Related entry: Carum petroselinum
- Major entries:
- Carum carvi Linn. Caraway. Kummel.
Carum bulbocastanum Koch. Umbelliferae. Pignut.
Europe and Asia. The tuberous roots serve as a culinary vegetable and the fruit as a condiment. Lightfoot says the roots are bulbous and taste like a chestnut; in some parts of England they are boiled in broth and served at the table. Pallas says the roots are eaten by the Tartars.
Carum capense Sond.
South Africa. The edible, aromatic root is called feukel-wortel.
Europe, Orient and northern Asia. This biennial plant is described by Dioscorides and mentioned by Galen. Pliny states that it derives its name from its native country, Caria, and that it is used chiefly in the culinary art. Caraway is now cultivated largely for its seed in England, particularly in Essex, in Iceland where it is apparently wild, in Morocco and elsewhere. The seeds are exported from Finland, Russia, Germany, Prussia, North Holland and Morocco. The seeds are used in confectionery and distillation. In England, the seed is used by cottagers to mix with their bread, and caraway-seed bread may often be found in restaurants in the United States. In Schleswig-Holstein and Holland, they are added to a skim-milk cheese called Kummel cheese. The roots are edible and were considered by Parkinson to be superior to parsnips and are still eaten in northern Europe. The young leaves form a good salad and the larger ones may be boiled and eaten as a spinach. Lightfoot says the young leaves are good in soups and the roots are by some esteemed a delicate food. It was cultivated in American gardens in 1806 and is still to be found.
The seeds of caraway were found by O. Heer in the debris of the lake habitations of Switzerland, which establishes the antiquity of the plant in Europe. This fact renders it more probable that the Careum of Pliny is this plant, as also its use by Apicius would indicate. It is mentioned as cultivated in Morocco by Edrisi in the twelfth century. In the Arab writings, quoted by Ibn Baytar, a Mauro-Spaniard of the thirteenth century, it is likewise named; and Flueckiger and Hanbury think the use of this spice commenced at about this period. Caraway is not noticed by St. Isidore, Archbishop of Seville in the seventh century, although he notices dill, coriander, anise, and parsley; nor is it named by St. Hildegard in Germany in the twelfth century. But, on the other hand, two German medicine books of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries use the word cumick, which is still the popular name in southern Germany. In the same period the seeds appear to have been used by the Welsh physicians of Myddvai, and caraway was certainly in use in England at the close of the fourteenth century and is named in Turner's Libellus, 1538, as also in The Forme of Cury, 1390.
Carum copticum Benth. & Hook. f.
Europe, north Africa and northern Asia. This small plant is very much cultivated during the cold season in Bengal, where it is called ajowan, ajonan or javanee. The seeds have an aromatic smell and warm pungent taste and are used in India for culinary purposes as spices with betel nuts and paw leaves and as a carminative medicine. The seeds are said to have the flavor of thyme.
Carum ferulaefolium Boiss.
Mediterranean region. This plant is a perennial herb with small, edible tubers. Its whitish and bitterish roots are said by Dioscorides to be eaten both raw and cooked. In Cyprus, these roots are still cooked and eaten.
Carum gairdneri A. Gray. Edible-Rooted Caraway.
Western North America The root is a prominent article of food among the California Indians. The Nez Perce Indians collect the tuberous roots and boil them like potatoes. They are the size of a man's finger, of a very agreeable taste, with a cream-like flavor.
Carum kelloggii A. Gray.
California. The root is used by the Indians of California as a food.
Carum segentum Benth. & Hook. f.
Europe. This is an aromatic, annual herb available for culinary purposes.
Carum sylvestre Baill.
East Indies. This plant is used as a carminative by the natives.