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Caraway, a little known spice

22 mayo, 2021

Recently a reader asked us about where to get certain seeds and products to make bread. Specifically, I was asking about the caraway, a little known spice today in Spanish cuisine, although in the past its use was more widespread.

Caraway or meadow cumin, Carum carviIn fact, it bears a great resemblance to cumin, both in appearance and flavor, although its seed is larger and slightly curved, unlike the former. Although it has a spicy flavor and an aroma more similar to anise.

The plant closely resembles the carrot, with highly divided feathery green leaves and a tuberous root with a flavor reminiscent of celery and carrots. It grows wild in many mountainous areas, as in much of the Pyrenees and in the southern mountains of Aragon, where it is very common.

Its composition is variable, depending on the origin of the seed, but it usually contains between 3 to 7% of essence and 16% of oil. As for its virtues, like fennel and anise, caraway fruits are tonics and snacks, diuretics and avoid flatulence, which helps to expel. The carvone it contains acts on the intestinal muscles, regulating transit and helping digestion.

These properties mean that its use has been extended since ancient times, even as I think very much to the taste of animals, and very healthy for them. As a digestive it can be taken in infusion, half a teaspoon of seeds in a cup of boiling water, after meals. The anisees made with caraway, called I ate anissos in Catalonia, and they have a light layer of sugar on the seeds, they are also very digestive.

bread with alvaravea

It also serves as the basis for a homemade liquor very digestive called kummel, cold macerating the seeds in alcohol or dry brandy, and then sweetened with syrup. In the cuisine of northern European countries it is widely used to flavor cheeses such as Danish tilsit and havarti, or German milbekäse. In seventeenth-century Spain, its use is mentioned in cabbage and potato stews.

It is also part of various mixes of spices, such as ras-el-hanout, a mixture of cumin, oregano, coriander, turmeric, caraway, paprika, nutmeg and cayenne, among others, and which is used in Maghreb cuisine to marinate. meats and for various stews, such as tajines and couscous. It is also used industrially to flavor lotions, soaps and syrups.

It is true that it is not sold in supermarkets, but you can easily find caraway, both in seeds and ground, in spice stores and herbalists.

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