Are you a sesame seed fan? Do you like them other than on top of your fast food burger? Do you throw them into your salads or your dressings? They you must be a sesame seed fan. Have you ever tried black sesame seeds? A couple weeks back, I wrote about the differences between the white and black sesame seeds (see What is the Difference Between Black and White Sesame Seeds?). The black sesame seeds have a stronger flavor than the white counterparts. It's a reason why people seek them out. They often have more of crunch as they are not hulled like most white sesame you find are (although you can get unhulled white sesame seeds at Whole Foods Market).
How to Find Black Sesame Seeds
Typically black sesame seeds are harder to find, hence the motivation for writing this post. If you look in the spice section of most large supermarket chains you won't find them there. If they have them they are most likely in an international section. When I see them they tend to be in large containers, too large unless you are a serious sesame user. I did however locate a small package (which is featured in the photo at the top of this post) at Hiller's in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The store is known for having a great international selection. You also should be able to find them in any good Asian market. Do a Google search of your area. A lot of those markets are "hole in the wall" places that many of us overlook. They might be hidden gems. Or also look for a bulk food or spice specialty store. Don't forget if all else fails you can find them on the world wide web.
Grow Your Own Black Sesame Seeds
As I was pursing through the Whole Seed Catalog from the Baker Creek Seed Company I came across their grains & cover crops section. I discovered that they sell black sesame seeds. You could grow your own! It is what Thomas Jefferson did! Story goes he received sesame oil and fell in love with it (see for more info on the Monticello website). He decided he wanted to grow them. They still grow on site today. And they can grow at your house as well. I myself am going to grow them. I am further north than in Virginia where Jefferson grew them, I have heard of people being successful here Michigan. Even if I don't get a lot of or any seeds, there are still the leaves. The leaves are edible. You may see them sold at Asian stores as perilla leaves. They can be used in salads and are popular to wrap rice, veggies, or meat in. One of the benefits to growing something yourself is experiencing the plant in new ways that you may have not experienced if you just go to the store and buy the seeds. Not to mention they produce pretty white flowers that will beautify your yard.
Stay tune to my gardening blog, the Pea Project, for updates on how my sesame seed crop does.
You can order white or black sesame seeds from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Here are the links to order them: