Do you Know Where Your Sesame Seed Oil Comes From?
Sesame seeds, as many of you are aware, are a powerful natural health food and a welcome addition to your diet. They are a nutrient rich powerhouse packed in a tiny package. With a history of over 5,000 years of cultivation and people from all over the world used them to get their benefits. Sesame oil is is used in cooking and Ayurvedic medicine, and more recently as an excellent moisturizer for skin and hair.
You might want to try the benefits for yourself, but you shy away from commercially produced sources due to possible additives and the nutrient loss involved in processing. So you would prefer an all natural product. Well then, let’s look at how sesame oil is produced and how you can find safe organic sesame seed oil for your own personnel use.
Sesame seed oil is produced by the pressing and crushing of the seeds to release their oil. There are other processing methods, most of which are manually intensive techniques and some include chemical extraction methods. As you might guess, a large number of seeds are needed to produce every ounce of oil.
First grown in the Indus valley of India where even today the word oil (in many of the dialects and the Tamil language) refers directly to the sesame seed. Today the oil is still considered sacred and used in various religious ceremonies.
Sesame seed oil is now produced in China and in the Middle East, and other developing countries. But, there is a world wide shortage of the seeds so prices for either toasted or untoasted seeds is high right now. Cold pressed oil is the most natural and is still made using methods dating back centuries. These methods while producing a rich golden oil rich with vital nutrients is not the most efficient way to get the oil. Large stone containers and with wooded either mechanically, manually, and in some cases animal powered operated rams crush the seeds and the oil is pressed out. The darker brown oil is produced from toasted sesame seeds. Sesame oil is light sensitive and so must be kept out of direct sunlight to avoid oxidation and making the oil go rancid.
As of this time there are no really large commercially viable growing or harvesting methods for obtaining sesame seeds. It is still done at the village level in India and other third world countries. China is attempting to get larger scale operations up and running for export. Those techniques however use commercial processing and chemical extraction similar to their other mass produced oils, which may reduce the effectiveness and health benefits. China along with Mexico dominate most of the market and now are the world’s largest producers of sesame seeds. China also produces a black sesame seed and the oil from it is a dark glistening ebony-like colour. It offers a rich nuttier flavor than either the other varieties such as the white or brown grown there and elsewhere in the world.
You now have some idea of the complexity surrounding the production of this oil. While its health benefits are immense and varied, production, harvesting and processing methods still lag the world’s demand and hence the rising prices. The best oil for health is produced through cold pressing using wood and stone. Modern processing methods such as cooking, steaming and using chemical solutions produces more oil but may reduce the effectiveness and are mainly used for cooking and seasoning. When buying Sesame seed oil for your cooking or health be aware of which type you are purchasing.