AskDefine | Define caraway

Dictionary Definition



1 a Eurasian plant with small white flowers yielding caraway seed [syn: Carum carvi]
2 leaves used sparingly in soups and stews

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A biennial plant native to Europe and Asia, mainly grown for its seed to be used as a culinary spice.
  2. The seed-like fruit of the caraway plant.

Scientific names



  • Dutch: karwij
  • Finnish: kumina
  • French: carvi
  • German: Kümmel
  • Hungarian: kömény
  • Polish: kminek
  • Slovene: kumina
  • Spanish: alcaravea
  • Czech: kmín
  • Dutch: karwij, karwijzaad
  • Finnish: kumina
  • French: carvi
  • German: Kümmel
  • Hungarian: köménymag
  • Polish: kminek
  • Slovene: kumina
  • Spanish: carvis

Extensive Definition

Caraway or Persian cumin (Carum carvi) is a biennial plant in the family Apiaceae, native to Europe and western Asia.
The plant is similar in appearance to a carrot plant, with finely divided, feathery leaves with thread-like divisions, growing on 20–30 cm stems. The main flower stem is 40–60 cm tall, with small white or pink flowers in umbels. Caraway fruits (erroneously called seeds) are crescent-shaped achenes, around 2 mm long, with five pale ridges.
The plant prefers warm, sunny locations and well-drained soil.

Cultivation and uses

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, which is denser because of the yeast-killing properties of the essential oil, limonene. Caraway is also used in liquors, casseroles, and other foods, especially in Central European and Scandinavian cuisine, for instance sauerkraut. It is also used to add flavor to cheeses such as havarti. Akvavit and several liqueurs are also made with caraway. A carminative, a 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.
The roots may be cooked as a root vegetable like parsnips or carrots.
In one of the short stories in Dubliners by James Joyce, a character eats caraway seeds to mask the alcohol on his breath.

Similar herbs

Caraway thyme has a strong caraway scent and is sometimes used as a substitute for real caraway in recipes.

External links

caraway in Arabic: كروياء
caraway in Bulgarian: Ким
caraway in Czech: Kmín (koření)
caraway in Danish: Kommen
caraway in German: Kümmel
caraway in Spanish: Carum carvi
caraway in Esperanto: Karvio
caraway in Persian: زیره
caraway in French: Carvi
caraway in Hebrew: כרוויה תרבותית
caraway in Italian: Carum carvi
caraway in Lithuanian: Kmynas
caraway in Hungarian: Kömény
caraway in Dutch: Karwij
caraway in Japanese: キャラウェイ
caraway in Norwegian: Karve
caraway in Norwegian Nynorsk: Karve
caraway in Polish: Kminek zwyczajny
caraway in Finnish: Kumina
caraway in Swedish: Kummin
caraway in Russian: Тмин
caraway in Turkish: Frenk kimyonu
caraway in Chinese: 葛縷子
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