooking for the many health benefits they carry. They are rich in phytonutrients, vitamins (B and C), phosphorus, selenium, poly unsaturated fatty acids, omega-6, calcium, iron, and dietary fibres. They have been shown to help reduce blood pressure, fight diabetes, lower cholesterol level, aid digestion, prevent cancer, boost hair growth and so much more.

Food companies have devised many ways to nourish their foods with these seeds. From sprinkling them on bread buns, to baking them in foods, and drizzling sesame oil on icecream, sesame seeds are now a staple ingredient in the kitchen of many food companies.

McDonald’s

McDonald’s, the 2nd largest fast-food chain in the world, purchases about 75% of Mexico’s sesame crop for use in their sesame seed buns worldwide. The white sesame seeds, especially known to be slightly sweet and have the aroma of lightly caramelized milk, roasted peanuts, and honey are sprinkled on the otherwise plain white bun.

They add a little bit of flavour, texture, and are visually pleasing. McDonald’s also uses the seeds to give their buns a distinctive look and mouthfeel that customers will usually not find anywhere else.

Tahini’s

Another company that makes use of these seeds is the Canada-based Middle Eastern restaurant, Tahini’s. The name of the restaurant itself is gotten from a paste made from sesame seeds, Tahini.

Tahini is made by toasting the hulled seeds for about 2 to 3 minutes, grinding them, and them combining the ground powder with a neutral oil to form a smooth paste. This paste is rich in flavour, vegan, and gluten-free. Tahini’s uses tahini as the sauce in their mouthwatering shawarmas. The restaurant also uses it in their famous hummus which is made by blending cooked, mashed chickpeas with the tahini, lemon juice and garlic. The hummus is then served with garlic & cabbage sauces, as well as fresh-cut tomatoes with some warm soft pita bread and meat for the restaurant’s special.

Zingerman’s Bake house

Zingerman’s Bake house, a bakery under the Zingerman’s company uses sesame seeds in their baking. The seeds and tahini are baked into their cookies and croissants to give a nuttier flavour to the snacks. Also, because seeds are used and not nuts to get the flavour, it reduces the number of people that will suffer allergic reactions from it.

Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant

Sesame seeds are also used as a garnish in Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant in Sylvania. The seeds are roasted to intensity the Nutty flavour. They are also ground into a smooth powder that could be sprinkled on rice, or on sushi pieces.

Other Foods that use Sesame

Ice Cream

In Japan, ice cream topped with sesame seeds has been gaining a lot of popularity in the country. Both the white and black seeds are used to deliver the rich flavour associated with sesame.

Sometimes, sesame oil is drizzled on the ice cream to give a deeper and more wholesome taste. Sesame crackers are made by glazing the cracker dough in soy sauce, adding sesame seeds, then baking them in the oven. These crackers are delicious and are a healthy alternative to chips.

Goma-ae

Goma-ae is a popular Japanese side dish served in Japanese restaurants in the west. Made with spinach, green beans and sesame seeds, Goma-ae is a clever way to eat vegetables with the seeds. The vegetables are cooked, and then mixed with sesame sake sauce or miso paste and some sesame seeds are sprinkled on top.

Sesame chicken

Chinese restaurants in the United States serve a dish known as Sesame chicken. As the name implies, the seeds are used in the preparation of the dish. The dish is made from chicken thigh pieces that have been de-boned and Chinese deep-fried. The fried chicken pieces are stirred in a semi-thick, reddish-brown, sweet sauce. The sauce is made from corn starch, vinegar, wine, chicken broth, sesame oil and sugar.

The dish is topped with small sesame seeds and sometimes served with vegetables such as spring onions and broccoli.

General Tso’s chicken

Another dish you will find in North American Chinese restaurants is the General Tso’s chicken. This dish is quite similar to the Sesame chicken. But it is spicier and less sweet due to the absence of brown sugar.

It is prepared by deep-frying battered chicken thighs until they are golden brown. Then tossing the fried piece in a sauce made with soy sauce, garlic, red chilli flakes and hoisin sauce. The final touch involves sprinkling a generous amount of sesame seeds and green onions before the dish is served.

Sesame oil is used in a good number of recipes in food companies worldwide. It is majorly drizzled on salads and not used to fry due to its low smoke point.