I have bought several jars of tahini from different companies lately. All labels say, that they contain 100% hulled sesame seeds with no preservatives or artifical flavours added.

Some of the jars contained very salty tahini. At first, I even thought, the salty ones were contaminated with some inedible chemical. But then a friend from the Middle East told me, that he sees them as the original flavour and he did not like the unsalty ones, that he called "Australian tahini".

An example of the unsalty tahini is Mayver's Tahini Hulled, for the salty ones I did not find a brand, as they are just bottled by Australian local wholesalers for Mediterannean food.

What makes the tahinis so different? Do they - as I think - use different chemicals for hulling? Is the salt washed out of the tahini in the unsalty brands, as my friend thinks?

EDIT: One thing, I noticed: The salty tahini is runnier.

2nd EDIT: After reading @Jefromi's comment, I've looked at the ingredients. Salt is not listed and I doubt, that I would taste 1/1000th of salt in the tahini. Surprisingly the less salty tahini contains 11 times more sodium than the salty one, which makes me wonder, if the salty tastes comes from another salt than NaCl.

Here are the contents of the tahinis per 100g (unsalty first - Melissa Tahini, salty second):

2728 kJ, 2924 kJ
25.8g, 31.6g
Fat - Total
54g, 63.6g
Carbohydrate - Total
Carbohydrates - Sugars
1.3g, Nil
46mg, 4mg

Salty tahini

Nutrition information of salty tahini

Unsalty tahini

Nutrition information of unsalty tahini

The numbers are so different, I wonder, if they are correct.

  • I haven't noticed a salt taste difference between brands of tahini here in California. This may be something just with Australian brands.
    – FuzzyChef
    Jan 29, 2012 at 20:21
  • 1
    The ingredients don't list salt either, right? (Just in case they're rounding 99.9% sesame seeds up to 100%.) Do the nutrition facts list different amounts of sodium?
    – Cascabel
    Jan 30, 2012 at 3:36
  • 1
    Wait, the salty one has less sodium? Now I'm really lost. Also, yes, you could certainly taste a tenth of a percent of salt; 50-100 mg of sodium is probably typical for 100g of tahini, and that means 125-250mg of salt, so the difference between salted and unsalted is less than .25%.
    – Cascabel
    Jan 30, 2012 at 17:42
  • 1
    @Jefromi, I wonder, if non-Sodium salts like potassium chloride taste salty ("salty" as in NaCl) ... Feb 1, 2012 at 14:01
  • 2
    @Sebastian yes, they do. Not the same taste as NaCl, but there are "salt substitute" products intended for people on low-sodium diets which consist of a mixture of NaCl and KCl.
    – rumtscho
    Feb 1, 2012 at 14:30

4 Answers 4


Just toured 17 tahini factories in Palestine. The traditional process soaks the sesame seeds in salt water, first to soften the hull for de-hulling, again to separate the hulls from the seeds, and finally to obtain the desired flavor. The seeds are rinsed in fresh water prior to drying and roasting. Alternate de-hulling processes avoid the initial salt water soak, but retain the salt water soak after de-hulling and prior to rinsing and roasting to obtain the desired flavor.


I would think that the water being used for the hulling process has salt in it. The label is only going to list added items for the production of the finished product. Of course that depends on where you live and the food laws that govern your area.

If the manufacturer is purchasing seeds pre-hulled then he's not going to be listing any added salt because as far as he's concerned he's just putting sesame seeds into a grinder.

The fact that he doesn't need to ADD any additional salt as shown from the label shows that his supply is coming to him in a salty state already. Which is why he's probably using them because he's saving on the cost of salt in the recipe.

  • 1
    Would the sodium content be determined before or after processing? Wouldn't the salt from the salt water show up in the nutrition information? Feb 11, 2012 at 3:24
  • 3
    The label on the side with the nutritional facts is an accumulated listing of nuitrients based upon the standardized recipe of the maker. The maker won't send out items they purchase for testing, they would use industry certified lab reports. With industry norm numbers and based upon the recipe, they calculate the nutrition label. The amount of sodium listed would be based on the avg amount of sodium in a sesame seed + whatever the recipe called for. Those labels are meant for an average guideline of nutritional contents. Feb 11, 2012 at 8:55

Maybe try to buy 'original' middle-eastern Tahini actually made in an Arab country on Israel in Arab/Israeli owned stores or those catering to those crowds. Here in Israel if you don't add salt while making the Tehina it's doesn't taste good enough...


"melissa" tahini use the water hulling process & do not roast their seeds,hence their hulled tahini is very light in colour,creamy,smooth & not salty.some processers use a caustic process & most processers roast their hulled tahini.you can tell if it is roasted by a darker colour & by taste.I think they all roast their unhulled tahini to help get the oil out?it tastes like it.nutritionally,roasted oil is not good.

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