I tried making tahini with unhulled sesame seeds in my 2007 VitaMix. Disaster. I literally spent 46 minutes — yes, I timed it — trying to get it to work, continually scraping and blending, etc.
Here are some pictures on how to easier identify hulled from unhulled:
Hulled sesame seeds have their outer shells removed. They are sometimes referred to as just sesame seeds or as “white” sesame seeds. This makes the smoothest butter, or “tahini,” and is what is most often found creamed, jarred in stores.
Unhulled sesame seeds maintain their shells. Referred to as “brown” sesame seeds or “whole” sesame seeds. More nutritious than white, they also carry a bit of bitterness from their shells. Rinsing and draining alleviates much of that tannic flavor.
The third type of sesame, is the beautiful black
Black sesame is the most nutritious of the three. It tastes slightly different; some think it’s stronger.
Hulled sesame butter is easy peasy and is actually done quite easily in a food processor, as I demonstrated previously. Above, you see it makes a nice thick butter. The easy flowing tahinis you find in stores have oil added.
Unhulled, with the VitaMix, proved more difficult (The following were unhulled, soaked, with and without added water):
This is actually not too bad even with quite a bit of texture; but it still has a lot of whole seeds.
Even tried with unhulled black sesame seeds (VitaMix):
Tried with my dependable Blendtec…
Still lots of whole seeds that just don’t want to blend!
However, the good news is, it’s not really so big a deal to have some texture, depending on your recipe. You can still use these chunky butters! If, for example, you are making a dressing or hummous, it will blend up quite nicely with the other ingredients, and it seems to lose its texture. I made a dressing with it and it came out smooth. But this shows why the nut and seed butters in stores contain added oil — though they do not have to list it as an ingredient — they need it to get that creamy smooth texture. It’s a similar process with my precious, beloved coconut BUTTER (It is not oil though Artisana says they do not add oil to theirs), oil is added to coconut and other butters in order to cream them because some are VERY, VERY fibrous; and it is impossible to get a creamy emulsion simply blending (confirmed via email on several brands, despite how the advertising “sounds”) I’d like to try, however, in my juicer sometime…hmmm…:)
Next, I decided, against the odds, to give the processor a try
~ My recommendation is to not add water or liquids to any, which includes not using wet, soaked seeds ~
The water diminishes the flavor and, in my opinion, does something…well, weird to the texture.
Okay, now here’s the zinger –
My little Personal Blender did a better job!
Check it out…
Results for unsoaked, unhulled dry brown sesame seeds…
Pretty darn good! Whoa, much better than the power blenders. No whole seeds left in just a few minutes of blending!
Of course, it makes small amounts only. This is actually better, in my opinion, because it’s not good to keep buttered seeds and nuts stored for long periods anyway. This way, you can make and use small amounts and not have to pay high prices for a large jar, when you only really need small amounts.
The Personal Blender, aka “Tribest Personal Blender” is similar to a “Magic Bullet” and other such small blenders. They are even less powerful than some coffee grinders! If you have such a blender or small grinder give it a try.
~ Be sure to use the flat blade for buttering. ~
Now, don’t expect it to be exactly creamy smooth like the storebought UNLESS you add oil. And, really, unhulled seeds are, naturally never going to render as smooth as hulled because they have all their fiber in the stead of more seed and oil. Even my store-bought black tahini isn’t completely smooth, and, in fact, one manufacturer even states that because it is unhulled, it is not as smooth (can’t recall which brand that was).
~ * ~
NOW, I don’t particularly like the idea of not pre-soaking because there is the bitterness in the brown sesame hulls, which some don’t like (and which may contribute to inadequate absorption of its nutrients). So I thought I’d try soaking and sprouting to see if this improved the small blender tahini texturally and flavorwise.
The good news about sprouting sesame is that it takes only a few hours of soaking! SproutPeople instructs as short as 2 hours and up to 8. Since they are small, you don’t want to drown them . They also say that just the soak and allowing them to dry is enough to remove the enzyme inhibitors, meaning you don’t have to do the rinse, drain, rinse drain over days to get increased nutrition and remove most of the bitterness, and if you don’t want to sprout them. I decided to soak for 4 hours and sprout them at least a full day, then let them dry. (Note: white, hulled sesame seeds cannot be sprouted)
So it went like so:
Soak for 4 hours.
Drain, rinse; spread onto cheesecloth or other sprouting surface to sprout. Be sure if your surface has holes such as a mesh, they are not too large that the tiny sesame seeds fall through! You’ll be very frustrated (and curse me!) if you lose them all on the floor
Rinse and drain as needed (depending on environmental/weather conditions) 2-4 or more hours till bedtime.
Just sprout until you see a tiny tail emerge or a small bud. They get bitter very quickly; so the smaller the sprout the better.
Let them dry out, and use right away, or store in the refrigerator and use within a couple days. You can also thoroughly dry them with a dehydrator and keep for long storage. I’d probably leave them in the fridge or freezer, but if *completely* dry can be kept in a cool, dry place.
Soak for 4 hours…
Then rinse well again. Final drain….
Spread out to sprout for 24 hours or till tiny sprouts or buds appear…
Here’s a closeup…
Cutie little sprouts!
Same for the Black…
Lay out to sprout –here I used cheesecloth:
closer look …
After that final rinse, they should be left to dry out before blending or before storing.
If you wish to speed up drying after the last rinse, then you can put them outside (make sure it’s not windy!), covered, or in a place with good air flow. I like to dry my sprouted seeds in the dehydrator at a very low temp — like 80- to 90-degrees — which is just quicker and more convenient.
Okey Dokey, now they’re ready! Let’s see what happens…
Into the small blender with the flat blade go they…
Blend ‘er up…
Couple a scrape downs…
Excellent! Within seconds, all the seeds are blended. They seem to have benefited from the sprouting process, as well: The taste was better, having rinsed and sprouted off the bitterness.
Only stones left unturned — I tell ya, this has been a pain! — now are, one, to try large batch of sprouted and dried seeds in the power blenders, and, two, giving the power juicer a whirl.
So here again are the keys to good-tasting, creamier unhulled sesame butter or tahini:
Organic, fresh whole unhulled seeds
Creaming in small batches
Using a small blender with the flat blade
*If you don’t want to sprout, it will still work (as I demonstrated above), following all the other steps, but will render a more “toothy,” textured butter: It will not leave any whole seeds.
There you go. Mystery solved The rinky-dink little blender out performs the power blenders! Enjoy your hulled white OR unhulled, brown, or black, home-prepared sesame butters and tahinis!