Tahini is probably most well known for it’s earthy, nutty flavor contribution to hummus, but it’s much more versatile than you may currently know.
There are few sauces that measure up to the deep, rich flavor of a great tahini sauce, and it’s a great alternative to nut butter as a spread for your toast, just to name a few.
If you’re now encouraged to go out and buy yourself a huge container of tahini, please do so with the full confidence that anything you don’t use immediately can be stored long-term and with little trouble.
Can you freeze tahini? You can freeze tahini and keep it indefinitely. You will want to pre-freeze it overnight before freezing them for good in smaller portion sizes for easy thawing. It’s relatively sensitive to temperature fluctuations, but freezing tahini is a great way to maintain the quality in the long-term without risking it going bad.
This article will walk you through all the best practices for freezing tahini effectively, along with some other interesting and important tahini facts.
What is Tahini?
Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds, usually hulled and raw, though you can find unhulled and/or roasted options as well.
The hulled, raw version of tahini is light and creamy. Unhulled tahini has a more bitter flavor because it’s made from the whole seed. The bitterness makes it less popular, though more nutritious, since a lot of the fiber and other minerals are found within the seed hull.
Raw sesame seeds are quite neutral in flavor, offering nothing more than a slightly seedy, unobtrusive taste. As the seeds are roasted, the flavor deepens into an intensely nutty, smoky flavor. It’s more obvious in recipes and is less popular for this reason.
It’s very common in Middle Eastern cuisine, as well as in Mediterranean and North African foods. It’s a condiment you’d find on tables as frequently as you’d see butter or margarine in North America.
Does Tahini Need to Be Refrigerated?
Yes, it is a good idea to keep your tahini in a cold location once it’s been opened to prevent the oils from going rancid. As with all seeds and nuts, that can happen over time.
If your tahini is refrigerated, it will keep for many months, though if you freeze it carefully, it will keep almost indefinitely.
If you’re relatively new to using tahini in your recipes, a 16 oz jar might seem a bit intimidating, especially when you only need a couple of tablespoons to make a full batch of hummus.
Freezing tahini is the perfect solution, especially if you first partition it into single-serving sizes. We don’t recommend freezing the entire container of tahini, whether it’s in glass or plastic, because it’s when you want to use some, you’ll have to thaw the entire container.
As mentioned previously, tahini is sensitive to temperature fluctuations, so the more stable you can keep it, the longer it will last for you. By freezing it in individual portion sizes you won’t have to thaw your entire batch of tahini just to get what you need for a single recipe.
Creating Individual Portions Sizes for Freezing Tahini
If you have one or a few specific recipes that you use tahini for, separate your tahini into portions that are suited to those recipes. For example, if your favorite hummus recipe calls for ¼ cup of tahini, freeze the tahini in ¼ cup portions.
Tahini is thick and sticks together well. So you’ll want to follow these steps when freezing it:
- First, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out portion sizes into small balls and space them evenly across your baking sheet.
- Put it into your freezer uncovered and leave until thoroughly frozen. 1–2 hours should be sufficient, but you can leave overnight as well.
- When your tahini balls are completely frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or Tupperware container. Do your best to remove as much air as possible.
Ice cube trays can also work really well to freeze individual portion sizes. They’ll typically hold about 2 tablespoons inside each cube space.
For this method, it’s even easier to freeze small tahini portions:
- Before you add your tahini, line the entire tray with plastic wrap, with extra hanging off each side and extra pulled up in the center.
- This way, once the cube holes are filled, you can simply slice the plastic wrap and create tiny tahini bundles perfect for freezing.
- As long as they’re individually wrapped, you don’t have to freeze them first but can just add all the individual bundles into a freezer-safe Ziploc bag or Tupperware container.
The extra wrapping will add even more protection, preserving the tahini indefinitely as long as they stay completely frozen.
Defrosting Frozen Tahini
Defrosting tahini is as easy as it could possibly be.
Remove as much as you need from the freezer and place it in a small bowl. Cover with a plate or towel and leave it on your counter to thaw. It will probably take 10 – 15 minutes to defrost completely, but you can stir occasionally to speed up the process.
Once your tahini is completely thawed, you’ll want to give it a good mix with a fork or whisk to bring it back to its original consistency. You can then add it to your recipe or use it in any way you’d like.
If you don’t you everything you’ve defrosted, transfer it to a container that seals air-tight and keep it in your fridge. It’s not a good idea to re-freeze anything, let alone tahini, but it will last for a week or more in your fridge.
Alternative Methods for Storing Tahini
More often than not, you’ll see people storing tahini in their fridge. It will last a very long time this way, especially if it stays well sealed and you don’t cross-contaminate with other spreads or outside ingredients.
One of the benefits of storing tahini in your fridge is that the oil won’t separate when it’s cool like it does if kept at room temperature. Before putting it in your fridge for the first time, give it a really good stir to make sure the oil is well distributed.
When you’re ready to use it, take out as much as you need and return the main container to the fridge as quickly as possible to keep it the oil from rising back to the surface.
Tahini is made from sesame seeds, so the benefits are the same as you would enjoy from eating the seeds themselves raw or roasted.
The most notable benefit is the high-fat content. In a 15 gram serving, you’ll get about 8 grams of fat, most of them of the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated variety.
This type of fat has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory powers that decrease your risk of developing nearly all chronic diseases, including heart disease.
Tahini is also a good source of antioxidants and a variety of vitamins and minerals.
The specific type of antioxidants in sesame seeds have been noted to have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, providing very targeted nutrition to your brain that might help protect you against neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
In some alternative medicinal techniques, tahini is even used as an anti-bacterial agent.
Nutritional Data for Tahini
|Per 1 tablespoon (15g) raw, stone-ground sesame seed tahini
What are the best vegan tahini recipes?
A lot of recipes that tahini stars in are naturally vegan. Some of the most popular, hummus, and baba ganoush are plant-based dips or spreads. You can also make dressings for salads or roasted vegetables, or sauces to drench your mashed potatoes in or add to a wrap.
Tahini is also featured in falafel, which is another traditionally vegan meal. Tahini is also a delicious ingredient for a variety of baked goods, though you’ll have to adapt your recipes as needed to ensure they’re vegan-friendly.
Where is tahini in a grocery store?
There’s nothing more frustrating than planning a recipe and not being able to find the key ingredients. Tahini can be found in most grocery stores if you know where to look.
Start in the aisles with oils and condiments. If you don’t find it there, check the ethnic or international foods aisle. If you still can’t find it, look for an aisle or section that has trendy, all-natural, or health foods.
You should be able to find it in one of these locations but, if all else fails, ask a staff member or make use of any Prime memberships and order your tahini on Amazon.
What’s a good tahini substitute?
If you don’t have tahini waiting in your freezer and you’re ready to whip up a batch of your signature hummus or baba ganoush, you can make your own tahini as long as you have some sesame seeds.
Add some seeds to your food processor or blender and process until smooth. You may want to incorporate a touch of olive oil or another neutral-flavored oil to help smooth it out.
You can also use sesame paste, sesame oil, or even a nut or seed butter if you’re in dire need.