Caraway is a commonly grown household plant used as a flavoring agent in foods and beverages. It has many names in various countries. Carum carvi, Karve, carvi, wild cumin, Persian cumin, Carroway, Kümmel (German). Kummin (Swedish), carvies (French), and alcaravea (Spanish) are among the many names known to its growers and users. It is native to regions surrounding the Mediterranean and in much of Europe.
Caraway is a member of the parsley family. It is used as both an herb and a spice. The main used parts are the fruit of the plant which are called “seeds”. The root is thick and the frilly foliage looks like that of a carrot. Its height reaches from 30 to 80 centimeters. The plant lives for about two years before flowering. From the flowers, the seeds are then produced.
The seeds are elongated with a slight crescent shape, ribbed. These are brownish in color.
Caraway resemble cumin seeds and the two spices are often confused. Caraway seeds are however, darker in color, smoother, and a little more curved. Caraway also have a more bitter, minty and anise-like scent and taste. Cumin is relatively spicier with a sweeter aroma and taste.
Like those of cumin, caraway seeds have utmost importance in cooking and are commercially produced for this. But the leaves and the root are also edible. These can be used for homemade recipes and remedies for some common ailments.
The Health Benefits of Caraway
Like many other herbs, caraway has been used as medicine in the ancient world. There is a prescription by a Greek physician from that era which instructed caraway use as a skin tonic. It has also been a significant part of early Eastern healing practices particularly in India.
Traditionally, caraway seeds were used for the following general ailments:
- Promoting health of our digestive system has been the primary benefit from consuming caraway seeds. It has been known for promoting digestion, good bowel movements and preventing ulcers when taken as tea. It also helps problems caused by overeating – like heartburn. This is also why caraway has often been paired with heavy meals or hard to digest foods. When massaged with oil on the stomach, it could relieve pain and spasms. Preparations made from the seeds are also capable of expelling worms and other parasites.
- Fighting microbes. – A paste made from the seeds applied to wounds could fight off infections. Caraway tea is used as a gargle for a sore throat and other infections in the mouth. This may also prevent stomach ulcers. The tea is also helpful for bronchitis.
- Boosting bone health. Caraway has been used as a supplement to help keep bones strong and firm.
- Boosting milk flow. Caraway has been used to aid mothers in nursing their babies.
- Managing inflammation. Caraway is helpful as a tea aids in bronchitis or applied on stomach aches. It can help reduce the swelling and pain, causing a soothing effect.
- Improving sleep quality – by drinking the tea.
The nutrient information of the herb’s seed is presented in the table below. It shows that the nutrient which is most significant for daily requirements is iron. It can supply almost half of the recommended amount– just from one tablespoon. It also has significant quantities of magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Although the multivitamin content is not as high, it is still significant.
Also noticeable is the high amount of dietary fiber. This could be a main reason for caraway’s positive influence on digestive health. The high content of minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus could certainly provide the body’s needs for healthy bone growth. This is also very good for blood and milk formation needed by nursing mothers. The high iron concentration is also very beneficial to cure anemia caused by the lack of this mineral. Meanwhile, zinc is known to promote easy and restful sleep.
|Nutrient||Unit||per 100 g||%RDA||1 tbsp = 6.7g||%RDA|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||14.59||18.95||0.98||1.27|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||49.9||19.96||3.34||1.34|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||38||126.6||2.5||8.33|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||21||23.3||1.4||1.56|
|Vitamin A, RAE||mcg||18||2||1||0.11|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||mg||2.5||16.67||0.17||1.13|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||3.272||17.22||0.219||1.15|
Scientific Research on Caraway
There has been an increasing interest in the health beneficial properties of caraway. Research has progressed due to its increasing usage for pest control in the crop industry. As a consequence, its medicinal properties are being brought to light at the biochemical level.
Tests had been done to determine caraway’s healing benefits using lab animals. Extracts of the essential oil component of caraway seeds demonstrated high antioxidant properties. This helps to explain the ability of caraway to protect vital tissues like those of the liver. Meanwhile, a more conclusive study was done through a clinical trial among overweight and obese women. The results definitely showed caraway, as a supplement, can help control these disorders.
Medicinal Effects of Phytochemicals in Caraway
An analysis of the seed or fruit composition reveals 1–6% is made of essential oils. The oils, in turn, contain up to 30 chemical compounds. The substances carvone and limonene comprise about 95% of the total essential oils.
Carvone is an essential oil naturally found in caraway, dill, and spearmint. Carvone is present most abundantly in caraway. The substance acts as a natural insecticide or repellent. This may explain how caraway gets rid of parasites in the intestines. Research also indicates that this substance could help stop the diabetes and obesity caused by a high-fat diet while protecting the liver.
Limonene is a chemical that is also found in peels of citrus fruits. This substance is the reason for their unique scent. There were some lab studies which reveal its effects in certain cancers. It either stopped the spread or even killed off the cancer cells. But no studies involving human patients have been done yet. Limonene could also be a main reason for caraway’s ability to soothe pain from digestive ailments. It could also lessen tissue damage caused by bronchitis and inflammation of the colon.
Why should I grow Caraway?
Today’s ‘modern’ lifestyle with the abundance of fast food, chemical preservatives, and overindulgent food servings can take a toll on our bodies. Obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and cancers of the liver or intestines are among the results. These illnesses are on the rise.
Caraway is easily grown and harvested fresh from your own condo-farm. It can be an invaluable aid to maintain the health of digestive organs. Drinking tea made with caraway seeds can soothe stomach cramps or bloating after overeating at parties. Tea with other herbs can fight against sore throats and other infections. If you have children, massaging seed oils can be a natural remedy for tummy aches. It can also disinfectant of wounds and bruises.
The leaves of the caraway plant are very much palatable and add variety to salads and soups. The plant roots are also edible and quite thick. These can be prepared, cooked and eaten like other root vegetables like carrots or turnips.
Recipes using Caraway
Caraway Cheese Spread
⅓ cup crumbled blue cheese
3 oz cream cheese
⅓ cup mayonnaise
1½ tsp caraway seed and white pepper to taste
Blend together and store in the refrigerator.
Green salad (with caraway leaves) with Blue Cheese Dressing
1 bag of mixed salad leaves
1 bunch of rocket or watercress
For the dressing:
4 fl oz (115 ml) of plain low-fat yogurt
1 oz (30 g) of blue cheese
1 crushed clove of garlic
1 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp of sugar
- In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing.
- Crumble the blue cheese. Mix this into the dressing fold and then add to the yogurt.
- In a salad bowl, toss the salad leaves with the dressing. Coat the leaves well.
- Serve at once.
This recipe provide you with a very potent digestive tonic. Combining caraway’s healthful digestive effects with the beneficial microorganisms present in sauerkraut.
1 medium-sized head of green cabbage
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp caraway seeds
- Peel off and discard the outer layers of the cabbage. Cut it up into 8 equal-sized wedges.
Cut out the core from each. Slice these up crosswise very thinly into fine shreds. Instead, you can use a food processor with the proper blades.
- In a large clean bowl transfer the cabbage and include the salt. Massage the cabage while rubbing the salt into it. Do this until the cabbage soft and liquid accumulates at the bottom of the bowl. let it stay there for two hours.
- Add the caraway.
- Get a resealable jars and stuff the cabbage mixture in. Repeat these steps while filling in the jar with the cabbage so that about one inch of space remains at the top of the jar.
- Pour in the liquid that was extracted from the cabbage.
- Cover the mouth of the jars with its lead. Secure in place to prevent air into the cabbage. In the first three days there will be CO2 generated. Open the jar daily to let it out.
- Keep at room temperature away from sunlight and open drafts for a couple of weeks. The warmer the temperature, the quicker the fermentation so check this periodically. Just make sure the very top is covered enough while pouring out the excess liquid.
- After two weeks, check if these are ready and tastes well. This could already be eaten. If so desired, the sauerkraut could be fermented further.
How to grow Caraway hydroponically
Caraway is a medium planet growing up to 70 centimeters long. Most strains are biannual. So its life cycle is two years, producing seeds in the second year. In the second year, its root develops. All part of the planet is eatables.
Its seeds are slow-sprouting. Do expect about three weeks for them to sprout in the nursery planter.
Seed 5 seeds in one nursery planter in about 5 millimeters depth. Let them grow for about a month.
The plant leaves look much like carrot leaves. Like the carrot, they are very sensitive to transplanting. So you need to be very delicate when you transplant them into the condo-farm system.
After they are somewhat matured, transfer them to the condo-farm system. Rinse their roots from the soil and place them densely in the condo-farm planter cup. Fill in clay pallet to secure them in place.
You can cut the top leaves with scissors whenever you want. They will give exotic taste to dishes. People who find it very tasty needs its ingredients most.
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HEATHER GOESCH NUTRITION
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