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Caraway (Carum carvi) also known as Meridian Fennel or Persian cumin is a biennial plant in the family Apiaceae. Found through Central Europe to Asia it is not clear however whether caraway is truly indigenous to Europe. Today it is chiefly cultivated in Finland the Netherlands Eastern Europe and Germany furthermore North Africa particularly Egypt.
Caraway is the spice that gives Southern German and Austrian foods be it meat vegetable or rye bread their characteristic flavour. It is also popular in Scandinavia and particularly in the Baltic states but is hardly known in Southern Europe.Caraway's aroma does not harmonize with most other spices but its combination with garlic is effective and popular in Austria and Southern Germany for meat (e.g. roast pork Schweinsbraten) and vegetables. German Sauerkraut (sour cabbage made by lactic fermentation) is always flavoured with caraway (and juniper). Unfermented boiled cabbage without caraway lacks character.Caraway Seeds have a spicy flavour and are most commonly used as a flavouring in confectionery and bread also as a flavouring in salads vegetables etc. It is high in protein and fat. The seed is often chewed after a meal in order to sweeten the breath and also to relieve heartburn after a rich meal. An essential oil from the seed is used as a flavouring in ice creams candy soft drinks etc. It is an essential ingredient of the liqueur kümmel.Leaves - raw or as a flavouring in soups etc. The young leaves are much less spicy than the seeds and are a good salad having a mild parsley-dill flavour. They give an aromatic tang to salads. Older leaves can be cooked as a spinach.The Caraway root is used as a vegetable like parsnips. Stronger in taste than parsnips but liked by many. A delicious vegetable.The fruits usually used whole have a pungent anise-like flavor and aroma that comes from essential oils mostly carvone and limonene. They are used as a spice in breads especially rye bread. Rye bread is denser partly because the limonene from the caraway fruits has yeast-killing properties.
The roots may be cooked as a root vegetable like parsnips or carrots.
A carminative or a tea (tisane) made from the seeds is used as a remedy for colic loss of appetite and digestive disorders and to dispel worms. Caraway seed oil is also used as a fragrance component in soaps lotions and perfumes.