Growing and Using Caraway

Growing and Using Caraway
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Caraway is one of those under rated herbs placed in the category of "herbs grown for seed". It's really a shame because the leaves and root are edible as well and have their own unique taste! Caraway can be grown in a row, much like carrots, and each part of it can be harvested for different culinary uses. I also consider it one of the "safe" herbs in the sense that it isn't toxic to adults or children. It has been used for at least 5,000 years!
Caraway is a biennial herb, which means it takes two seasons to produce seeds and finish it's growing cycle. The first year it only grows to less than 12 inches tall while it's forming the taproot, which is carrot-like and edible. The second year it's can grow to 2 foot tall and forms flower heads that produce seeds. Caraway does best in full sun and soil that is fertile and not too dry. Direct seed caraway in the spring where you want it to grow. It does not transplant well. If you start it early make sure you use peat pots or some method where you plant it as is, so you don't disturb the roots. Also a note on placement-it will die down completely in cold climates, so mark it's location WELL. The first time I planted it, I lost track of it because I didn't mark it and I only had room for one plant. Also, keep the area around it weeded well. The foliage is delicate and is easy to mistake for a weed when small.

The first year you can harvest the delicate foliage and use it as you would chervil or parsley. It won't form the seeds, and the root is still growing, so harvest the foliage lightly for salads or other recipes. During the second season it will grow more quickly and will flower. The seed heads will be similar to dill and you harvest them much the same. Dry them on a screen or with the stems hung upside down in a bag. Once dry, store them in a dark colored jar, where they won't be exposed to light. At the end of the season you can harvest the root, which is more delicate than parsnip and can be eaten in the same way. It's nice to steam or boil it and serve with butter, salt and pepper.

The recipes I have today are for the seed, since you can basically substitute the root for parsnip and the leaves for chervil in your recipes. The seed is the most popular part of the plant and has many uses. Try adding a tsp. of seed to your favorite sugar cookie or tea bread recipe. They are a natural with cabbage, pork, apples and cauliflower, but try the seeds with potatoes, turnips, cottage cheese. You can also add the minced foliage from the first year to these. The seeds can be used whole or you can grind them up with a coffee/herb grinder or a mortar and pestle so they are ground if you prefer.

Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

2 pounds carrots, peeled if needed and sliced thin

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

2 tsp. caraway seeds, crushed

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup butter

2 sweet onions-sliced thinly

1 fresh tarragon sprig

For the carrot puree, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots and tarragon, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more. Add the stock and orange and lemon juices. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the carrots are very tender, 10-15 minutes. Discard the tarragon sprig. In small amounts, process the soup in a food processor fitted with the metal blade or in a blender. Return the puree to the pan, season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the crushed caraway seeds and stir, then heat through gently. Serve with croutons if desired.

Sauerkraut Apple Casserole

1 pound fresh kielbasa, cut into 1 inch slices

1 large onion, chopped

2 apples, peeled and quartered

1-27 oz. can sauerkraut, undrained

1 cup water

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 tsp. caraway seed

In a skillet, brown sausage and onion until sausage is brown and onion is tender. Drain. Stir in apples, sauerkraut, water, brown sugar and caraway seed. Transfer to a 2 1/2 qt. baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 degree for 1 hour. Garnish with parsley if desired. Yields 6-8 servings.

Zesty Italian Dressing:

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. caraway seed

1/4 tsp. dried tarragon

1/4 tsp. fennel seed

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. crushed dried rosemary

1/4 tsp. dried mustard

1/2 tsp. granulated sugar (optional)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

3 whole cloves garlic, peeled

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until combined and fairly smooth.

Savory Beet Salad

Ingredients:

2 bunches beets

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup white vinegar

2 tablespoons caraway seeds

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

2 tablespoons minced sweet onion

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

5 tablespoons olive oil

Wash beets and trim off the greens. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil, add beets and cook, covered, until they are tender. Remove from the heat, drain, and cool. Peel and slice when they have cooled. In a large bowl, whisk together the water, vinegar, caraway seeds, sugar, onion, horseradish, salt, pepper and oil. Add beets and toss to coat. Allow to stand for several hours, stirring occasionally. Serve at room temp. or chilled.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped onions

1 garlic clove, minced

3 cups diced peeled potatoes

1 cup chopped celery

5 cups water

1 cup peeled and chopped carrots

1 medium head cauliflower, chopped

1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh dill (1 tsp. dried)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried mustard

1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds

2 cups buttermilk

salt and pepper to taste

Sliced green onions

In a large pot, combine the onions, garlic, potatoes, celery, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the carrots and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes. Add the cauliflower, dill, lemon juice, mustard, and caraway seeds and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes longer, until the carrots are tender. Using a blender or food processor, puree the warm soup and the buttermilk, working in batches. Add salt and pepper to taste. Gently reheat. Serve topped with the green onions.

 

About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.

 
 

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