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Caraway: Wikis


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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Carum
Species: C. carvi
Binomial name
Carum carvi

Caraway (Carum carvi) also known as Meridian Fennel[1], or Persian Cumin, is a biennial plant in the family Apiaceae[2], native to western Asia, Europe and Northern Africa.

The plant is similar in appearance to a carrot plant, with finely divided, feathery leaves with thread-like divisions, growing on 20–30 cm stems. The main flower stem is 40–60 cm tall, with small white or pink flowers in umbels. Caraway fruits (erroneously called seeds) are crescent-shaped achenes, around 2 mm long, with five pale ridges.

The plant prefers warm, sunny locations and well-drained soil.


Cultivation and uses

Caraway fruits
Some caraway fruits used as a spice, up close.

The fruits, usually used whole, have a pungent, anise-like flavor and aroma that comes from essential oils, mostly carvone and limonene. They are used as a spice in breads, especially rye bread. Seeded rye bread is denser partly because the limonene from the caraway fruits has yeast-killing properties.[citation needed]

Caraway is also used in liquors, casseroles, curry and other foods, and is more commonly found in European cuisine. It is also used to add flavor to cheeses such as havarti. Akvavit and several liqueurs are made with caraway. In the United Kingdom it is (or was) commonly used in "seedy cake" (possibly originating in Cornwall) - similar to a Madeira cake but using the caraway seeds instead of lemon and orange.

A carminative or a tea (tisane) made from the seeds is used as a remedy for colic, loss of appetite and digestive disorders and to dispel worms. Caraway seed oil is also used as a fragrance component in soaps, lotions, and perfumes.

The roots may be cooked as a root vegetable like parsnips or carrots.

Names and history

The etymology of Caraway is complex and poorly understood.

Caraway has been called by many names in different regions, with names deriving from the Latin cuminum (cumin), the Greek karon (again, cumin), which was adapted into latin as carum (now meaning caraway), and the Sanskrit karavi, sometimes translated as "caraway" but other times understood to mean "fennel." [3] The Italian finocchio meridionale (meridian fennel) suggests these shared roots, though cumino tedesco (German cumin) again points towards cumin -- though caraway also has its own name in Italian, caro . Other languages share similar peculiarities, with Yiddish borrowing the german Kümmel (cumin) as kimmel to mean Caraway, yet using the semitic term kamoon for cumin.[3]

English usage of the term Caraway dates back to at least 1440 [4], and is considered by Skeat to be of Arabic origin, though Katzer believes the Arabic al-karawya (cf. Spanish alcaravea) to be derived from the Latin carum. [3]

Similar herbs

Caraway thyme has a strong caraway scent and is sometimes used as a substitute for real caraway in recipes. Other members of the family Apiaceae include anise, fennel, cumin, licorice-root (Ligusticum), and coriander.[2] In Hindi it is called Shah Jeera. In Gujarati it is called Shah Jeeru.

External links

  1. ^ Anise Seed Substitute: Caraway Seed
  2. ^ a b USDA Plants Classification Report: Apiaceae
  3. ^ a b c Katzer's Spice Pages: Caraway Caraway (Carum carvi L.)
  4. ^ Walter William Skeat, Principles of English etymology, Volume 2, page 319. 1891 Words of Arabic Origin

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CARAWAY, the fruit, or so-called seed, of Carum Carui, an umbelliferous plant growing throughout the northern and central parts of Europe and Asia, and naturalized in waste places in England. The plant has finely-cut leaves and compound umbels of small white flowers. The fruits are laterally compressed and ovate, the mericarps (the two portions into which the ripe fruit splits) being subcylindrical, slightly arched, and marked with five distinct pale ridges. Caraways evolve a pleasant aromatic odour when bruised, and they have an ,agreeable spicy taste. They yield from 3 to 6% of a volatile oil, the chief constituent of which is cymene aldehyde. Cymene itself is present, having the formula CH 3 C 6 H 4 CH(CH 3) 2 j also carvone C 10 H 14 O, and limonene, a terpene. The dose of the oil is 2-3 minims. The plant is cultivated in north and central Europe, and Morocco, as well as in the south of England, the produce of more northerly latitudes being richer in essential oil than that grown in southern regions. The essential oil is largely obtained by distillation for use in medicine as an aromatic stimulant and carminative, and as a flavouring material in cookery and in liqueurs for drinking. Caraways are, however, more extensively consumed entire in certain kinds of cheese, cakes and bread, and they form the basis of a popular article of confectionery known as caraway comfits.

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