In the Middles East, we call this sesame paste “t’hina”. This word describes, both in Hebrew and Arabic, the act of grinding, referring to the process of transforming sesame seeds- the main ingredient of tahini- into an oily paste.
In ancient times, sesame seeds used to be a major crop in the Middle East, but today the best sesame seeds are grown in Ethiopia. The seeds undergo various preparation steps starting with the pre-cleaning of the natural seeds, and continuing with hulling, washing, roasting, post-cleaning, and finally, color sorting before being grinded into a paste.
The best places to buy tahini is in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean grocery stores or markets. Tahini is free from any preservative or additive, and it retains its quality for two years following its production day. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but only to be stored in a cold and dry place; its stability is due to the presence of powerful antioxidants naturally found in sesame seeds.
More than 50% of the sesame seed content is oil, and a thick layer of oil naturally forms when the sesame paste sits. All it needs is a quick stir before it’s used.
In Sweet Tahini, we use Alkanater Tahini, a product made in Lebanon. It is known around the world for its high quality, excellent aroma, and for having a high iron content compared to other brands.
* This post's intended to clarify that we are not grinding our own tahini, but using a store bought.
Alkanater brand is my (Hila Krikov, owner) personal recommendation.
I am not working for Alkanater and don't benefit from this post in any way.