Humans have been consuming black sesame for thousands of years. It’s used in Traditional Chinese Medicine TCM for reversing hair graying and promoting hair growth. In the Middle East and the Mediterraneans, black sesame is used for making a version of tahini known as black tahini.
While you can read all about the health benefits of black sesame around the web, we want to shed more light on what makes black sesame healthy and tasty, and by those measures, how our products differentiate from other similar ones.
It’s all in the oil
Black sesame seeds contain a variety of beneficial minerals, natural antioxidants, and dietary fiber, but its health value comes mainly from its richness in polyunsaturated fats (oils), which make up approximately 50% in composition of the black sesame seeds.
Throughout the entire production process of our Black Sesame Powders, each step is designed and optimized to preserve and extract this goodness. We’ll walk you through starting from our raw materials.
Hull on or hull off?
Black sesame seeds naturally come with an outer coat or hull. Many black sesame powders on the market are made from black sesame seeds that still have the hull on. Some are even made from grinding the hulls. The hulls contain oxalic acid, which give them a bitter taste. So as you can imagine, powders made from “hull-on” black sesame will have a bland and bitter taste. The more the proportion of hull, the less the proportion of oil, and as we know it’s the sesame oil from which we derive the wonderful black sesame benefits and their tasty nutty flavours.
There are many ways that sesame hulls can be removed. From the beginning, we worked directly with our suppliers to develop a unique shuixi water based dehulling process that results in a premium, high oil proportion black sesame. These are then used to further make our Black Sesame Powders.
(By the way, contrary to what some internet articles may suggest, white sesame seed is not simply black sesame seed with the hull off! They are different varieties!)
Roasted or Toasted?
While black sesame powder can be made by grinding raw black sesame seeds, most people prefer to roast them first. The traditional way to roast black sesame seeds is to heat them over a large wok or pot, sometimes over direct fire. This gives off a fragrant black sesame aroma, which is great if you’re planning to consume them straight away, but not if you’re planning to further process and package them for later. Why not? Because the aromas come in fact from the extraction and evaporation of the sesame oils. The result is seeds with oil exposed on the surface (affecting shelf life), and with flavours partially loss to evaporation.
Our roasting technique involves the use of professional-grade tunnel ovens with multiple heating zones to ensure that the sesame oils are extracted but not exposed and not loss to evaporation. The evenly and delicately roasted seeds are then ready for the milling step.
From seed to powder
The final step before packaging is to transform roasted black sesame seeds into black sesame powder. While pestle and mortar would make for great artisan spirit and imagery, professional food companies use modern machinery for controlled manufacturing. A variety of powder milling machines are commonly used, which typically operate on the basis of grinding the sesame seeds into powder form.
However, there’s more than just crushing up the seeds into the powder. What might be counter-intuitive is that during the milling process we need to do our best to prevent damage! As we saw before, it’s important to keep the prized black sesame oil intact while processing the seeds, so merely shredding or grinding them up releases a lot of the oil (unless the black sesame seeds don’t contain much oil to begin with).
Our Black Sesame Powders are ground delicately under special conditions to maximize retention of the natural oils. Numerous experiments were done before we settled on the current mesh size (powder particle size) to achieve an ever so soft coarseness and texture. We hope you’ll try for yourself and taste the rich nutty black sesame flavours melt softly in your mouth!