Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are small, flat, oval seeds with a nutty taste. These seeds come in many colors, depending on the variety, including white, red, black and yellow. The flavorful seeds inside the sesame hull are valued for high oil content and are an excellent source of protein, iron and potassium. But like most things, these seeds must be 'unwrapped' before being enjoyed. The process of hulling, as it is called, consists of shucking the shell off to enjoy the seed inside.

About Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds were brought from Africa to the United States in the late 17th century. The seeds may be the oldest condiment known and can be traced back as early at 1600 BC. They are mentioned in Hundu legends and are thought to have originated in India, although the seeds can also be traced back to ancient Egyptian times from a tomb painting of a baker adding seeds to bread dough.

Wet and Dry Dehulling

The commercial shelling of sesame seeds uses the "wet de-hulling" process. This process has been developed to soften and easily remove the shell from the sesame seed. Machines are used for preliminary cleaning and grinding, hot lye treatment, removal of the skin and pigments, and washing and drying, until the shells can be fed through a vertical machine that easily peels the shell from the seed.

At home, you can use a form of the wet de-hulling process by leaving the sesame seeds to soak in tap water overnight. This softens and loosens the husks so that the seeds can be easily removed by hand.

Alternatively, use what is called the "dry de-hulling" process combined with the "clash" method. The dry de-hulling process consists of cleaning the seed, then allowing it to dry overnight. Drying the shell allows it to become dehydrated and brittle. Then the clash method is used to get the seed out, which involves lightly pounding the shell so that it breaks open. You then remove the seed from the shell.

Serving Ideas

Sesame Seeds can be used in a plethora of things, including baking, salads and main dishes. For example, next time you make bread, muffins or cookies, add crushed sesame seeds to the batter to create a nutty flavor. When making steamed vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower, sprinkle on some sesame seeds with a bit of lemon juice. Combine rice vinegar, finely chopped garlic and toasted sesame seeds with rice vinegar to make a healthy dressing for salads or noodles. Or, sautee chicken with garlic, ginger, vegetables and sesame seeds for a quick, Asian-style dinner.