Caraway is a versatile herb that can be used in many different dishes. The umbellifer, or wild caraway, is an important spice and medicinal herb. Its fruits have been used for more than 3000 years in the kitchen for baking bread or for many cabbage dishes. Caraway oil and tea are said to be good for indigestion and other stomach problems according to naturopathy.
Profile of Caraway:
Scientific name: Carum carvi
Plant family: umbellifer
English name: Caraway
Other names: meridian fennel, annual caraway, wild caraway, cumin
End of March to end of April is the best time to sow/plant.
Flowering period: May – July
Harvest time: July
Location: sunny to partially shaded
Soil quality: nutrient-rich, loamy, and rather heavy soils
, gout Agrimony can be used as a medicinal herb to treat gastrointestinal discomfort, flatulence, stomach cramps, and increase breastmilk production. It can also be used to treat rheumatism and gout.
, with fatty fish Rosemary can be used as an aromatic herb in bread and other baked goods, as well as in legumes and spice mixtures. It also pairs well with fatty fish.
Plant characteristics and classification of Caraway
Origin and distribution of the caraway
The plant is originally from the Mediterranean and its neighboring countries in southern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. By growing caraway, the spice and medicinal herb is now found in many regions of the world, including the lowlands and mountains. You can usually find it in dry meadows, by roadsides, and at the edges of forests.
Systematics of Carum carvi
The common caraway, or wild caraway, belongs to the umbellifer family. The plant is in the same family as dill, anise, coriander, or wild carrot. Other types of caraway plants include the common caraway, which is probably the most important type of this herb. The Greek caraway (Carum graecum) and the multi-leaved caraway (Carum multiflorum) are mentioned occasionally, in addition to these.
Although they are often confused, the common caraway and cummin are not part of the same genus. Cumin does not taste or have the same effect as other members of the umbellifer family. Although black cumin (Nigella sativa) shares no similarities with the type described, it is still a common ingredient.
Characteristics of the caraway
The caraway plant takes two years to complete its life cycle, as indicated by the way its leaves and flowers look. In the first year of growth, only a ground-level rosette of leaves is recognizable. In the second year of growth, the stems on which the umbel-flowers are sitting and the leaves are formed. The plant typically ranges in height from 30 to 50 cm (12 – 20 inches), though it may occasionally reach 100 cm (40 inches). The common caraway grows a carrot-like taproot in the soil that is usually yellow-brown to light-brown in color.
The scent of the plant itself is very weak. You can only smell the caraway fragrance when the seeds are ripening on the plant. The scent of caraway seeds is even more intense when the seeds are crushed or pounded with a mortar. The essential oil is emitted from the plant, which is significantly different from another plant that appears similar. The following plants should be mentioned at this point: the hemlock, the wild carrot, and the wild chervil. The last plant mentioned, hemlock, is poisonous to humans and can be identified by its unpleasant smell.
The caraway leaves are light green and have a pinnate leaf form. They grow opposite to a stalk with a visible furrow.
Caraway flowers are generally white and take two years to bloom, with the flowering period occurring between May and July. The flowers can also sometimes be a light pink or red. The flowers of the common caraway typically measure 1-4mm in width and have five petals. They also have yellow-colored stamens. There are usually between eight and 16 umbels, each consisting of many small flowers.
The flowers develop into two types of fruits, either wind- or insect-pollinated, which each contain partial fruits. The schizocarps are brown, slightly woody, crescent-shaped, and have a fragrant aroma of caraway.
Caraway seeds should be sown indoors in early spring, at least 4 weeks before the last frost date. After that, they can be planted outside in their final growing positions. The first year after planting, the plant will produce a lot of low-growing foliage. The following spring or early summer, it will produce flowers and seed heads.
Caraway seed can be sown in early fall in warmer climates and planted out in spring when there is no risk of frost. Plants will reach maturity and produce seeds in the late spring or summer following the year in which they are planted.
If sowing in drills, make the drills ½ inch (1cm) deep If you’re sowing seeds in modules, plant them ½ inch deep. If you’re sowing them in drills, make the drills ½ inch deep. Transplants should be spaced 8-12 inches (20-31cm) apart from each other, and seedlings should be thinned to the same distance. Leave 18 inches (45cms) between rows.
Plant caraway in full sun in fertile, well-drained soil. Some plants can tolerate partial shade, especially if they are in a hot climate. If you are running out of space, you can try planting caraway in containers. Make sure your containers are deep enough to accommodate the plant’s long taproot, and wide enough if you want to grow more than one plant.
Sun and Temperature
Caraway prefers a full sun location and grows best in cool temperate climates. Provided that plants are given enough water and shade during the hottest part of the day, they will be able to survive in warmer areas. Suitable to grow in USDA zones 3-10. Plants in colder climates die back over the winter months. If you are worried about freezing temperatures, a good winter mulch will protect shallow roots or buds from frost.
Water and Humidity
It is important to maintain a consistent level of moisture in the soil for young plants during their first year. Plants are more drought-resistant in their second year, but they cannot be allowed to dry out completely. Water your garden early in the morning using timed drip hoses if available. To water your plant, you can either use a watering can or hose with the water directed at the soil and not the leaves. Watering your plants is not necessary during winter, however, you should check container-grown plants to make sure they do not dry out.
Plant caraway in rich, sandy loam well-drained soil. Add a lot of good quality compost, leaf mulch, or well-rotted manure in spring before planting to give your plants a head start. Repeat the following spring before the first shoots come up. A layer of mulch in fall can help protect plants from frost damage in very cold areas. 0 Soil pH should be slightly acidic to neutral.
Water your seedlings with a mixture of seaweed and nitrogen to help them grow strong and healthy during their first year. Repeat a few times throughout the growing season. You should increase flower and seed production when flower buds start to form during the next spring. Apply a fertilizer rich in potassium to help with fruit and flower development, such as a high-quality tomato feed.
Caraway is propagated from seed. You’ll get the best results with fresh caraway seed, like you would with most other umbellifers. Seed germinates between one and two weeks.
Plant the seeds in module trays filled with general-purpose compost to a depth of ½ inch (1cm). Keep the compost moist but not wet. Seeds can be sown directly into prepared beds outside after all risk of frost has passed. The beds should be prepared with rich organic matter. Water your compost regularly to keep it moist, especially during the first year when your seedlings are still establishing themselves.
Harvesting And Storing
After your caraway plants have had a chance to grow and establish themselves in their first year, you can begin harvesting the leaves. Do not harvest too many leaves as the plant needs them for photosynthesis in order to produce flowers and seeds the following year. The seed heads are ready to harvest when the seeds turn brown after being golden yellow. Cut the stem off the mushrooms and bring them inside. You can then use them in the kitchen or store them. After the seeds are harvested, it is time to dig up the root.
Invert the flowering stems of the plant and secure them in a location that is both shaded and ventilated, using a paper sack to catch any ripe seeds that may drop. Once the bread is completely dry, you can store it in an airtight container for up to a year. It’s best to use caraway root soon after harvesting it, but it should last for up to a week if you store it in a cool, dark place. You can keep leaves fresh in the fridge for a few days.
Caraway and its use
Caraway is not used as often in dishes as other culinary herbs because it has a specific aroma. Some dishes require the use of spices and herbs to give them flavor. The soothing, flatulence-relieving effect of the plant is not only obtained from eating it, but also from drinking tea or brandy made from the plant.
Caraway as a spice plant
Caraway is an ingredient in many traditional dishes. Caraway is used in the preparation of sauerkraut, as well as greasy meat dishes such as pork knuckle or ham hock, fried potatoes/chips, and some cheeses. Especially in strong-tasting cheese caraway is processed. The essential oil of caraway makes hearty, greasy food more digestible. Caraway is essential for Indian and Oriental dishes.
Caraway is sometimes used as a spice in bread and rolls, which gives them a characteristic taste. The English seem to especially like caraway. Caraway seeds are used in both caraway seed cake and caraway pudding.
Caraway v Cummi
The roots of the caraway plant are edible in addition to the seeds that emerge during the plant’s second year of growth. These are harvested in autumn. The caraway seeds have a taste that is similar to a mix of carrots and parsley roots. However, the yellowish taproot is usually eaten as a vegetable only when it is cooked. The fresh, delicate leaves are edible and have a taste that is similar to dill.
It also has a significant impact on some alcoholic beverages. Caraway-containing spirits are rely on the caraway’s digestive and flatulence-relieving effect. Caraway alcohol is a type of alcohol that is known by various names, such as Aquavit, Maltese Cross Aquavit, Bommerlunder, Köm, or Kaiser-Kümmel (Germany). The mixtures are sometimes mixed with other herbs that are beneficial. The spirits are usually consumed as a cordial or a digestif.
You can store the whole caraway in your home for up to five years. Storage: Keep in a cool, dark place. You should use ground caraway within 6 to 8 months, because it starts to lose its flavor after that.
Caraway as a medicinal plant
Since ancient times, caraway has been known for its medicinal purposes. Some people believe that this herb is the oldest medicinal herb in Europe. The Romans used the seeds for seasoning greasy foods and as a medicinal plant.
There are also many old recipes and treatment recommendations for the common caraway in many old herbal books. Interestingly, the plant that we now call caraway was formerly referred to as wild caraway, and the plant that we now call cumin was referred to as caraway. The roots were also very important. For example, the caraway roots called yellow turnip were used to help with indigestion and make you have to pee. The herb was externally used to treat toe pain.
The caraway plant was always a highly coveted medicinal plant. Even today, various naturopathic treatments use the medicinal plant. The main field of applications for this product is stomach and intestinal diseases, as well as indigestion. The cure is found in the concentrated form of the drugs found in nature, especially in fruit. The essential oils of the caraway, in particular carvone, carvacrol, myrcene, and limonene as well as some flavonoids are responsible for the following healing effects:
- flatulence adverse
- calming (carminative)
In naturopathy as well as in folk medicine, caraway fruits among others used in the following complaints and illnesses:
- easier indigestion
- stomach cramps
- nervous restlessness/trepidation
- menstrual cramps
- disturbance of milk flow in breastfeeding/nursing mothers
- joint pain
- Muscle aches
The most common ways to use caraway are through an infusion (caraway tea) or by using the essential oil (caraway oil). Caraway tea is most effective for flatulence, colic, cramps in the intestine, and a feeling of fullness when combined with fennel and anise. Mixtures of these three herbs can be easily obtained. Chamomile tea is often used as a home remedy for infants who are suffering from painful flatulence. Although caraway tea is generally safe, it should be diluted with water if given to infants. This herb is also found in many breastfeeding teas as it can help stimulate the production of breast milk.
Caraway is commonly used internally in the form of tea, or externally in the form of oil, to help with convulsive stomach problems or in massages for babies. Applying oil to the skin can help relieve colic, but it can also have a stimulating effect. It is not recommended to use the oil on its own. It is better to mix it with a neutral vegetable oil or baby oil. This essential oil can be used to improve circulation and alleviate pain in muscles and joints when applied externally.
Note: Caraway oil should not be used during pregnancy.