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The seeds that sesame oil and tahini come from are the seeds of an herb grown from the Middle East through India into the Far East. The most common are buff colored, but they range from white to red to black. Raw sesame seeds have a silky, nutty flavor that intensifies with toasting. They can be purchased roasted, but I prefer to buy them raw and toast them myself. You can roast the seeds by placing them in a large skillet over medium-high heat. As they begin to heat, shake the pan often and watch carefully—once they begin to turn brown, they cook very quickly.
As with most seeds, sesame seeds have a lot of fat in them. There is little saturated fat and a fair amount of monounsaturated fat, making them good for you. Because of the high fat content, they will turn rancid quickly. Keep them in a cool place covered tightly and try to use them within 6 months. They will keep in the freezer for up to a year. Most health food stores carry them in bulk, so you can buy a smaller amount.
1 tsp. sesame seeds = 17 calories, 1.5g fat, <1g sat fat, 0.5g mono fat, 0g protein, 0g carbohydrates, 0mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol