Who doesn’t like the taste of Sesame seeds on breads, in salads, or sprinkled on cooked spinach. We learn to love its flavor at a very young age and it remains with us for life. Its a “Whats not to like?” spice that I don’t believe you can mess up to much when it is in it’s seed form. Now sesame seed oil is altogether a different story. To much of that can get you into trouble with your recipe.
There are two kinds of sesame seeds, white and black, and while black is used mainly for oil, they are both found in Indian and Mediterranean kitchens. If you have ever eaten hummus it is made with tahini which is a paste made from ground sesame seeds.
Sesame is one of the oldest spices on record going back to the Babylonians about 4000 years ago. It is another of the seeds found in the tombs of the Egyptian Pharaohs.
As a child, you learned that the famous phrase “Open Sesame” was the magical password that opened the entrance to the cave in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Once children learn the phrase, they run around saying it every time they get near one of those automatic doors in stores they visit with their parents. This phrase might be attributable to the fact that when they are ripe the sesame seeds burst from their pods with a sharp pop at the slightest touch.
Sesame seeds are a very good source of manganese and copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fiber. They also contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin which belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans. Lignans have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect and to help prevent high blood pressure.
Sesame seeds are extremely versatile and can be used in everything from baked goods to a garnish on pan fried scallops. They make a nice garnish on a tossed salad or on vegetables. You will find them on the top of some upscale health bars. I enjoy a fresh “everything” bagel and they are there along with a lot of other seeds and garlic. In fact if you have never had an everything bagel, treat yourself the next time you are near a
bagel shop. Years ago, there was a place in upstate New York on Hwy 22 I believe called “The Red Apple Rest’ they had the greatest assortment of cream cheese mixtures, but I would always get the garden vegetable cream cheese on an everything bagel. I haven’t been to New York in 20 years, and I do miss my deli sandwiches, and the occasional hot potato kinish on a cold afternoon. (neither of which have anything to do with sesame seeds, I’m just sharing a memory that started with the everything bagel)
Store sesame seeds in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator or freezer and they will last indefinitely. But leave them in a warm kitchen and they will turn rancid because they are an oil rich seed.
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Eat Healthy, Laugh Often and Enjoy Life~