Caraway essential oil comes from the seeds of caraway plant or carum (Carum carvi or Apium carvi), a member of the Umbelliferae family, which also includes anise, dill, cumin, and fennel. It is a biennial herb that originated from Asia Minor, but is now cultivated widely in Africa, Northern Europe, and Russia.1
Caraway can be identified by its smooth, furrowed stems that grow 1 ½ to 2 feet high, tender-soft, fern-like leaves, and white or pink flowers that bloom in June. The fruits, which are actually called "seeds," are curved and laterally compressed, with a horny and translucent appearance and marked with five distinct pale ridges. When bruised, they release a pleasant and aromatic odor. This is also the part of the plant that is traditionally added to food as flavoring.2
Caraway spice is popularly used in Europe and in the Indian subcontinent. Its use can be traced as far back as the Stone Age. The Egyptians added it to foods as a flavoring, while the Romans used it in bread-making. It was also used by Germans and Austrian in culinary applications during the Middle Ages.
Caraway oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant. It has a sweet, spicy odor with a slight peppery smell.
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