Caraway Seeds have been used as a culinary ingredient possibly longer than any other spice used in Europe. They originate from Northern and Central Europe and Asia. Today this biennial plant is also grown in regions of the United States, Canada & Morocco. Currently, Holland is believed to be the largest cultivator of Caraway Seeds.
Caraway Seeds are technically considered the fruit of the plant Carum Carvi, a member of the Parsley family. They are known for their distinct warm, bittersweet, tangy flavor with a hint of orange and anise. Caraway Seeds are renowned for their unique pungent aroma attributed to the essential oils: carvone and limonene. They are hard to the touch and shaped like a half crescent moon and are brown in color with distinctive light brown ridges. Caraway Seeds are available in whole and ground form. Many people prefer to purchase them whole and grind them as needed to achieve their rich, full flavor.
There is evidence that Caraway Seeds were used in Ancient Times by the Romans for soups, vegetables and fish dishes. There is written documentation that Caraway Seeds were used as early as the 17th century in Europe in breads, cakes, crackers, soups and stews. Caraway Seeds are an essential ingredient in the all time favorite, Rye Bread, as well as in Pumpernickel Bread. Caraway Seeds are used in different kinds of cheese in the Netherlands especially Muenster Cheese. Caraway Seeds are considered very popular in German, Scandinavian and Eastern European cuisine. They are added to soups, stews, goulash, cabbage dishes, coleslaw, sauerkraut and potato salad in addition to be used in all kinds of baked goods. They are also used in cuisine in North Africa in harissa and tabil.
Caraway Seeds work equally well in sweet and savory applications. It is best to add them towards the end of the cooking process for the most flavorful result. Caraway Seeds pair well with apples, cheeses and many kinds of desserts. Caraway Seeds are an ingredient in some kinds of liquor like Scandinavian Aquavit and German Kummel. They pair well with Allspice, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Fennel Seeds, Chiles and they are a component of Curry and Garam Masala.
Caraway Seeds have medicinal uses as well as culinary applications. They are particularly well known for helping to reduce the symptoms of digestive disorders. The essential oils contained in Caraway Seeds possess antioxidant, anti-flatulent and helpful digestive properties. Caraway Seeds are also rich in dietary fiber which helps the digestive system. They contain many minerals including iron, copper, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They also contain vitamin A, C & E and a complex of vitamin B.
We host #SpiceChat on Twitter the first Wednesday of every month - @MySpiceSage and @Tablefare lead the lively, fact & fun filled hour long conversation.
Join us Wednesday, May 4th at 4PM ET on Twitter for our #SpiceChat to talk all about Caraway Seeds. We will be sharing links to many delicious, interesting recipes featuring Caraway Seeds! We want you to become part of our great network of friends who are interested in Spices, Herbs & Seasonings and great information about all food topics!