Quick Recipes and Easy


Caraway, a member of the carrot family, is a self-seeding annual, sometimes growing as a biennial, which likes a sunny location and, unlike most herbs, well-watered soil. Seeds should be sown in shallow drills as early as possible and, in milder climates, in the fall. Thin the seedlings and keep the bed weeded. Caraway does not need fertilizer. For some reason the spice does not like to grow near fennel, but it makes a excellent companion for peas and will help keep the weeds down under your pea rows. When the seeds are brown (mid to late summer), check their ripeness with a gentle tug. If ready, cut off the whole plant and turn it upside down in a paper bag. When dry, the seeds will fall to the bottom of the bag when it is rolled between your hands.

There is evidence of caraway’s use dating back over 5,000 years, making it one of the oldest known spices. Medicinally, caraway is a carminative, soothing the digestive tract, relieving colic, cramps, bloating and flatulence. As English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper wrote in The English Physitian (1652), caraway is “conducive to all the cold griefs of the head and stomach … and has a moderate quality whereby it breaketh wind, and provoketh urine.” Caraway is reputed to increase breast milk production and its antispasmodic action will also relieve menstrual pain. The spice is frequently used in cough syrups, especially for children, and will successfully combine with white horehound in this role.

In the magical realm, caraway is carried to ward off evil entities and any negativity. The ancient Egyptians buried their dead with a bag of caraway seeds as a bulwark against evil spirits. A small bag of the seeds placed in a child’s bed will afford protection from illness and from Lilith, the female demon who attacks children. Chewing or carrying the seeds will attract the like of a desired one and will promote fidelity. When baked in bread, cakes and cookies, they are lust inducing.

Every part of the caraway plant is edible, but it is the seeds that are most well loved in the kitchen. Their taste is slightly sweet, nutty and peppery with a hint of fennel or anise. They are used extensively in Eastern European and Scandinavian cuisine, in cheeses, goulashes, sausages, stews and breads (especially rye bread). There’s some quality in caraway that counteracts greasiness in foods, which is why the spice is a excellent addition to dishes like cheese, sausages, pork and duck. Be aware that caraway seeds can become bitter with prolonged cooking, so it’s best to add them to the dish during the last 15 minutes or so.

Here are a couple of vegetarian recipes using the spice:
Borscht ‘n’ Beans

· 1 Tbsp. olive oil
· 3 medium-sized beets
· 2 small onions, diced
· 1 clove of garlic, crushed
· ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
· 5 cups of vegetable stock
· 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
· 1 Tbsp. caraway seeds
· ¼ tsp. cayenne
· Salt to taste

Partially pre-cook the beets in boiling water to make them simpler to peel. Allow them to cool and then peel and cube. Heat the oil in a large, non-reactive pot. Sauté the onion until translucent, then add the garlic and the beets. Add the vegetable stock and vinegar, cover and simmer until the beets are soft (about 25 minutes). Add the tofu and cook for a further five minutes. Puree in a blender, return to pot, add the beans, cayenne and caraway seeds and re-heat. Add salt to taste. Serve hot with some fresh-baked rye bread.

Caraway Coleslaw

· 2 apples, cored, peeled and diced
· 1 small to medium-sized white cabbage (some red cabbage may be added for colour), sliced thinly
· 1 tsp. caraway seeds
· ½ tsp. mustard seed
· ¼ cup of toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds
· 4 carrots, coarsely grated
· 1 small red onion, finely chopped
· ½ cup of home-made or prepared mayonnaise
· 1 Tbsp. 2 tsp. unfiltered apple cider vinegar

Mix all the ingredients together. Keep in the refrigerator for one to two hours, then toss thoroughly before serving. Add salt to taste.

Bruce Burnett is a Chartered Herbalist, an award-winning writer and author of the best-selling book HerbWise: growing cooking wellbeing. Contact Bruce through his website: herbalcuisine.com herbalcuisine.com

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