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Sesame Seeds

Synonyms

  • Sesamum Indicum L.
  • Sesamum Africanum
  • Sesamum Brasiliense
  • Sesamum Luteum
  • Sesamum Malabaricum

Common Names

  • Sesame Seed
  • Benne Seed
  • Til
  • Sim Sim
  • Abongra
  • Hu Ma
  • Zhi Ma
  • Sesamzaad
  • Sesamo
  • Goma
  • Shiro Goma
  • Cham Kkae
  • Semilla De Ajonjolí
  • Sesam
  • Sésamo
  • Sezam Indyjski
  • Graines De Sesame
  • Sésame Blanc

Family

Pedaliaceae (Unicorn Plant Family)

Introduction

Sesame seeds are tiny, flat oval seeds with a nutty taste and a delicate, almost invisible crunch. They come in a host of different colors, depending upon the variety, including white, yellow, black and red. Sesame seeds have a nutty, sweet aroma with a milk-like, buttery taste. Sesame comes mainly from India; sesame seed is one of the first recorded seasonings. It grows widely in India and Asia. This annual herb can grow as high as seven feet tall, though most plants range two to four feet.

The white to lavendar-pink flowers, similar in appearance to foxglove, mature into pods containing the edible sesame seeds which burst with a pop when the small seeds are mature. Since this process scatters the seeds, the pods are often harvested by hand before they are fully ripe. Sesame seed hulls are often removed since they contain 2 to 3 percent oxalic acid, which can interfere with the absorption of calcium and give a bitter flavor. There are two crops in a year; monsoon and summer. In monsoon, crop sowing takes place in July and harvest in October, where as in summer crop sowing takes place in January and harvest in May.

In harvesting sesame seeds, first the plant stalks are cut and stacked vertically. Each stalk is shaken over a cloth to catch the seeds that fly out from mature pods. At places sorting is done manually but lately with arrival of sortex machines this is done automatically. The pear shaped seed itself is encased in a fibrous hull that offers a range of colour from tan to red, brown and even black. The hulled seeds with the hulls (skin) removed are an ivory white. Seed is 1/8 inch in length and 1/20 of an inch thick and is endowed with depth of flavour. White coloured sesame seeds become dull white if it rains just before harvest. Z black sesame seeds are available in monsoon crop only.

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