Friday, March 14, 2014

Tour the Sesame Processing Plant

Mike said to me (while showing me around the sesame plant before we were going to have a night together), “Just think, I take you on the most exotic dates!

Actually, I was thrilled to see what was involved in the processing of sesame seeds.  I really had no earthly idea…so I thought I would share the lay person’s version of how those tiny seeds end up looking like they do on your hamburger (or veggie burger) bun.

The sesame grows in pods that look a lot like okra.

It is stacked in sheaves to dry.
They are dried and then harvested and thrashed until all the seeds are broken free from the pods. 
Then the main trash that is mixed with the hulled seeds is blown away using the wind or fans.

The seeds are then bagged and trucked to the processing plant.  The seeds are dumped into a huge cleaning machine that vibrates them along screens, knocking out the majority of the field trash.
The seeds are rinsed and drained.
The seeds then get moved to a big vat of water with a propeller that spins the seeds knocking off the hulls and impurities.  This is then repeated in another vat.
They then get sent to a drying tank that slightly heats the seeds while blowing them around.  They are then moved to a second slightly hotter tank again blowing making sure they are nice and dry…then onto yet third tank to cool them down.

After cooling they then go onto a conveyor belt where women have little vacuum tubes to suck out whatever impurities they find in between all those bitty seeds.
 The seeds move under a strong magnet to get any metal slivers that might have come off of the machinery. 

The seeds are then sent through ANOTHER inspection by more women with little suction tubes before they are bagged and shipped.

So enjoy your sesame and appreciate all the hard work that goes into your tahini, sesame bread, sesame seed salads, etc. -Kathleen