Caraway (Carum carvi L.)

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Family. Celery (Umbelliferae) – Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) 

General knowledge 

It is a long-established medicinal and herbaceous plant distributed in Western Europe, Asia Minor, Central Asia, and North Africa.  As an introduced plant, it is widespread in North America and New Zealand. It was used as early as Neolithic times, described in Egyptian manuscripts, and was favored by the ancient Greeks and Romans. 

Botanical description 

Caraway is a biennial, herbaceous plant up to 100 cm tall. The root is erect, fleshy, and slightly branched. The stem is erect, bare, and branched. Leaves are naked, glabrous, feathery, the lower ones with long stems, the upper ones legless. It flowers in May-June with white or pink flowers in a compound umbel. Fruits ripen in July-August. Seeds are harvested when they turn brown. The caraway seeds are then cut off, tied in bundles and dried, and later harvested. The seeds are then dried. Stored in covered containers or boxes in a cool room. The fruit is used for medicinal purposes and the leaves and fruit for spices. Suitable for use for three years. 

Cultivation and preparation 

Propagated by seeds sown in early spring. It prefers a sunny position and loamy soil. 

Active ingredients 

Caraway fruit contains 3-6% essential oil, which consists of carvone (60%), limonene, dihydrochalcone, and carvacrol. It also contains proteins, oils (up to 16%), flavonoids, resins, phytosterols, minerals, etc. The herb contains flavonoids, vitamin C, and other substances. The most important active components of caraway fruit are carvone and limonene. 

Therapeutic effects 

It stimulates the appetite, increases the secretory function of the stomach and intestines, reduces fermentation and putrefaction in the intestines, increases diuresis and secretion of the mammary glands, stimulates expectoration, has a mildly laxative, analgesic, and spasmolytic effect. Official medicine ranks caraway as the best herbal remedy for flatulence. Caraway fruits stimulate the appetite, promote digestion, strengthen peristalsis and relieve spasms of the intestines, bile, and ureters. 

For the caraway infusion, 1 teaspoon of crushed fruit is poured over 250 ml of boiling water, strained after 10 minutes, and drunk in small sips of one-third of a glass three times a day before meals. This infusion, diluted 1:1, is given to children with abdominal distension, 1 teaspoonful 5-6 times a day. 

In many countries, caraway fruit is used as a spasmolytic and stimulant in various gastrointestinal diseases. 

Folk medicine uses caraway seeds to treat painful menstruation. In addition to tea, caraway should be eaten regularly with cottage cheese, salads, and vegetables. 

Crushed cumin fruit (on the end of a knife), taken with water 3 times a day, 30 minutes before meals, stimulates appetite 

Uses for spices 

Caraway fruit has a strong smell and a pungent taste. It is used for spices whether ground or unground. Ground cumin is suitable for dishes that will not be heated: salads, pâtés, cheeses, etc. The seeds are used to flavor bread and confectionery and are added to red beetroot, fresh and sauerkraut, potatoes, soups, salads, sausages, all kinds of fatty meats, caraway soup, Irish borscht, and goulash. Lamb cannot be cooked deliciously without cumin and garlic. Caraway is also suitable for sour dairy products such as cottage cheese, homemade cheese, and sour milk. It is added to curing cabbage, cucumbers, and tomatoes. In addition to fruit, raw and ground caraway stems and leaves are used in salads and soups. Men with prostate adenoma are recommended to eat potato or vegetable soup with caraway stems. The stalks of first-year plants are collected. The tied stalks are added to the soup 10-15 minutes before the end of cooking. The stalks can be removed or chopped before eating. Caraway tea is also suitable for this disease. 

Caraway seeds can be mixed with black pepper, white pepper, bitter pepper, paprika, and basil. The rate of cumin seeds per serving depends on the composition of the products, the method of preparation, and the national cuisine, but the average rate is 0,1-0,25 g. The seeds are added 15-20 minutes before the end of cooking.

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