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Carum carvi

Cumin - intro, appearance and characteristics

Cumin is one of our oldest medicinal herbs. It has been found in middens from the Stone Age.

A two to perennial screen plant which used to be quite common around the country. The stem is smooth, furrowed and hollow and widely branched. The leaves are 2-3 times pinnately divided with narrow, linear sections. The inflorescence is a 5-16 branched umbel almost without leaves. The flower itself is reddish or white. Cumin flowers in May-June, after which it develops 3-6 mm long brown seeds with narrow, pale ribs, which can be harvested in July-August. The whole plant, not least the seeds, smells of cumin.

Cumin, which is related to parsley and dill, can grow to between 50-80 cm tall. It blooms every two years and produces large cream-colored flowers. The ripe seeds are small, oblong, dark and very aromatic. The white or reddish flowers sit in double umbels with 7-10 odd long rays. There are usually both large wraps and small wraps missing. The fruits are brown with 5 thin, light ribs. The partial fruits are crumbly and smell strongly when crushed.

Cumin is one of the spices that has been cultivated the longest. Traces of cumin have been found in excavations that are more than 5000 years old.

Cumin has been used as a medicinal plant and herb since the Middle Ages. The fruits are used in baked goods and cheese, while the cumin oil is used in Danish schnapps.

It was via the Roman troops that cumin spread to the rest of Europe, they used it especially in bread.

Do not confuse cumin with cumin, which is particularly popular in Middle Eastern cuisines, it has a completely different taste and gastronomic tradition.

Come find places
Cumin is quite common and grows on less moist soil, wild here in Denmark along roads, on meadows, in meadows, near residential areas and near beach meadows.

Fun History
According to folklore, it was said that cumin was able to prevent one's belongings from getting lost or being radiated. Young newly married couples were given cumin in their food to avoid divorce, and it is said that some homing pigeons still use the trick of mixing cumin into the pigeons' food so that they only have one in their heads; to quickly get back on the stick again.

The plant was certainly very widespread in Denmark during the Valdemar period, as it was taxed on cumin.

"Akvavit or aquavit is a caraway- and/or dill-flavored spirit flavored using a herbal or spice distillate."

This is the start of the EU regulation on the definition, designation, presentation and labeling and protection of geographical indications for spirits, which was formulated in 2008. In addition, for akvavit, it must have a minimum alcohol content expressed by volume of 37.5%, that essential oils are prohibited and that the drink must not be significantly bitter.

Schnapps, on the other hand, is a more generic term for a spiced brandy distilled from fermented grain or potatoes. But since, as you know, there are many other things to season a schnapps with than cumin and dill, it is far from all schnapps that can be called aquavits. Most common fruit, spice and herb alternatives are porcini, sloe, St. John's wort, beach wormwood, walnut, sea buckthorn and blackcurrant.

Cumin - active substances and their effect

Cumin is mostly used in food such as bread, cheese, aquavit and cabbage dishes. It facilitates digestion, gives peace to air in the stomach and is said to stimulate the genitals. If you eat cumin, it can help with menstrual pain and toothache. In India it is used as a treatment for insomnia, colds and fever reduction and to increase milk supply during breastfeeding. The oil from caraway seeds is antibacterial and lavicidal.

Cumin oil is something that is still used in mouthwashes and other remedies to give fresh breath.

The plant is a digestive aid and has been used against stomach and bowel problems such as flatulence and colic in infants (Harpestreng).