What is sesame seed?

Sesamum indicum L.

Family: Pedaliaceae

Also known as simsim.

What is sesame seed?

Sesame seeds are small flattened obovoid seeds of the species Sesamum indicum. They are used for oil, flavouring or as an ingredient in various cuisines.

The colour of the seeds vary, depending on the cultivar and can be white, ivory, grey, beige, brown, red or black.

Sesame seeds are very small (2-3mm long). 1000 seeds weigh only 2–4 g. They have one of the highest oil contents of any seed.

The Sesame Plant

Black Sesame Seeds myfavouritepastime.com

Sesame plant is an annual herb up to 2m (6.5ft) tall with a taproot up to 90cm long. (PROTA) It’s one of the oldest oilseed crops known, domesticated well over 3000 years ago. (WIKI)

Many cultivars of sesame exist. They are distinguished by their branching habit, leaf morphology, fruit dehiscence, and seed colour (white, ivory, grey, beige, brown, red and black.

The fruit is a many seeded oblong-quadrangular, capsule 1.5–3 cm long. It’s hairy, with a short triangular beak at apex and grey-brown at maturity. It splits open along the sutures to release the seeds, when mature.

Green Sesame Fruits split open to show seeds

Production of Sesame Seeds

Tanzania and India are the largest producers, followed by, Sudan, China Myanmar and Nigeria FAO 2014.

Sesame Oil

Toasted Sesame OIl myfavouritepastime.com

Refined sesame oil is clear, pale yellow with a nutty flavour. It’s sometimes mixed with other oils and used for cooking.

The toasted oil has a deep brown colour, more or less similar to honey.  It has a very strong flavour and aroma and is used sparingly in cooking especially stir-fries.


100g (3.5oz) provides: water 3.8 g, 631 calories, protein 20.5 g, fat 60.2 g, carbohydrate 11.7 g and dietary fibre 11.6 g.

Culinary Use

Tahini myfavoritepastime.com 
  • Sesame seeds, paste and oil are utilized in a very wide range of edible products.
  • Sesame seeds are used as an ingredient in many cuisines.
  • Africa: the seeds are used as an ingredient in soups or ground to make a sauce.
  • Sesame seeds are crushed to produce an edible paste called Tahini
  • The toasted seeds are mixed with caramelized sugar, formed into shapes and eaten as a snack.
  • The seeds are sprinkled on bread, bagels, buns, cookies and other baked goods before baking. Also used in cakes.
  • Refined sesame oil can be used like any other oil for cooking. Toasted oil is used in stir-fries and salads.
  • Sesame oil is used in the manufacture of margarine and compound cooking fats.
  • Poor grades of oil are used in the production of soaps, paints, lubricants and lamp-oil.

Sesame Allergy

Sesame may cause a not very common but serious food allergy from seed proteins. The allergy develops mostly during adolescence or in adults and is progressive. (PROTA)

Black Sesame Seeds myfavouritepastime.com


Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

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