Caraway is an ancient aromatic herb, famous for being the spice in rye bread and German sauerkraut. A biennial in the carrot family that grows 1'-3' tall, with feathery foliage and tiny white flowers. The seeds, which have an earthy-citrusy-peppery flavor, are the most used, but the flowers, leaves, stems, and root (which looks like a small parsnip, and can be used like any other root vegetable) are also edible. While you’re waiting for the flowers, seeds, and roots to develop in the second year, spend the first year using the leaves, which have a parsley-dill flavor, in salads, soups, and sautés.
As a companion plant, it attracts pollinators and beneficial insects, and repels aphids, cabbage moths, cabbage white butterfly, cabbage worms, carrot root fly, and caterpillars.
As a medicinal herb, Caraway has been used internally to treat asthma, bad breath, bloating, colds, colic, cough, flatulence, heartburn, indigestion, insomnia, lack of appetite, nausea, sore throat, and stomach cramps, and externally to treat arthritis, bruises, burns, skin irritation, toothache, and wounds.
⚠️ Medicinal properties are presented as information only, and are not a recommendation or prescription for use. Consult a medical professional before using any herb medicinally.
SEED PLANTING TIPS
- Botanical name: Carum carvi
- Life cycle: Herbaceous biennial
- Hardiness zones: 4-9
- Planting season: Spring, fall
- Days to maturity: 70 days-2 years; can begin harvesting when 6" tall
- Depth to plant seeds: 1/4" deep
- Days to germinate (sprout): 7-14 days
- Germination soil temps: 65F-75F
- Spacing between plants: 8"-12" apart
- Spacing between rows: 18"-24" apart
- # of plants per sq. ft.: Appx. 2 plants per sq. ft.
- Soil types: Sandy, loamy, chalky, poor, rich, moist, well-drained
- Soil pH: 6.0-7.5
- Sun needs: Full sun, part shade
- Water needs: Average
- Cold stratify: No
- Frost tolerant: Yes
- Heat tolerant: No
- Drought tolerant: Yes
- Deer resistant: Yes
- Culinary use: Yes
- Medicinal use: Yes
What is Caraway?
Caraway is a biennial. This means it takes two years for the plant to mature, produce seeds, then die. During the winter you may not see any evidence of the plant even though the roots are preparing for spring. So mark your spot carefully so you don’t accidentally dig them up in the spring.
An interesting legend that goes along with Caraway is that it had the power to prevent the theft of objects that had seeds nearby and it also kept lovers from losing interest in one another. Still, some believe Caraway has beneficial healing powers and you can use the oil, fruit and seeds as medicine.
Health Benefits of Caraway
Women can use Caraway oil to relieve menstral cramps. Feeling bloated or have a bit of indigestion? Chewing on a few Caraway seeds can help relieve your symptoms!
Ways to Consume Caraway
If you want to consume the leaves, pick them when they are young and tender. The roots are also edible when the plant is young. Use Caraway seeds in baked goods, such as breads, and buns. Add them to vegetable and fruit dishes, especially curries. Use leaves and seeds alike to make hot and cold teas.
Caraway seeds have a sharp, pungent, slightly licorice taste that’s is delicious with green beans, potatoes, cabbage, onions, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, and apples. Try mixing it with cucumber and sour cream. It’s delicious with sausage and beef.
See Caraway Recipes & Growing Tips on our Pinterest Board
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