I just got over a week-long cold, and I feel as if I fell into some time wormhole thingamajig, and have only just fallen back into the world. Of course I know only a week has gone by, but I feel as if in my little time-wormhole-space (ie. my room, where I lived burrowed in my bed for 12 - 16 hours a day) months have gone by. Like I just had my own Doctor Who episode, with timeywhimey stuff, but thankfully no murderous vacuum cleaner aliens.
Several times during my spell of sickness, I attempted to write this post and tell people about the wonderful awesomeness that is tahini, which seems to have taken the place of peanut butter in my life - is that even possible? But alas, I was a wretched, whiny creature, and my appetite was so diminished that even writing about food didn't appeal to me. And so I watched a lot of ABC Family television. It seemed like a good choice at the time. Please don't judge me, I was ill.
But I am finally feeling like a human again: I can taste things, I can breathe easily, my face doesn't feel like it weighs fifty pounds, and so I rejoice - with tahini. And to think that at one time I didn't even like tahini! I couldn't get past the bitterness that always seemed to linger on the tongue after tasting it. But then I gave it a few more tries, and now I can't seem to get by without it. It's rich, nutty, and on toast with a little honey, it is absolutely divine.
The thing I love most about tahini, though, is its versatility. It can be used in sweet or savoury dishes and goes well with so many things. Cumin, honey, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and lemon are some of my favourite flavours to pair with it. And tahini isn't just great with a lot of flavours, it's a wonderful addition to all different types of dishes and condiments, like salad dressings, granola bars, hummus, soup, and even egg salad.
So naturally, I wanted to try making my own tahini, and as the preparation is the same as it is with any homemade nut butter, which is easy enough, there was no reason not to give it a go. What I realized, though, was that the tahini sold in the stores is made from hulled sesame seeds, which is why it's so light in colour, and while I love this version of tahini, I wanted to make it with unhulled sesame seeds for the extra nutrients. I am still a health nut, after all.
Tahini made from unhulled sesame seeds is darker in colour and thicker in texture. It won't be runny like the store-bought tahini, but similar in texture to almond butter. It can still be used in recipes like any other kind of tahini, but in some recipes you may find you'll want to add a bit more liquid to compensate for its thickness.
Making tahini at home is easier, and quicker, than you think! And making it with unhulled sesame seeds instead of the usual hulled variety makes it that much healthier, giving it an extra boost of fibre, calcium, zinc, iron, and phosphorous. Look for unhulled sesame seeds in health food or bulk food stores - they're light brown in colour, unlike the hulled seeds, which are a creamy white.
2 - 4 cups Unhulled Sesame Seeds
Yields about 1 cup of tahini for every 2 cups of seeds.
1. Dry-roast the sesame seeds in a skillet over medium-low heat, until they're fragrant and slightly darker in colour. I recommend toasting 1 cup of seeds at a time, but you may wish to add more or less depending on the size of your skillet. Be patient, and be careful not to burn them! (I got impatient and turned up the heat the first time - and burned a whole cup of sesame seeds. I cried tears of sorrow.)
2. In a blender or food processor, add the toasted sesame seeds and process on high, pausing to scrape down with a spatula as needed, until a smooth paste forms. This step can take anywhere from 6 - 12 minutes. Depending on the size of your blender or food processor, you may want to do this in batches. I used a blender (1.25L) and found the best results from blending 1 1/2 cups at a time.
3. Store tahini in a airtight container or jar in the fridge. It will keep for weeks on end. I say that because I don't exactly know how long it will lasts, because I always consume mine IN SECONDS (kidding, I do have some restraint. Some.), but I do know it will last a long time. Not that it should, because you should eat and enjoy it with joy.