Make the most of culinary herbs and spices.

All About Caraway Seeds

by Sandra Bowens

“Well, I like rye bread…” you probably like caraway. That is the little brown seed usually found in rye bread, giving the bread such a distinctive flavor. Caraway has a flavor all its own. The taste is similar to cumin but more bitter with a strong aroma.


Throughout the ages, the caraway seed's name has been associated with cumin. It is often referred to as "Roman cumin" or "foreign cumin" in the Far East and has been known as cumich or kummich in Germany since the twelfth century. King Richard II's master chefs combined caraway with coriander, garlic and pepper in their recipe records, Form of Cury.


Caraway is said to have been used in Europe longer than any other condiment. Holland is known as the principle source of commercial caraway although it is also grown in Europe, the United States and Russia today. Each seed is actually one half of the fruit from the plant known botanically as Carum carvi, a member of the parsley family.


The seed is common to German, Russian, Indian, Indonesian and Scandinavian cooking. Although caraway has an affinity for cabbage, you can use it in savory or sweet dishes. Add near the end of cooking, the last 15 minutes when possible, to prevent a bitter flavor. Most often found in the seed form, caraway is especially nice ground. The ground form will often elicit a “what is that pleasant flavor?” from the diner. As with all seasonings, use sparingly until you are familiar with it.


HINT: Next time you make cole slaw, stir some caraway seeds into the dressing for a delightful new twist.


Caraway Quick Bread


2 teaspoons caraway seeds

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or use all-purpose flour)

1 cup rye flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup melted butter

2 eggs

1/4 cup honey

3/4 cup buttermilk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan.


Toast the caraway seeds in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat for 2 or 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Transfer to a small plate to cool; set aside.


Combine the flours with the baking powder, baking soda, toasted caraway seeds and salt in a medium mixing bowl.


In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, honey and buttermilk. Stir liquid ingredients into flour mixture until just blended. Do not overmix; the batter will be lumpy. Pour into prepared pan.


Bake 40-45 minutes until top springs back when touched lightly. Cool slightly in the pan, cut into wedges and serve warm, if desired.


This bread is especially good warm. To reheat later, wrap a wedge loosely in a paper towel and microwave on half heat for 20-30 seconds.





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