Friday, November 28, 2014

Herbal Notes: Caraway

Caraway (Carum carvi)
Caraway is a biennial herb.  In its first year, it produces a leaf rosette.  The second year it produces a flower stalk.  The flowers produce fruits containing two seeds.   The best seeds for propagation are found in the central umbel and will ripen first.  

Use the young leaves which have a slight aniseed flavor in salads and soup.  The seeds can be eaten at the end of a spicy meal to aid digestion and freshen breath.  

In herbal folklore, Caraway is known to ward off witches and evil spirits.  It has also been used to keep a lover faithful.  In addition, this herb has been historically associated with marriage and death.  
For example, in Great Britain, Caraway was included in love potions used to bind two lovers together and keep them faithful to one another.  In Germany, Caraway was placed in coffins with salt to protect the dead on their passage to the afterlife.

McVicar, Jekka. New Book of Herbs.  Woodbury, MN:  Llewellyn Publications, 2009.

Arrowsmith, Nancy.  Essential Herbal Wisdom:  A Compete Exploration of 50 Remarkable Herbs.  New York, NY:  DK Publishing, 2002.

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