Tiny Seed to Liquid Gold – How Sesame Oil is Made

10/28/2013 2:53:41 PM
written By :   Chitralekha Print
Last modified on Monday, January 20, 20142:32 PM

Sesame oil is one of the most stable edible oils. Different methods are used to extract oil from the sesame seeds in different places. The seeds are either used raw or are toasted before extracting oil from them. But no matter which method is used, they have to first be removed from their protective capsules, which burst only when properly ripe. Though this is an uneven process, ripening continues even after the plants are cut. So, in India, usually farmers harvest the crop and wait till all the seed pods burst, spilling out their rich treasure. (Perhaps the magical power of "Open Sesame" was inspired by the sound made by the popping seed capsules - something like a lock springing open!).
 
The oil is extracted using the techniques that suit the economy and technological development of different production zones. Some are rudimentary, others sophisticated, some are small-scale, labour-intensive and require comparatively less investment, others are expensive, technology-intensive, large-scale methods. The ghani method - a sort of magnified mortar and pestle system powered usually by bullocks - is traditionally the most widely-used in India. There are also bridge presses and ram presses, and the hot water flotation method is followed as well. For more organized commercial production, expellers are used.
Exposure to high temperature during the extraction process is believed to reduce the nutritional value of the oil, and votaries of organic food recommend the use of oil produced by the cold press method. This technique involves the use of expeller presses in low temperature conditions.
Developed countries often use large-scale oil extraction equipment, as well as chemical solvents. The solvents and the neutralizing and bleaching procedures that are frequently undertaken result in a visually appealing product. However, purists think that the oil produced from high-quality sesame seeds needs no further enhancement or refining, and that such processes take away from the inherent value of the product.
The advantages of sesame oil in its unrefined state are far above those of the refined variety, according to dieticians and health specialists. Besides the nutritional value being preserved, the natural oil has a pleasant taste and aroma which enhance the appeal of food when it is used as a cooking medium.

Last modified on Monday, January 20, 20142:32 PM

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