The bare bones of the plants we eat

Sesame seeds

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Scientific name – Sesamum indicum

White and black cultivars of Sesame seed (although brown, yellow or even violet seeds can be found also). Different varieties vary in their taste and quantities of sesame oil they contain. Seeds may be toasted to enhance their flavour.

The seeds come in a wide variety of colours, from White through golden to brown, violet or even blackened are a feature of Asian cooking. They are ground into a thick paste known as Tahini which is the key component of hummus, so popular today as a spread or dip. The seeds are also ground to make a popular sweet confection in Greece, Israel and Turkey called halvah. In Japan they are used to make a condiment called Gomassio or Gomoshio. The latter can easily be made at home by toasting the seeds and then crushing in a mortar using a pestle and adding a little sea salt to the ratio of one part salt to five parts sesame seeds. Toasted seeds have a distinctive nutty flavour, while un-toasted seeds can be added to salads or used as the basis for a popular cooking oil, most commonly found in Asian recipes. Rather like poppy seeds they can also be sprinkled on Bradshaw and cakes for added flavour, texture and nutrition. Sesame seeds sprinkled on buns are an essential part of any hamburger! In eastern Asia sesame seed balls are a popular treat and today in health food stores sesames snack bars are equally popular.