Why You Should Always Shake A Tahini Jar Before Buying It

Commonly called "liquid gold," tahini, or tahina, adds its magic to endless recipes from hot chocolate to hummus and salad dressing to creamy vegan soup. It's a culinary crusade in any kitchen, but unless you live in the Middle East, where you have easy access to some of the best sesame spreads one can get, it can be challenging to find a brand of it you can count on. 

In most cases, when you're shopping for tahini at the grocery store, you'll find shelves of obscure brands you've probably never come across before, with labels that only add to your confusion. Forced to make a choice, and rushed to get out of the store and on your way to the next task of the day, you may just end up grabbing whichever jar caught your eye first — but that could be a big mistake. More often than not, you'll come home and open the jar, only to find a thick, separated, and nearly unspreadable mess of tahini you would've been better off without.

Fortunately, this situation is avoidable. Next time you find yourself scanning the shelves for tahini at the store, give yourself a break and start shaking. Depending on the sound you hear, you'll know which jar to take home with you.

Give your tahini a shake to determine its consistency and freshness

As Adeena Sussman, a cookbook author and recipe developer based out of Tel Aviv, explained to The Washington Post, "You want to shake that jar in the store. And if you hear a heavy slapping, that's a good sign because it means that the tehina inside is incorporated and emulsified." Getting a tahini that's well incorporated and emulsified, meaning that the oils and sesame seeds are combined into one, is important because the tahini will be much easier to work with. Whether you like it a little runny or somewhat thick like your peanut butter, the tahini should pour effortlessly out of the jar or scoop seamlessly onto your spoon, measuring cup, or knife — no mixing necessary.

Sussman then went on to say that "...if you feel splashing, it probably means that it's separated because it's older ... and then you'd have to reincorporate it at home, which can be a little challenging."  So while there are some mess-free ways to stir nut butter at home, sometimes you're better off saving yourself the time. With good tahini, however, it shouldn't be necessary at all, as that type of separation usually means it's been sitting around for a little too long.