Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why you should not buy tahini...and how to soak sesame and sunflower seeds...

I love tahini!  But after some recent reading about the high levels of phytic acid (read more here) in sesame seeds, I decided I really need to start to soak my sesame seeds along with all the nuts I already soak and dry.  And, in turn, start to make my own tahini.
Soaked sesame and sunflower seeds
Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that blocks mineral absorption and is found mostly in grains and nuts.  Our ancestors were pros at properly preparing their grains and seeds before consumption and I am happy to say, many of us are now re-learning these secrets.

Seeds soaking
Now, there are a lot of opinions on how to soak, how many times to rinse, and how to store your soaked sesame seeds.  After reading through a number of sites, I have decided to soak my sesame (and sunflower) seeds in water (you need to use glass bowls or if ceramic, you have to be sure that they are lead and cadmium free dishes) with a bit of pink salt for a total of 8 hours, rinsing them once at the 4 hour mark, and then again at 8 hours.  I then laid them out to dry in my dehydrator on parchment paper for around 6-8 hours.  They are stored in my freezer ready to be made into tahini or thrown in smoothies and other recipes.

For drying, I use one of my favorite kitchen tools: my square Excalibur dehydrator (with timer).  This is now one of my most used kitchen items.  I use it for making yogurt, drying nuts, and drying my fruits and vegetables.

(Featured on Traditional Foods)


  1. Gosh, I thought sesame seeds were low in phytic acid? :(

    1. From my research, sesame seeds are much higher in phytic acid than grains. Soaking helps reduce it as does roasting after you have soaked, so I will be toasting my sesame seeds before making tahini. I will try to make my own tahini soon and will post my results.

  2. I just bought raw sesame seeds for the same purpose. Was about to research how long to soak. Your site is the first one I came across. Thanks for the tips on freezing the sesame seeds after dehydrating. I couldn't imagine how to handle repeatedly soaking/dehydrating batches of sesame seeds every time I want to make 1 small recipe that requires tahini, yet can't make in bulk because it would go bad! I'm guessing if somebody can eat whey, that you could make fermented tahini that would last several months. Unfortunately, we can't have whey! So the tip to freeze ready to use seeds was definitely helpful.

    How did your home made tahini turn out? Did you just blend/food process the sesame seeds until getting a paste like consistency?

    1. Adding a little olive oil to reach the consistency you like is helpful.