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Common Name

Latin Name Family Country/Origin
Carum Carvi Umbelliferae Northern Africa and Europe

Caraway seeds have been cultivated since the Bronze Age and history shows that caraway was used in Ancient Egypt to keep evil forces away from burial tombs.

Evidence suggests caraway seeds were used during the Renaissance period in Europe as a remedy for digestive problems and also to prevent theft.

Today caraway is used primarily in Central and Northern European countries, though interest is growing in North America, The seeds are relatively unknown in Asian countries, and when they do appear there is often times confusion between caraway and cumin.

Although the entire plant is edible, the seeds of carum carvi are most commonly used in cooking. Hard, ridged, brown seeds grow on a small shrub that is botanically related to coriander, cumin, fennel and dill. Caraway has a strong, almost overpowering aroma and its characteristic sweetness can dominate a dish.

Purported Medicinal Qualities*

Caraway seeds are an excellent digestive aid. The seeds are used in the preparation of digestive bitters and tonics, and sometimes eaten whole.

Historically, caraway has been used to:

  • Aid digestion
  • Relieve colic
  • Relieve heartburn
  • As a carminative
  • Improve lactation
  • Relieve tension
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Sweeten breath

*Always check with your healthcare provider before consuming, inhaling or otherwise ingesting any non-prescription or prescription natural or homeopathic substance or pharmaceutical. is not recommending, suggesting, inferring or otherwise endorsing the use of any herb or spice as a medication.

Culinary/Suggested Use

Not very common outside of Europe, caraway seeds can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. They are popular in breads, cakes, pastries and cookies, but also go well with meat and vegetables. In Germany and Austria, caraway seeds are a feature ingredient of staple sauerkraut and other cabbage dishes. Throughout Northern Europe, caraway can be found in and on breads, most particularly the popular caraway rye.  Food for thought:

  • To prevent bitterness, add caraway seeds towards the end of cooking
  • Stir caraway seeds into oil or butter and then spread over top of bread dough before baking
  • Roast caraway seeds before adding to a vegetable dish for a slightly stronger flavor
  • Whole caraway is often better used on its own, unless paired with garlic
  • For a milder flavor use ground caraway
  • Blend caraway seeds with a variety of other hot, sweet, pungent, sour and salty spices, and grind fresh before using.

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