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Home > Types of Spices > Seeds > Caraway
CarawayBotanical Name: Carum carvi Linn
Family Name: Umbellifereae

Indian names are as follows:

Hindi:Shia Jira
Siya Zira
Bengali:Sada Jira or Sa-Zira
Kannada:Shime Jeerige
Malayalam:Shima Jirakam
Marathi:Wilayati Zirah
Sindhi:Kalu daru
Tamil:Shimai Shembu
Telugu:Sima Jirakaia

The caraway plant usually has a fleshy root and a slender branched stem that attains a height of 0.5 to 0.6 meters; the compound, pinnate leaves are divided into very narrow segments; the small white flowers are borne in flat compound umbels; the fruit when ripe, splits into narrow, elongated carpels 4 to 6.5 mm long, curved, pointed at the ends, and with five longitudinal ridges on the surface. This spice thrives in temperate climate and prefers moderately light clay soil that is well tilled and rich in humus.

The dried fruit or seed is brown in color, has a pleasant odor, aromatic flavor, warm and somewhat sharp taste. Seed are hard sharp to the touch. They are free from stalk ends. Caraway seed is available whole or ground. The seeds, on steam distillation, yield an aromatic essential oil (4 to 6 %), which finds greater use in medicines than the seeds as such.

In India, the fruits are collected before ripening. Well-ripened fruits may also be reaped in the early mornings when the plants are bathed in dew; otherwise many seeds fall during harvesting itself. The plants are dried and the fruits threshed out, cleaned and stored in bags. The yield is variable.

Caraway seed has the following composition:

Fat: 8.8%
Fiber: 25.2%
Total ash: 3.7%
Calcium: 1.0%
Phosphorus: 0.11%
Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 0.38 mg/100g
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin):0.38 mg/100g
Niacin…8.1 mg/100g
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid):12.0 mg/100g
Vitamin A: 580 I.U
Calorific value (food energy):465 per 100g of spice.

Caraway oil, distilled from fresh seeds, is a colorless or pale yellow oil. Carvone content of oil is 45 to 65 %. Caraway grown in Kashmir gives an oil conforming to the B.P. standard. The volatile oil contains a mixture of ketone, Carvone; a terpene formerly called carvene but now recognized to be dl-limonene and traces of carvacrol. Pure Carvone is prepared by decomposing the crystalline compound of Carvone with hydrogen sulfide.

Caraway is widely used as a spice for culinary purposes and for flavoring bread, biscuits, cakes and cheese. It is also used in the manufacture of `Kummel` and as an ingredient of sausage seasoning and pickling spice.

It is a mild stomachic and carminative, occasionally used in flatulent colic and as adjuvant or corrective for medicines. However, its volatile oil is employed more often than the fruit itself.

Carvone isolated from caraway oil is used as anthelmintic in hookworm disease. Caraway oil is used chiefly for flavoring purposes and in medicine as a carminative. It is also used to correct the nauseating and griping effects of medicines.

Caraway seed oil is used in oral preparations for overcoming an unpleasant odor or taste. When employed for scenting of soaps, the soap gives the characteristic full note. Decarvonised oil consists of limonene with traces of Carvone and is sold in the market as light oil of caraway. It is used for scenting soaps.
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