Tahini, pursuing a waste-free home…and when things don’t go to plan

Tahini, pursuing a waste-free home…and when things don’t go to plan

I am currently addicted to tahini. What started as distrust for its strong and distinctive flavour has gradually grown into full-on love, and now I can’t get enough of the stuff. I use it in hummous, in baking, as a salad dressing, to make potato salad, as a replacement for mayonnaise and butter. Mmm, it is delicious.

But it comes in a glass jar. In my quest for a zero-waste home I’m trying to cut out all unnecessary packaging, and the quicker I go through tahini, the more jars I end up with. (I re-use my glass jars rather than recycle them as they end up being used as road base here in Perth, which seems a waste to me. But there’s only so many jars that I need.)

The label on the jar proudly states “just natural hulled sesame seeds”. No added oil, salt or sugar. So, I figured, I can just blend some sesame seeds in a food processor and make my own.

Turns out, it isn’t that easy. The resulting mass was nothing like the glossy, runny, beautiful tahini I can buy in a glass jar. It was a grey, lifeless lump. Looks aren’t everything, I know. Sadly, the taste was pretty terrible too. Really bitter and quite unpleasant.

This is what I wanted…
…and this is what I got.

I’m wondering whether I should have roasted the sesame seeds. The jar doesn’t tell me that the seeds are roasted, but experience has taught me that roasted nut butters are infinitely better than raw ones. I think I’ll give it another go sometime, and toast the sesame seeds first.

In the meantime, I’ve been to the shop and bought myself a new jar of tahini. I’m going to try using the lump of ‘tahini fail’ in a tahini biscuit recipe that I make sometimes. I hope that the baking removes the bitter nasty taste. If not, the sugar and other ingredients should mask it.

Anyways, I thought I’d share with you, in case you’re feeling tempted to try to make your own tahini without consulting a recipe first. Which you’re probably not.

Ah well, we all have bad days!

16 Responses to Tahini, pursuing a waste-free home…and when things don’t go to plan

  1. I’ve never tried tahini, going to give it a go this week as substitute for mayonnaise as you suggest. I smiled about your jar dilemma. My OH is obsessed with saving glass bottles and jars. We use a fair few for chutneys, pickles and wine making but there’s still a mountain in the barn. I think he’s hoping they might turn into currency in the future (:

  2. It’s got quite a distinctive flavour, and it definitely grows on you, plus it is sooo good for you – a great source of calcium and lots of other vitamins and minerals. Much better than mayo! As for the glass jars, I’m pretty sure my boyfriend would chuck them all in the recycling if he thought I wouldn’t notice! I’m glad your husband is on my side. And if they do become a currency, we’ll be rich!

  3. Interesting idea to use tahini as mayonnaise!
    I also use glass jars for growing seeds, for storage (tea, spices, nuts, home-made hummous and other things I can put on my bread), freezing vegetables (instead of in plastic bags), keeping things in the fridge (instead of in bags), storing sewing supplies, storing pencils and pens, etc… Lots of things :) But I still have lots of jars anyway :P

  4. I also use tahini in my hummus, but never thought about it as a mayonnaise. I am lucky as we have a bulk food chain store in Canada called Bulk Barn. They sell Tahini in bulk. Good luck on your next batch.

  5. Tahini jars are just the size we need for honey – so if you don’t end up discovering a way to make it please keep the jars for us. But I somehow suspect that you will be googling and solving this issue any minute now . . .

  6. Hi, I love hummus and tahini as well. I live far, far away from the shops where you can get ready made. I like to cook from the scratch as well and do not have so much waste in the kitchen. I do my own tahini just for hummus. I have always in the kitchen a jar with gomasio – home roasted sessam seeds. Sessam seeds and chickpeas I can buy easily without any extra packages /by weight/ in the nearest town. So I blend my gomasio with olive oil, add cooked chickpes and all the extras and we can enjoy lovely home made hummus in North East Poland.

  7. Interesting, we (I say “we”, but actually I’m just a spectator and end-consumer) had a similar experience, although it looks like you got closer! “We” also try peanut butter. It sort of works occasionally, but is never like the stuff that came out of the peanut butter machine in a “scooper market” in NZ; which was instructive, because all that went in was peanuts and this fabulous peanut came out; the same peanuts in a home kitchen blender didn’t behave the same, so I put it down to the machinery. I wonder if the same is true of tahini?

    Also, have you tried to source Tahini in bulk here? I know someone in Vic who buys it by the 5 litre tub, which sort of reduces packaging waste if you can use the 5l tubs again. It was very nice Tahini too…yum :-)


    • I actually realised that a shop in Fremantle sells it in bulk! So I will buy a big jar of that. It’s the same brand as the one I buy in the jar I think, so should taste the same. I think after my massive success with the almond butter that I thought it would be easy to make tahini too. I will have another go sometime though. Otherwise I agree, buying big packs is the next best thing…

      Do you roast your peanuts before grinding them, or use raw ones?

      • Hi, we just use them raw, but it doesn’t always make butter, sometimes we get a sort of sticky powder. We have tried roasting them too, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference, although I prefer the taste of roasted.

        I think the success in peanut butter depends on how much oil is in the nuts. And on the machine as well.



  8. Tahini sold in glass jar?! You’re lucky! Here in Montreal, I only found tahini in plastic jar… :( So, if one day you find a way to make your own, I would be happy to steal it! ;-)

    • Oooh, new update…I’ve found tahini in bulk! I can bring old jars for refilling so completely waste-free : ) But then I tried black tahini, which isn’t available in bulk… So I think another home-made tahini attempt is on the cards. I will report back if I’m successful!

        • The one I buy doesn’t contain any extra oil, but I think for less powerful blenders, adding oil is probably a good idea. I’ll have to give it another go when I’m back from holidays. Thanks for sharing the recipe : )

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