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Home > Types of Spices > Seeds > Cumin
Cumin SeedsBotanical Name: Cuminum cyminum Linn.
Family Name: Umbelliferae.

Indian names are as follows:

Hindi: Jira, Safaid Jeera, Zeera
Punjabi: Jira, Safaid Jeera
Malayalam: Jeerakam
Sanskrit:Jiraka, Jeera
Telugu: Jidakara, Jikaka.

Cumin or Jeera comprises the dried yellowish to grayish brown seeds of a small slender annual herb of the coriander family, believed to be the native of Egypt, Syria, Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean region. It grows to the height of 30 to 45 cm and produces a stem with many branches bearing long, finely divided, deep green leaves and small flowers, white or rose in color, borne in umbels.

The aromatic seed-like fruit, commonly known as `seed`, is elongated, oval, approximately 6 mm long and light yellowish brown in color, somewhat similar to caraway seed but slightly longer. The odor is peculiar, strong and heavy, pleasant to some and rather disagreeable to others, while flavor is warm, slightly bitter and somewhat disagreeable.

The physico-chemical composition of cumin seeds is as follows:

Cumin PowderMoisture: 6.2 %
Protein:17.7 %
Fat:23.8 %
Crude fiber:9.1 %
Carbohydrates:35.5 %
Total ash:7.7 %
Calcium:0.9 %
Phosphorus:0.45 %
Iron:0.48 %
Sodium:0.16 %
Potassium:2.1 %
Vitamin B1: 0.73 mg/100g.
Vitamin B2:0.38 mg/100g.
Niacin: 2.5 mg/100g
Vitamin C:17.2 mg/100g.
Vitamin A:175 I.U./100g.
Calorific value: 460 calories/100g.
The seed yield volatile oil 0on an average 3.1 %.

The dried fruit is crushed and soon thereafter, it is steam distilled to yield 2.5 to 4.5 % of valuable volatile oil, colorless or pale yellow, turning dark on keeping. The yield of the oil depends upon the quality and age of the seed; the older seeds contain less oil. The chief constituent of the oil is cuminaldehyde (20 to 40 %) and is used in perfumery.

In addition to volatile oil, the seed also contains about 10 % fixed (non-volatile) greenish brown oil with a strong aromatic flavor. It is a semi drying oil having an iodine value of 92.

Cumin seeds have an aromatic odor and a spicy and somewhat bitter taste. The are largely used as condiment and form an essential ingredient in all mixed spices and curry powders for flavoring soups, pickles, curries, and for seasoning breads, cakes etc.

Aqueous extract of cumin seed is frequently used for removing intestinal worms. The seeds have been considered as stimulant, carminative, stomachic, astringent and useful in diarrhea and dyspepsia.

The essential oil is similarly used for flavoring various food items and as a basic perfume. The oil cake is a good cattle fodder.

The post harvesting technique of the seeds are extremely simple and easily adoptable. To ensure good quality a system also to be in place for the purpose. There are a number of schemes drawn by various departments, which can easily be implemented. Similarly technology of steam distillation is also well known thus can help for further value addition. If the medicinal virtues are considered there is possibility of many projects down stream.

The flowers during the season yield sufficient nectar, thus can assure us with tasty honey. Cumin honey is viscous, contains higher quantity of iron and has higher quantity of unsaturated sugar. It also has attractive aroma. By practicing beekeeping, not only that it shall ensure an additional product but also increase production of cumin due to pollination.
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