- You can find Tahini paste in the aisle with Middle Eastern ethnic foods, oils, or condiments. It’s typically located near the store’s almond or peanut butter section.
- You can always ask the grocery store attendant for assistance if you find it challenging to locate tahini in their store.
What is Tahini, and What is it used for?
Tahini is a thick, sweet and nutty flavor paste made from ground sesame seeds. While its primary ingredient is sesame seeds, some brands contain additional oils, salts, and other ingredients to give them a unique taste.
Tahini is pretty much the peanut butter of the Middle East. It can be used as an ingredient in traditional Middle Eastern hummus or baba ghanoush. Also, it can be used in dips, sauces, and salad dressings.
What are the Types of Tahini?
Tahini paste comes in two types of Tahini: hulled and unhulled. While the hulled tahini has the outer shells of the sesame seeds removed, the unhulled one has its outer shell intact. Hulled tahini pastes are paler and creamier and usually contain less fiber. However, the entire sesame seed is present in unhulled tahini, giving it a slightly more bitter taste, with more fiber and less cream – which means it contains more nutrients.
Tahini paste is either delivered raw or roasted. While the latter is slightly darker in color and has a more pungent taste with fewer nutrients, the former is more or less the opposite. Coloring typically ranges from lightly sandy to deep brown, and you’d guess right if you think that light-colored tahini is made from hulled sesame seeds.
Where can I find Tahini?
Tahini is quite common in most grocery stores, especially those that feature ingredients for global cuisines and humus. More so, it is easier to see it in the Middle Eastern markets, so keep an eye out for supermarkets that mark aisles in this manner.
You can find Tahini paste in the aisle with Middle Eastern ethnic foods, oils, or condiments. It’s typically located near the store’s almond or peanut butter section. It’s got a paste-like consistency, so it’s a no-brainer to find it in this section of grocery stores.
How to Store Tahini
You can store tahini in the refrigerator to keep it fresh for frequent use and in a freezer if it isn’t part of any recipe for a while. While that’s the case, tahini is best served fresh and warm – that’s why it’s not kept in the fridge in stores. Also, you want to always stir before every use to get any separated oil back into the tahini paste. Keeping tahini for many weeks can make the oils rancid over time, so ensure you taste it before adding it as a recipe in any new dish.
How to make Home Made Tahini
So what if your local grocery store doesn’t have tahini in stock, and you really need one to prepare dinner? It would help to know how to make it yourself. If you’re the DIY type, you may find it an easy process – there are not many moving parts to it, so you should do just fine.
First, depending on your taste, you need to get some sesame seeds, virgin oil, and salt. These ingredients can be found at a regular supermarket or health-food store.
To make 1 1/2 cups of tahini, you’d want to follow these steps
- Add 2 1/2 cups of sesame seeds to a baking sheet.
- Heat up in an oven at 350⁰F. Stir every few minutes until fragrant – usually, 10 – 15 minutes would do.
- Transfer cooled sesame seeds to a blender, and add 3/4 cup of oil – preferably sesame oil or any virgin oil.
- Blend until you get the thick paste – usually, 2-5 minutes of blending would do.
- If necessary, add extra oil and blend to mix again. This stage is also where you’d add your salt depending on your taste.
Possible Substitutes for Tahini Paste
Sometimes you just can’t find the exact ingredient that’s part of a recipe, and you need to improvise to get the dish done. In the case of making foods that have to deal with tahini, there is some really nice alternative that’ll work just right.
Tahini is a paste made from seeds; nut kinds of butter can serve are good replacements. Peanut butter, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butter can be great substitutes in cases where tahini isn’t available. While that’s the case, you want to opt for jars without artificial sweeteners to get the best effect. Also, adding a few drops of sesame oil (if present) can give you that desired tahini flavor.
Having worked in a grocery store in the past, I thought it wise to pen down a few things that you might be interested to know about shopping and navigating your way around the store.