SESAME, Monticello White
Seeds per pack approx. 125
Germination: 82% Jan 2024 Packed for 2024
Sesame benne, also known simply as "benne," refers to a type of sesame seed that is popular in Southern cuisine, particularly in the United States. The term "benne," comes from the Gullah-Geechee people (descendants of formerly enslaved people who developed a unique culture living in relative isolation on the Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina.
Benne seeds are derived from the sesame plant, Sesamum indicum, which is native to Africa and widely cultivated for its seeds. Believed to have originated in India, and domesticated in from Africa since at least the time of the Pharaohs. Even today, the east African nation of Sudan produces the largest crop of sesame seeds.
This white-seeded sesame variety was no doubt introduced to Thomas Jefferson by one of the African or African-descended people whom he enslaved and forced to work the farm at his hilltop estate at Monticello, outside Charlottesville, Virginia. The seeds have long been maintained by the private foundation that continues to run Monticello, and this variety has been provided by Chris Smith of The Utopian Seed Project.
Sesame benne seeds are small, flat, and oval-shaped. They typically have a pale, beige to light brown color, although some varieties can be darker. Benne seeds have a slightly nutty, earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness. This flavor profile makes them a versatile ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes. Sesame benne seeds are a good source of healthy fats, protein, dietary fiber, and various essential minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. It's worth noting that sesame seeds, including benne seeds, can trigger allergies in some individuals. People with sesame allergies should avoid consuming products that contain sesame seeds.
Benne seeds have a long history in Southern cuisine, dating back to the days of enslaved African who brought the seeds to Americas. They became a significant ingredient in Gullah-Geechee cuisine, a culinary tradition of the African American communities along the Lowcountry Southeastern coast. They are often toasted to enhance their flavor and used in a variety of recipes, such as: cookies, rice, grits, salads, and seasoning.
In summary, sesame benne seeds are a flavorful and historically significant ingredient in Southern cuisine, known for their nutty taste and versatility in both sweet and savory dishes. They have a rich cultural heritage and continue to be cherished in Southern cooking traditions.