Caraway is a valuable and one of the oldest spices, originating from ancient Egypt. This is a popular spice in India, the Middle East and Mexico. Aside from culinary purposes, caraway is also very valuable for other of its properties, created by bioactive ingredients.

Caraway seeds accumulate 3-7 % of essential oils, the most important ingredients of which are carvone (up 60%) and limonene (up to 40%). Moreover, they also contain 14-22 % of fat, 20-30 % protein, fermenting substances, flavonoids quercetin and kaempherol, as well as resin and pigments. Caraway is rich with iron, while caraway tea is very refreshing and reduces fatigue. Due to large amounts of phytosterol caraway can help lose weight and the amount of fat. Phytosterol prevents the accumulation of cholesterol in the body. Some specialists claim that caraway stimulates metabolism.

Caraway ripens (the seeds get brown) until the third part of July. Since seeds ripen on different time and then quickly fall, it is recommended to harvest caraway, when 20-30 % of the seeds are brown. Harvested caraway must be protected from rain, since wet seeds become black and lose their quality. Dried caraway separates easily and can be flailed using any machinery. Flailed seeds are then cleaned and dried in a well-ventilated room or outside, spread in a thin layer and occasionally stirred.

Dried seeds are very fragrant, slightly bitter and spicy. They can contain no more than 12 % moist (caraway ash — no more than 8 %), no more than 2 % damaged or unripe seeds, no more than 1 % of organic impurities and no more than 0.5 % of minerals.

Medicine recommends caraway infusion for various intestinal ailments. Caraway inhibits fermentation in the digestive tract, reduces flatulence, relieves smooth muscle spasms (intestines, gall bladder, uterus, urinary tract).

Folk medicine uses caraway to stimulate appetite.

Caraway seeds are used as a spice for bread and pies, various dishes, pickled cabbages, kvass and other non-alcoholic drinks.

Literature

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Čekauskaitė,  L. Gamtos vaistinėlė.  Kaunas: Spindulys, 2003.

Kaunienė, V.; Kaunas, E. Vaistingieji augalai. Žinynas.  Kaunas: Varpas, 1991.

Obelevičius, K;  Petkevičiūtė, S;  E. Šeinauskienė, E.  Prieskoninių augalų ir jų vartojimo žinynas.  Kaunas: Lututė, 2011.

Ragažinskienė, O.;  Rimkienė,  S.;  Sasnauskas, V. Vaistinių augalų enciklopedija.  Kaunas: Lututė, 2005.