Sesame Butter/Tahini Redux…

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:

white-hulled-sesame-seeds_ (12) - Copy

“hulled,” “shelled,” white sesame seeds

Brown_sesame-seeds_unhulled_soaked - Copy

“unhulled”, “unshelled,” “whole” “brown” sesame seeds


white-hulled-sesame-seeds_ (8)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.

sesame-seeds_quarter-cup (3)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-Seeds_quarterC (6) - Copy

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):

tahini-Brown_fini (3)

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):

black-sesame-scrape-blender (6)

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


No go 😦


~ 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 —

Tribest_personal-blender (3)

My little Personal Blender did a better job!

Check it out…

Results for unsoaked, unhulled dry brown sesame seeds…

brown-sesame_tahini_sm-blender_no-soak_fini (3)

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.

flat-blade_blender~ 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.



sesame_unhulled_rinse (2)

Soak for 4 hours…

sesame_unhulled_soak (3)



Then rinse well again.  Final drain….

Brown_sesame-seeds_unhulled_soaked (19)

Spread out to sprout for 24 hours or till tiny sprouts or buds appear…


Here’s a closeup…

Sesame_sprouts (9)

Cutie little sprouts! 😀

Same for the Black…


black-sesame_rinse (2)


black_sesame_1-C_soak (5)


black-sesame_drain (3)

Lay out to sprout –here I used cheesecloth:

Black-Sesame_soaked_sprout_cheesecloth (3)


black-Sesame_sprout_rinse_cheesecloth (2)


Black-sesame-seed_sprouts (4)

closer look :D…

Black-sesame-seed_sprouts (9)

Black Beauties!


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:

unhulled-sesame_sprouted_fini (2)

Organic, fresh whole unhulled seeds




Drying, thoroughly

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!


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  1. June 13, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    HI strix,

    I’ve found that blending the rinsed unhulled seeds with other things works well. For example, I sometimes blend them in with steamed rutabaga and lemon juice for a sauce, or with blueberries & pomogranate juice for a dressing. So I’m not trying to make the sesame butter only.

    Those black seeds look interesting! I’ve not seen them in my co-op.


  2. June 13, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    HI strix,

    I’ve found that blending the rinsed unhulled seeds with other things works well. For example, I sometimes blend them in with steamed rutabaga and lemon juice for a sauce, or with blueberries & pomogranate juice for a dressing. So I’m not trying to make the sesame butter only.

    Those black seeds look interesting! I’ve not seen them in my co-op.


  3. Anon said,

    June 17, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Wow, you just saved me a few days of experimenting. Thanks!!
    This site is just chock full of practical wisdom.

    • poxacuatl said,

      June 18, 2009 at 8:00 am

      Hi, Anon 🙂 Make sure to see the other post on making tahini with white seeds, if you’d rather not go through the sprouting for using brown seeds.

      It’s linked in the post, but here it is again: Tahini, Homemade, using hulled sesame seeds

  4. Ron said,

    October 3, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    What a wonderful and useful study in the creation of sesame butter! I thank you; you should be mighty proud of what you have presented.

  5. nyginko said,

    September 12, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Question about raw sesame butter and “toasting” seeds after they’ve been rinsed, soaked,
    dried? I’ve heard that some of the goodness from sesame seeds comes after they’ve been
    lightly toasted. What do you think? I have tried toasting them lightly after rinsing them,
    soaking them, then rinsing again and setting out to dry enough to “toast” slightly. This does bring out a special tastiness. – nyginko

    • Strix said,

      September 13, 2010 at 7:04 am

      Hi! Yes, there is a very special flavor to nuts and seeds when toasted/roasted, especially sesame. It’s a unique flavor. I think it is delicious, yes, but I avoid toasting as it destroys the nutrients; however, in small amounts, I don’t see it as a huge problem. It’s better to toast some seeds once in a while than to use roasted oil!

      High heat on foods creates acrylamides which is linked to cancer; so limiting roasting, toasting, barbecuing, baking at high temperatures, etc. is best.

  6. nyginko said,

    September 12, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Though, I almost forgot, when the little black ones sprout, they have a lovely taste without
    the toasting. Mostly I try to grow them. One year I watched them grow, flower, form pods
    and seeds. What a wonderful plant!

    • Strix said,

      September 13, 2010 at 7:06 am

      wow, neat! I’ve never tried them that way. They grew into greens?! How did they taste? Or were they just for looks? 🙂

  7. nyginko said,

    September 15, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    The sprouted seeds grew into a pod bearing plant about two or three feet tall. This was the summer before this summer in a clay pot on an urban “balcony garden.” This year I tried again, but used the wrong seeds. By the time I realized my error the summer was mostly gone, so now I have several sprouts that have started to grow (they’re about three inches tall) but I think theyneed the neat of the summer which is now pretty much gone for this year.

  8. nyginko said,

    September 16, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    The suggestion I’d read was “to toast lightly.” And recently I checked several small bottles of sesame seed oil that were in my “pantry” closet. These were purchased last spring. I re-read the fine print and one label described the purity of their pressing process and the very careful l i g h t toasting. It was very interesting. When I held the two bottles up to the light I could see the difference in the colors and the quality.
    I’m really glad to get this all straightened out.
    Thank you so much for this wonderful page on the sesame!
    Now to blend the whole cup of rinsed and sprouted blk. sesame seeds (Shiloh Farms – raw organic and untoasted.) They are already sprouted and are sitting for a while in a jar in the refrigerator. I’ll rinse them and dry them and then blend them!

    • Strix said,

      September 18, 2010 at 6:14 am

      Let me know how it goes! And tell me what you do with it 🙂
      Good to know the Shiloh Farms brand is raw and will sprout.

  9. nyginko said,

    September 19, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I’ve re-read all that you’ve written here after a very messy morning trying to put the sprouted blk sesame seeds into my Champion Juicer with both kinds of screens. I had set aside more seeds to soak and sprout than I had time for. And I didn’t bide by the instruction not to grind or blend them wet. All that you’ve written was on the mark!
    Usually I ‘ve been mixing blk sesame and flax seeds (ground in my own little nut and seed grinder (a Cuisinart) with herbs or veggies to make dehydrated flax crackers which I have enjoyed.
    btw last year’s black sesame seed plant grew tall and had a very strong sturdy stem, pod, and a beautiful flower. It was really worththewhile to see it grow, flower and make a pod and seeds.

    • nyginko said,

      September 20, 2010 at 7:48 am

      You asked how I’ve used blk. sesame?
      I have prepared blk. sesame for making dehydrated seed and grain crackers, I rinse, soak, rinse and DRY them before grinding ( with i.e. UNsoAKed flax, ) then I soak with lilquid (perhaps a raw fresh veg. broth.) This time I left the blk.sesame soaking too long. As you wrote, these ought to be left to DRY before trying to blend them. I also had difficulty with trying to blend wet sprouted quinoa.
      MYLK: In addition to making dehydrated crackers I’ve been adding blk sesame to mixed seed, nut, and grain mixes for cereal and “milk.” i.e. sunflr., almond., sesame, rice, oat, quinoa, ….)

    • Strix said,

      September 22, 2010 at 7:22 am

      Ah, interesting! I was so sure a Champion would work…I know my old single-auger juicer made yummy coconut butter. Unfortunately, it finally broke! I haven’t been able to try the black sesame that way, but I hope to. I think it will work if the seeds are dry. The unhulled brown and black sesame seeds are more work than other butters!

      The crackers sound good. If I use flax, I also grind it; I don’t like the texture if used just soaked.

  10. nyginko said,

    September 22, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Now I, too, will be using the little seed and nut grinder for small quantities of flax seed, and I’ll use it again for the blk sesame seeds next time after 1) I soak, dry, and toast thelm 2) I soak, sprout, dry, them.
    I did use all the wet messy stuff I had though, and I made crackers that have come out just fine. I made some with quinoa and the other with flax (adding spices and veggies as well.)
    This is fun!

  11. Brian said,

    January 9, 2012 at 1:14 am

    Perfect! I just bought some unhulled sesame seeds to make my own tahini, and I was debating on whether to soak or not, and to sprout or not (I’m gonna sprout & dehydrate).

    I bought a jar of raw tahini recently and it tatsed so bitter; now I know why! Thanks for this site!

    • Strix said,

      January 11, 2012 at 8:19 am

      Awesome, Brian, thanks for stopping by! Let me know how it turns out :^)

    • Susan said,

      October 4, 2012 at 9:24 am

      Hi Brian… I was looking for a recipie to make my own tahini and it just so happens that I bought the black seeds. This site and all the conversations have been very informative. Just wondering how your tahini turned out. I will be just soaking my seeds today and sprouting before use. Any additional tips?

  12. Stephanie said,

    August 20, 2012 at 2:55 am

    This is a great post! All the guess work and time trying to figure out the best way to soak sesame seeds has been done, thank you! Do you think a normal blender/smoothie maker or a food processor would be ok to blend the unhulled, sprouted & dried sesame seeds? It’s all I have.

    • Strix said,

      August 20, 2012 at 6:17 am

      Stephanie, I don’t know, but I think you’d need a lot of seeds! The blender is so deep, and the seeds so small, you’d need the volume in order for the blades to pull up the seeds and grind them. Same for a processor, but it is wide. I’d try a processor first; it has a low-laying blade. If they aren’t all ground, then dump them into your blender and blend on high. Do you have a powerful blender?

      • Susan said,

        October 4, 2012 at 9:58 am

        Very informative. Just wondering if you tried the dry bowl on the vitamix to blend the chick peas?

        • Strix said,

          October 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm

          Did you mean sesame seeds? Yes, you can get a find ground powder, but you need a large volume to accommodate the container.
          But, yes, I’ve als ground up chick peas 🙂 In fact, powdered garbanzos make excellent breads, crackers, hoummus. I’ve used it as a thickener (as instead of cornstarch or flour) for soups, gravies, sauces, etc.; or delicious cream soups!

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