Soom Foods Wants You to Eat More Tahini

And why not? It's healthy, easy on the environment to make, and delicious.

bowl of tahini (sesame seed butter)

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Americans love their nut and seed butters. Peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter (aka Nutella), and sunflower butter can be found on the shelves of any supermarket in every little town across the country. But for some reason, American home cooks have been slow to adopt tahini, a traditional sesame seed butter popular in Middle Eastern cuisine.

They're missing out on a lot. Tahini is healthy, packing 6 grams of protein per serving and loads of other vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. It's versatile and useful for so much more than just hummus, adding moisture and richness to baked goods and more. And it's eco-friendly, with sesame being a drought-resistant crop that uses 800 gallons less water per pound to produce than almonds and does not require specialized harvesting equipment, making it more accessible to small-scale farmers.

Soom Foods is a US-based seller of fine tahini that's trying to convince Americans that they should buy and eat more tahini. Owned by three sisters—Amy, Shelby, and Jackie Zitelman—Soom makes its tahini in Israel (where Jackie lives) from sesame seeds sourced in Ethiopia, and then sells it in the U.S. 

"Soom Tahini is pressed from the best!" Amy Zitelman told Treehugger over email. "We use premium Ethiopian sesame seeds and grind them into silky, smooth tahini with a mildly nutty taste. Soom is easy to mix and enhances the flavor in everything from sauces and dips to cookies and cakes."

Indeed, the fact that it doesn't separate is attractive to many home cooks who have faced the dreaded forgotten jar of tahini—with separate layers of oil and cement-like sesame paste that will not mix, despite best efforts. Soom is not like that. In fact, Bon Appétit editor Sarah Jampel raved about its smoothness: "It’s so silky-smooth that you never have to stir. For lazy tahini fiends like me, that means I’m cooking and baking with tahini more often."

When asked about Americans' hesitation to embrace tahini, Zitelman sounded positive. "Tahini has been used by cultures around the globe since the beginning of time. North American consumers are just starting to appreciate tahini for its flavor, nutrition, and versatility. We like to think Soom is at the forefront of the U.S. tahini revolution. We will continue to help consumers understand more about the benefits of tahini and how to use it."

No doubt people will buy Soom tahini to replace jars as they use them up, but the key is to teach Americans to use their tahini more, to reach for it instinctively when they want to replace conventional fats in baked goods and sauces, add a creamy texture to dips and spreads, and make rich soups and broths. Zitelman even mentioned a recipe for Vegan Mac 'n Cheese, that she said is a favorite creative use for tahini. Soom's website features 100+ recipes for using tahini in various mouthwatering ways, from Tahini Miso Ramen to Double Chocolate Tahini Banana Muffins.

One feature that jumps out for this Treehugger editor is that tahini—particularly the decadent-sounding chocolate spreads that Soom makes—could be an excellent replacement for Nutella and other chocolate-hazelnut spreads that rely heavily on palm oil to create their smooth texture. With palm oil's connection to tropical deforestation and habitat destruction, it's an oil that must either be avoided or sourced sustainably (even that's questionable). But tahini resolves that dilemma, while still satisfying cravings for a luscious chocolatey spread.

When Treehugger suggests this, Zitelman points out that Soom's Chocolate Tahini and Dark Chocolate Tahini with Sea Salt would be great Nutella replacements. "They are made with simple ingredients and are perfect for spreading on toast, pouring over ice cream, and using in milkshakes or baking. You can use either flavor in place of the leading chocolate spread." And they have less than half the sugar of other chocolate spreads.

If you're curious about cooking more with tahini, and experiencing the difference that good tahini makes, check out Soom Foods' product lineup. You can buy in stores around the US, Canada, and UK, and order online.

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