Spice Profile: Caraway

Caraway Seed

Scientific Name Carum Carvi

What is Caraway?

Caraway is the seed of a plant in the carrot, parsley and celery family. The fruit of the plant splits into two curved seeds. Caraway has a warm and spicy fragrance and flavor.

What is the History of Caraway?

Caraway has been used since the Roman times to flavor vegetable and fish dishes. In the middle ages, it was popular as a flavoring for soups and bean and cabbage dishes. Later, English bakers began using it in confections, breads and cakes.

How is Caraway Grown?

Holland and Germany are the major producers of Caraway. Although it is native to Asia as well as northern and central Europe. It is cultivated as a biennial and can be grown across much of the world. The stems of the plant are cut as the fruit is ripening and then dried for 7-10 days.

How Can I Use Caraway?

Add caraway to baking to add a bittersweet and spicy note. It is used in rye bread and many other hearty dishes such as sausage, cabbage, and stews and soups. It is also common in North African cuisine including tabil and harissa. 

Fun Facts

  • Caraway is used to flavor spirits such as aquavit and Kummel
  • Young caraway leaves can be used in salads, soups and fresh cheese.
  • Archeological evidence suggests that the seeds were in use over 5,000 years ago.
  • Caraway is often confused with cumin. They have a similar flavor profile, look, and similar names in many languages.

Sources 

Herbs and Spices by Jill Norman

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

 

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