Caraway

Whole caraway seeds

The caraway seed is a small crescent-shaped spice that is available in ground or whole. The seed is actually a dry fruit which is harvested from the Carum carvi plant. Evidence shows that the spice has been used for over 5000 years, and it is still a key ingredient in a North African and central European cuisines. Although it is useful in cooking, it has also been used since the Middle Ages for various medicinal purposes.

Flavor

Caraway has a warming, fresh minty-like flavor with an anise undertone that is similar to fennel. Its aroma is earthy and robust with hints of orange and anise. It contains a compound S-Carvone which provides a spicy burst of menthol and anise.

Pairs with

Proteins

  • slow cooked meat
  • sausages
  • goose
  • beef
  • oily fish
  • duck

Vegetables

  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • potato
  • apples
  • beetroot
  • parsnips

Spices

  • fennel
  • garlic
  • cilantro
  • dill
  • thyme
  • oregano

Spice blends: sausage seasoning, harissa, garam masala, tabil, ras el hanout.

Culinary uses

The complex, fresh characteristics of caraway make it an excellent ingredient for balancing out dishes that are heavy or oily. They lighten oily fish like herring or anchovies and are commonly added to cheese through Europe. Other popular uses include adding to rye bread, sausages, spice blends, and they are delicious sprinkled onto vegetables like cabbage and potatoes.

To help release the flavor of caraway, it is best cooked in hot oil until fragrant. Although the whole seeds are best added early in the cooking process, ground powder should be added towards the end of the recipe.

How much? Use ¾ teaspoon of caraway seeds in vegetables, baked goods, and white meat. Increase that amount to one teaspoon for red meat.

Substitutes

To replace caraway in a recipe use the same quantity of dill, anise, cumin, or nigella seeds. They won’t perfectly mimic the flavor, but they won’t taste out of place in most recipes. Replace one tablespoon of ground caraway with half a tablespoon of ground caraway.

Storage

Store whole caraway seeds in an airtight container or jar in a dark, dry place for up to three years. The ground seeds will last under one year before losing their volatile flavors.

Quick Facts

NameDescription
FamilyApiaceae
Flavor compoundCarveol, S-carvone, limonene, pinene, sabinene
Botanical nameCarum carvi
Parts usedFruit (“seeds”)
Other namesCaraway fruit, Roman cumin, Persian caraway, wild cumin
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