Tahini is so good. It has a smoky, nutty flavour that works well in so many dishes – sweet and savoury. I use tahini in salad dressings, in sauces, on eggs (in fact I had this homemade tahini on eggs this morning and I will describe these awesome eggs below), in dips, in brownies, in slices and even in my coconut milk ‘ice cream’. So I thought it was about time I had a go at making my own. It turns out it is very easy and the texture is great too. I actually prefer the texture of my homemade tahini to the store bought tahini. Here are the steps:
Step 1: Oven roast your sesame seeds at 160°C for about 15 minutes or until they start to turn golden brown. Do this on a silicon based baking tray or line a baking tray with baking paper. I started with 1 and a ½ cups of sesame seeds and this produced half a jar. Next time I would go with at least 2 cups because I figure if I am going to put in that effort then I may as well make a decent amount.
Step 2: Add the roasted sesame seeds to a food processor and process until the sesame seeds, basically, turn into tahini. You will need to scrape the sides of the food processor with a spoon during this process. This took no longer than 10 minutes (I wasn’t timing to be honest).
Step 3: Pour your delicious tahini into a clean jar and enjoy!
Not only is tahini delicious and versatile, but it also has beneficial properties. Sesame seeds contain about 50% fat, predominantly in the form of the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) linoleic acid (1, 2). PUFAs have been shown to have cardiovascular protective effects (3). Be mindful, however, that due to the high fat content of sesame seeds, tahini is high in calories (like all nut and seed butters), so if you are actively trying to lose weight I suggest you limit the amount you eat. As well as the oil, sesame seeds also contain about 20% protein, a range of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron and vitamin B. The most interesting compounds in sesame seeds are the sesame lignans, which include sesamin, sesamolin and sesaminol. I have previously talked about these lignans in my post ‘Low carb bibimbap’. Research into these lignans has shown that they display antioxidant properties (4), meaning these compounds can scavenge free radicals, which are believed to contribute to life style diseases such as circulatory disorders and aging. Additionally, research conducted on lignans has shown serum lipid lowering and cholesterol lowering effects in experimental animals (5-7) and humans (8).
So you are probably wondering about the cost. Did I save money by making my own tahini? Well I paid $9.00/kg for sesame seeds and I used about 250 grams ($2.25) to make approximately half a jar. I normally pay $5.10 for a full jar of tahini, so I could potentially save myself 60 cents per jar. 60 cents does not sound like much but I buy a jar of tahini almost every fortnight, so that is $15.60 a year. If I could buy sesame seeds even cheaper then I could save even more. Will I continue to make my own tahini? If I have the time then yes, I probably would as I quite enjoyed the process and I enjoyed the texture. Plus there was no added oil – just sesame seeds. I had scrambled eggs, vegetables and lentils this morning with my delicious homemade tahini on top, along with cottage cheese, extra sesame seeds, salt, pepper and some homemade fermented sweet chilli sauce – similar to sriracha. I may post this recipe soon. Have a go at making tahini. You will be impressed.
- Beroza M & Kinman ML (1955) Sesamin, sesamolin and sesamol content of the oil of sesame seed as affected by strain, location growth, aging, and frost damage. J Am Oil Chem Soc 32:348-350.
- Chen P, et al. (2005) Dietary sesame reduces serum cholesterol and enhances antioxidant capacity in hypercholesterolemia. Nutr Res 25:559-567.
- Morris MC (1994) Dietary fats and blood pressure. Journal of cardiovascular risk 1(1):21-30.
- Fukuda Y, Nagate M, Osawa T, & Namiki M (1986) Chemical aspects of the antioxidative activity of unroasted sesame seed oil and the effect of using the oil for frying. Agri Biol Chem 50:857.
- Hirose N, et al. (1991) Inhibition of cholesterol absorption and synthesis in rats by sesamin. Journal of lipid research 32(4):629-638.
- Ide T, et al. (2001) Sesamin, a sesame lignan, decreases fatty acid synthesis in rat liver accompanying the down-regulation of sterol regulatory element binding protein-1. Biochimica et biophysica acta 1534(1):1-13.
- Sugano M, et al. (1990) Influence of sesame lignans on various lipid parameters in rats. Agric Biol Chem Tokyo 54:2669-2673.
- Alipoor B, Haghighian MK, Sadat BE, & Asghari M (2012) Effect of sesame seed on lipid profile and redox status in hyperlipidemic patients. International journal of food sciences and nutrition 63(6):674-678.