Common English name: Caraway, meridian fennel, Persian cumin
- Spanish: alcaravea, alcarahueya, carvia, alcaravia, comino de prado, hinojo de prado.
- Catalan: carvit, alcaravia, ate of prat, comineta, Fenoll of prat, matafaluga overboard
- Portuguese: alcaravia, cominho-Armenian complexion, cominho, cominho-two-meadows
- French: caraway, cumin des Prés
- German: Wiesenkümmel, Echter Kümmel
- Italian: dei prati cumin, caraway
Scientific name: Carum carvi
Family: Apiaceae or Umbelliferae
Origin: Northern and Central Europe.
Habitat: It requires fertile, well-drained, light soil for proper growth. It does not tolerate moisture or clay soils., preferring chalky soil, wit a pH 7 or 7.5.
Geographical distribution: It has now been naturalized in all continents. It is mainly found in mountainous areas up to 2,000 m., Distributed through Europe, Siberia, the Caucasus and Central Asia. In general, caraway is not in the Mediterranean due to warmer weather.
Caraway (Carum carvi) is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant, 30-70 cm tall.
It has a pivotal taproot, yellowish, from which numerous erect stems spring. They are erect, cylindrical, branched and striated.
The leaves are arranged alternately to the stem, petiolated. The foliage is divided into pinnate or bipinnate leaves. The upper leaves may be sessile.
The inflorescence is a terminal umbel with tiny white flowers. Each umbel may contain between 6 and 14 unequal radiuses. This is an umbel, a very characteristic inflorescence of the Asteraceae family. It is shaped like an inverted umbrella, which is formed because all the flower stalks are joined to the stem by the same point.
The fruit of the plant is classified among the nuts with an structure called diachene. They are ovoid and compressed, with 10 ribs.
The fruit is often confused with that of cumin (Cuminum cyminum), although in the case of caraway, it is longer, glabrous and narrow.
Whole fruit size: 3-6 mm long and 1-2 mm thick.
Used parts of caraway
- Root: the root is eaten boiled, steamed, in soups or puree. It can also be cut and fried in the same way as potatoes.
- Leaves: fresh young leaves are used in salads.
- Flower stalks: The flower stalks are eaten as if they were asparagus in North Africa.
- Seeds or fruits: Small fruits are used as a condiment (alone or in blends like curry), and in phytotherapy.
- Essential oil: It is used in aromatherapy, perfumery and as a flavoring additive.
Composition of caraway
- Vitamins: It contains B vitamins and small amounts of vitamin C.
- Minerals: calcium, magnesium, manganese, chromium, potassium, iron.
- Furfural (antiseptic)
- Essential oil (3-6%): Carvone (50-60%), dyhydrocarvone, carveol, dihydrocarveol, limonene, acetic aldehyde.
Aromatic components (essential oil):
- Terpenes: carvone (carminative, antioxidant, stimulant, vermifuge). Caraway is one of the richest plants in carvone.
- Monoterpenes: limonene, gamma-terpinene, myrcene, acetaldehyde, carveol, cis-carveol, trans-carveol, alpha-phellandrene, alpha-pinene, alpha-terpinene, linalool, beta-pinene, carvacrol, thujene.
- Sesquiterpenes: cadinene, camphene (expectorant)
- The plant contains tannins ( antioxidant and astringent)
Drawing of caraway with a detail of the flower and fruit at the top right
| Composition of caraway seed
|Aromatic components of caraway