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.