For years, all I knew of tahini was the single brand available to me at my local grocery store — the contents were as dusty as the tin itself. The paste, made from sesame seeds and oil, was chalky and so cement-like that I could never get the separated oil to blend back in. I was close to giving up on tahini altogether.
Then one evening, while living abroad, an Israeli friend had me over for dinner. So passionate about the food of his country, he had carried his own tahini to his temporary home afar. One taste and I knew I had been living a tahini lie. I fell hard once I finally tasted the real deal.
Good news: You don't have to get on a plane to Israel to find the good stuff.
Soom Tahini Is the Best Tahini You Can Buy in the States
Soom tahini is great — as close to the tahini you can find in Israel that I've found in the States.
Buy: Soom Foods Pure Sesame Tahini and Chocolate Sesame Tahini Sampler, $19 for two, 12-ounce containers
Based in Philadelphia, the company started when Shelby Zitelman was visiting her sister, Jackie, in Israel one summer and realized just how good tahini can be. "I didn't know tahini was supposed to taste like that," says Shelby. Since the sisters couldn't find tahini of that high quality at home in the States, they decided to rope in their youngest sister, Amy, and together, make it themselves.
To make that happen, the women seek out the highest quality sesame seeds, specifically from the northwest, Humera, region of Ethiopia. Sourcing is incredibly important to the sisters — they've all spent time in the region, getting to know the both the land and the farmers, in order to make a better product. "Like chocolate or wine, depending on where sesame seeds are grown, it has a really big effect on the flavor and consistency of the product," says Zitelman.
The result is tahini that's rich and creamy in texture and incredibly fresh and nutty in flavor — it's sesame in its purest form, which is exactly what great tahini should be.
How to Use Soom in the Kitchen
Soom's classic tahini should give you a reason to bring tahini into your kitchen much more often. Start with killer hummus and then just keep going: Whisk it into dressing, bake it into cookies, spread it on toast, and toss it with pasta.
While the sisters are currently experimenting with new products to add to their brand, right now they do just two things: classic tahini and chocolate tahini. Yes, chocolate tahini. Made with nothing more than tahini, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar, their chocolate tahini can really do no wrong. Slather it on pancakes and waffles, use it as a dip for fruit, add it to smoothies, warm it and drizzle it over ice cream, use it in place of peanut butter or Nutella in baked goods, or simply eat it with a spoon.
Related: 5 Smart Ways to Use Tahini
Where to Find Soom
Have you tried Soom? What's your favorite store-bought tahini?