A flowering plant in the genus of Sesamum, cultivated for its edible seeds and grow in pods. Sesame has one of the highest oil contents of any seed with a rich nutty flavor.
Sesame seeds are small. The size, form and colours vary with the thousands of varieties now known. They are about 3 to 4 millimeters long by 2 millimeters wide and 1 millimeter thick. The seeds are ovate, slightly flattened and somewhat thinner at the eye of the seed (hilum) than at the opposite end.
The weight of the seeds is between 20 and 40 milligrams. The seed coat (testa) may be smooth or ribbed. Sesame seeds come in many colours depending on the cultivar harvested. The most traded variety of sesame is off-white coloured.
Other common colours are buff, tan, gold, brown, reddish, gray and black.
Sesame seed is sometimes sold with its seed coat removed (decorticated). This is the variety often present on top of buns in developed economies.
Used as a common ingredient in cuisines across the world, the sesame seeds have been a source of food and oil. It is one of the highest oil contents of any seed, some varietals exceeding 50 percent oil content compared to soybean's 20 percent.
Sesame oil is one of the most stable vegetable oils, with long shelf life, because of the high level of natural antioxidants (sesamin, sesamolin, and sesamol). Oil from the seed is used in cooking, as salad oils and margarine, and contains about 47 percent oleic and 39 percent linoleic acid.