From Old World to New World

Sesame-a cooking oil that keeps on and on.

Sesamum indicum


Sesame traveled here from Africa with slaves. African Americans used seeds in puddings, stews, and candy. Oil from the seeds was particularly important because it keeps several years without going rancid. The leaves were used medicinally. A paste of fresh leaves eased skin conditions; a mixture of water and leaves relieved stomach disorders.


Present Use

Sesame oil contains polyunsaturated fat, which is used in margarine and cooking oils. Seeds are sprinkled on buns, eaten straight, and ground into a paste called tahini. Sesame is also used in paints, soaps, lubricants, and insect sprays.

From Old World to New World