The benne (or sesame) seed has long been a staple in the traditional foodways of the South Carolina lowcountry. Most people here, especially tourists, first encounter this delicious seed in the benne wafer—sweet, crunchy, bite-sized discs that one finds everywhere in and around Charleston. In recent years, however, historically-minded chefs have been using benne in a wide variety of dishes, from pastries to main courses, in the effort to restore the tiny seed to its former place as a staple of lowcountry cuisine.
- Chances are, you already know about benne seeds, which are more commonly known as sesame seeds. Benne is simply the African name for sesame
- Sesame seeds are a great source of minerals, including copper, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, zinc and selenium. They are also rich in vitamin B and E, protein, and fiber
- Sesame plant is a drought tolerant annual that grows in most soil types, but thrive in fertile soil with a neutral pH, and do best in full sunlight
“Is there a difference between benne seeds and sesame seeds? Not a bit. Benne is simply the African name for sesame (Sesamum indicum).”