Caraway

Ingredients

  • Organic Caraway

Origin​

  • Eastern Europe

Form

  • Seeds

Certification

  • Organic, Kosher

Typical Use

  • Fall, Winter

Background

  • Here is another spice that is uncommon and did not originate from the Mediterranean room. It is widely used in Northern Europe, for bread (rye bread). In Berlin, caraway (Kümmel) is found in Kümmelstangen, which is the Prussian response to the Bavarian pretzel. Berlin's second most important use of caraway is for schnaps (Kutscherkümmel - literally "coachman's caraway schnapps" probably because it was the cheapest hard liquor available at the time). The more sophisticated distilled liquor with caraway as a spice is known across Scandinavia as Aquavit, with Linie Akvavit being especially prized (it crosses the equator twice, stored in barrels).
     

Today, Caraway grows in colder climates which made its use popular across Central and Northern Europe, but its origin is not quite clear.

Cooking

  • Caraway has a very strong, distinct flavor, somewhat comparable to anise or fennel. In other words, if you use it for a dish, you and everyone will know it. That strength makes it great for heavy food compositions, such as stew, or as the main, dominant spice in simpler dishes (rye bread, cheese). It is probably a bit of an acquired taste (I remember I did not like its strong flavor as a child). 

Cultural​

  • Given the ease of growing caraway in Northern Europe and its importance for liquor, caraway is a distinctive part of Scandinavian, Finish, and Northern German cultures. Beyond the alcohol (Kümmelschnaps, Akvavit), caraway as a spice has probably only limited influence over those cultures. 

​Spiritual

Beyond this seemingly random use of caraway seeds for a religious celebration, I found another mention where caraway seed is used for traditional Hindu Sindhi dish (a small religious splinter group, taking components of Hinduism, Sikh, and Sufi Muslims) - https://wamu.org/story/17/03/29/the-tahri-that-binds-how-a-sweet-rice-dish-connects-a-woman-to-her-history/

Medicinal​

  • While Wikipedia's limited information about caraway seems to reflect the unusual and limited use of the spice around the world, the nutritional value table is eye-opening - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caraway. Given the amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals, Caraway is probably a great super-food that no-one has ever heard about. These great health values explain why the colder and more wintry parts of Europe have been using caraway for centuries.

Recipes

salmon - https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/caraway-salmon-with-rye-berry-and-beet-salad
 

Cabbage - https://www.bbc.com/food/recipes/roast_pork_belly_with_58636
 

modern version of an Italian dish - https://www.npr.org/2013/03/05/173529055/the-caraway-seed-is-a-spice-worth-meeting

 

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Santa Cruz, CA, United States

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