Table of content A-Z

 

Cumin

 

Botanical name: Cuminum cyminum


Kreuzkümmel

 

Cumin is grown in numerous areas, e.g. Turkey, southern Russia, India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Central America, the USA, several Mediterranean countries, and Upper Egypt. It originated in Egypt, where it was earlier important not only as a spice but also in the process of mummifying the pharaohs.

 

Approximately half of the world's cumin production stems from India.

 

Availability

What is used are the seeds of the plant. They are sold all year - ground, whole, or as a component of various mixed spices.

 

Appearance, taste, characteristics

The herbaceous plant, which grows to a height of up to 50 cm, is an umbellifer. The flower umbels produce seeds that may be 5-7 mm in size. They are yellowish and flat and resemble caraway. Their stink-bug-like smell is overpowering, while their taste is slightly bitter and spicy-pungent to sharp.

 

Ingredients

The 2.5-4.5% content of essential oils in the seeds is the reason for the typical taste and smell of cumin.

 

Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

When dried, the seeds can be stored for a long time; nevertheless, as with other spices, it is recommended that they be bought in small amounts. This is particularly the case for ground cumin. The essential oils are preserved longer in the whole seeds, while the powder soon loses its flavour and its seasoning strength. Both powder and seeds should always be kept in well-closed containers to keep them fresh longer.

 

Presumed effect on health

Cumin is said to stimulate the appetite and to help digestion. Like caraway, it is a proven remedy for digestive problems, flatulence, and stomach and intestinal cramps. For this purpose it is used in the form of a tea, which contains additional ingredients to improve the taste.

 

Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Cumin is a fixed ingredient in the seasoning of many Asian dishes. It is also an indispensable component of numerous seasoning and curry mixtures.

 

It is suitable for seasoning a number of dishes, e.g. for various chutneys and curries, rice and meat dishes, soups and sauces. In the Orient cumin is also used to flavour breads, and in Latin American cuisine is a classical ingredient of chili con carne.

 

In Russia, cumin is used to make beer and kvass, a refreshing carbonated drink. In some cases, the essential oil is also used to produce herbal liqueurs and flavourings.

 

Seasoning tip

Roast cumin in a bit of oil before you add other ingredients to a frying pan. This helps the aroma to unfold better than if you add it to the finished dish; its strength is enhanced. In addition, cumin loses its unpleasant smell when it is roasted.

 

 

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